Everybody wants to trim down and tone up. Unless you are naturally gifted with a fast metabolism and good genes, the only way to do this is to combine cardio, resistance training and diet. There is, however, an overemphasis on cardio and diet. Many women forget the resistance training component to achieve these goals. Resistance training helps to improve toning, weight loss, and has health benefits specific to women.
Muscle gain is important for long-term weight loss. For every kilogram of muscle you gain, your body burns approximately an extra 100 calories a day. That works out as an extra 5 kilograms of fat burned for energy a year. The reason why women tend to gain weight after trying to lose weight (calorie restrictive diet) is because they lose muscle in the process. When they stop dieting or exercising, they put on more weight than before because their metabolism has slowed down due to this loss in muscle mass.
The main reason why women are afraid of using weights is because they think they will bulk up and lose their feminine appearance. Women have 1/10 the testosterone of men. This hormone results in the muscular physiques seen in men who lift weights. Because women have low levels of this hormone, resistance training will not lead to a bulky, butch physique, but instead a toned and shapely appearance.
Health benefits relating to resistance training include osteoporosis prevention. Bones, tendons and ligaments will adapt and become stronger in response to weight training. This reduces sprains and muscle pulls. The increase in bone mineral density, which is related to bone health and strength, is very important to prevent fractures and other bone related problems later in life. As people age, muscle loss accelerates causing a reduction in metabolism, leading to subsequent weight gain. As a result, women tend to lose their toned youthful appearance and put on weight more easily around the butt and stomach. Weight training can slow this process down and, for some people, turn this around. Other health benefits of weight training include an improvement in blood pressure, sugar levels, and mood. Furthermore, it reduces the chance of heart disease, adult on-set diabetes and cancer.
I personally recommend doing weight sessions twice a week. Research has shown that the period of greatest muscle growth is 2-3 days after a workout. Waiting any longer before starting your next workout will not assist your muscle gaining goals. The way to organise your weights session is to have two days between workouts. For example, do a weights session on a Monday and then on a Thursday. The number of repetitions used for an exercise should be between 13-18 for toning and shaping. The last couple of repetitions should be pretty hard work, an intensity of 8 out 10. Do 2-3 sets with a 30 second rest in-between sets. Include these resistance-training tips into your lifestyle and you will go a long way to achieving your new toned and shapely body. Good Luck!