How to Start Lifting Weights As A Female: A Beginner’s Guide

woman weightlifting

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Starting a weightlifting journey as a woman can be an intimidating experience, but it shouldn’t be.

The fact is, that weightlifting offers numerous health benefits specifically for women, including improved strength, posture, and confidence.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of starting a weightlifting routine as a female, debunk some common misconceptions, and pave the way to long-term fitness and wellness.

Quick Summary

With countless programs and techniques available, it might feel daunting to determine where to start. Fear not! We’re here to guide you in your first steps to lifting weights, discussing essential exercises and movements, and equipping you with the knowledge of appropriate weight sizes for your fitness level. We’ll walk you through your first day at the gym and help you feel comfortable and confident in the workout space.

Finally, it’s essential to recognise that achieving long-term fitness and wellness goals requires patience, dedication, and often some expert advice. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help or ask questions to ensure you’re on the right track and training safely.

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Key Takeaways

  • Weight lifting offers great benefits for women, and this article guides you through the process of starting your journey.
  • We’ll explore key exercises, appropriate weight sizes, and debunk misconceptions to empower you as a female weight lifter.
  • Achieving long-term fitness goals requires dedication, and seeking expert advice can ensure safe and effective progress.

Why is Lifting Weights Beneficial for Women?

Lifting weights is not just for men; women can greatly benefit from it as well. As a woman, starting a weightlifting routine can improve your overall health and wellness in numerous ways. Let’s dive into some of the key benefits you can gain from it.

  • Firstly, lifting weights increases your metabolism, helping you to burn calories more efficiently. This means that as you build muscle, you’ll be able to burn more calories during your everyday activities and even at rest. As a result, your body fat percentage may decrease, leading to a leaner and stronger physique.
  • In addition to helping with weight management, weight lifting has positive effects on your bone health. Regular strength training can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, which is a common concern for women as they age. By stressing your bones through resistance exercises, your body responds by increasing bone density, making them stronger and more resilient to fractures.
  • Another significant benefit of weightlifting for women is the improvement in self-confidence and body image. Engaging in regular strength training can make you feel empowered and boost your self-esteem. Plus, weightlifting can help you achieve a more toned and fit appearance, further contributing to your self-confidence.
  • Lastly, lifting weights can also help in managing and preventing chronic health issues, such as diabetes. Since strength training enhances your metabolism, it helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. This, in turn, can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and other related health problems.

Getting Started: Beginners Guide

So, you’ve decided to start lifting weights and you’re ready to hit the gym. That’s brilliant! But wait, before you go rushing in, let’s talk about what you should know as a beginner to make your experience effective and enjoyable.

First off, you don’t have to be limited to just the free weights area or weight machines. You can explore various pieces of equipment like resistance bands, elastic bands, and cables to get the most out of your workouts. Experiment with different resistance levels to find what works best for you.

Start by familiarising yourself with the gym and its equipment. It can be a tad overwhelming at first, but don’t stress. Take your time learning about different machines and free weights like barbells and dumbbells. As you get more comfortable, try using bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges to build up your strength. Variety is essential to keep things interesting and work various muscle groups.

When you’re beginning your weightlifting journey, it’s crucial to learn the proper form and technique for each exercise. This helps prevent injuries and ensures maximum results. Don’t be afraid to ask gym staff or a personal trainer for help, or simply watch online tutorials before attempting a new exercise. Once you’ve got the hang of things, start increasing the weight and resistance gradually.

As you progress, you can begin to incorporate weight training into your routine with more advanced exercises. Mixing up your workouts with a combination of free weights, weight machines, and resistance bands can keep things engaging and provide a more well-rounded approach to strength building.

Remember, consistency is key but don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Be patient, and your efforts will pay off in the long run. So, go on, give weightlifting a proper go and enjoy the incredible benefits that come along with it. Keep it fun, and casual, and enjoy the journey!

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Training Programs and Techniques

Starting your weightlifting journey can be exciting, but it’s essential to begin with the right training programs and techniques. You’ll want to focus on strength training, which includes exercises that target several muscle groups and promote overall muscle development.

As a beginner, you might consider following a well-structured training program. A 12-week workout plan, for example, can include five training sessions per week, each lasting about 45-60 minutes. Be sure to organise your workout plan so that you allow at least one rest day between intense training days, which will help prevent overtraining and injury.

When it comes to selecting exercises, focus on compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups. These are particularly effective for full-body workouts. Some examples include:

  • Barbell back squat
  • Barbell deadlift
  • Dumbbell lunges
  • Good mornings

Now let’s talk about sets, reps, and load. A set consists of a certain number of repetitions (reps) of an exercise. As a beginner, you can start with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise. The load, or weight you lift, should be challenging but manageable, allowing you to maintain proper technique throughout each set.

Speaking of proper technique, it’s crucial to learn and practice correct form for each exercise in your training program. This will not only ensure you’re getting the most out of your workouts but also reduce the risk of injury. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance or work with a certified personal trainer to help you nail down your technique.

When progressing with your training, remember to gradually increase the load and vary your workouts to keep challenging your muscles. By consistently following your schedule and focusing on proper technique, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your strength training goals. So go on and get lifting!

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Exercises and Movements

Starting your weightlifting journey as a female can be exciting and a bit daunting. But don’t worry; in this section, we’re going to cover some exercises and movements to help you get started. It’s time to embrace your strength!

One of the most foundational exercises you can do is the squat. This versatile movement targets your lower body, including your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Start with bodyweight squats to perfect your form, and then progress to holding weights such as dumbbells or a barbell. To avoid back pain, make sure to engage your core, keep your chest up, and maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.

Now, let’s get moving with lunges. These are fantastic for targeting your lower body as well. You can perform these with just your bodyweight or add some extra challenge by holding dumbbells in each hand. As with squats, pay close attention to proper form and engage your core to keep your balance.

Moving on to your upper body, the bench press is a classic exercise for strengthening your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Start by lying on a bench and gripping a barbell with both hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower the barbell to your chest before pushing it back up to the starting position. If you don’t have access to a bench, you can perform a chest press using dumbbells and lying on your back on the floor or a yoga mat.

Kettlebells are another versatile tool for your weight lifting routine. The goblet squat is an excellent kettlebell exercise that targets your lower body and helps improve your core strength. Hold the kettlebell close to your chest, and perform a squat, maintaining a stable posture.

Another great upper-body exercise is the shoulder press. This can be performed standing or seated using dumbbells or a barbell. Start with the weights at shoulder height and push them up overhead, fully extending your arms before lowering back to the starting position.

Don’t forget about those biceps! The bicep curl is a simple yet effective exercise for strengthening your arms. You can perform this exercise with dumbbells, a barbell or even resistance bands. Start with your arms extended by your sides, palms facing forward, and curl the weights up towards your shoulders, squeezing your biceps at the top of the movement.

Incorporating bodyweight exercises such as push-ups can also be beneficial for building overall strength. These target your chest, shoulders, and triceps while also engaging your core. If you’re new to push-ups, start with a modified version (knees on the ground) and work your way up to the full movement.

Give these exercises a go, and you’ll be well on your way to building strength and confidence in your weight lifting journey. Remember to focus on proper form and gradually increase the weight as you progress. You’ve got this!

What Size Weights Should a Woman Use?

When you’re starting with weight lifting, it’s essential to choose the right size weights to prevent injury and ensure proper muscle development. Picking suitable weights for your current fitness level and your specific goals is crucial.

Initially, you should choose weights that challenge you but allow you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. A good rule of thumb is to start with a weight you can lift comfortably for 12 to 15 repetitions. It is normal to feel some muscle fatigue in the last few reps, but you shouldn’t struggle to maintain proper form or complete the exercise.

As you progress in your weight lifting journey, you’ll need to increase the weights to further improve your strength and muscle tone. The key is to listen to your body and go for gradual, consistent progress. As you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercises, increase the weights in small increments, typically 1-2 kg at a time.

Remember that individual exercises often require different weights, so you might find yourself using different sizes for various activities. For example, you may be able to lift heavier weights when performing squats compared to bicep curls.

In conclusion, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what size weights a woman should use—everyone’s fitness level and goals are different. Start with manageable weights that allow you to perform 12-15 repetitions with proper form and gradually increase as you become stronger and more confident in your abilities.

Remember, consistency is key, and the most crucial aspect is to prioritize your safety, form, and progress over trying to lift heavy weights right from the start. Happy lifting!

Addressing Common Misconceptions and Intimidations

Many women worry about lifting weights, fearing they’ll bulk up or look too masculine. In reality, it’s not that easy for women to gain muscle mass like men due to hormonal differences. As a woman, you can still develop lean and toned muscles without becoming overly muscular.

Walking into the weights section at a gym can be intimidating, especially when you see mostly men lifting heavy weights. Don’t let this stop you! Remember, everyone starts somewhere. You’ll find your confidence grows as you become more familiar with the exercises and proper techniques.

Another misconception is that weightlifting is only for men. The benefits of weightlifting are for everyone, regardless of gender. Building strength, improving bone density, and boosting metabolism are just a few of the many benefits you’ll experience from lifting weights.

Muscle soreness after lifting weights can seem daunting, but it’s a completely normal part of the process. When you lift weights, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibres, and your body repairs and rebuilds them to make them stronger. Remember to listen to your body, take rest days when needed, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from gym staff or experienced lifters, as it’s essential to learn the correct techniques to avoid injuries. Additionally, try not to compare yourself to others in the gym, as everyone has their own fitness journey and goals.

To sum it up, don’t shy away from lifting weights because of misconceptions or intimidation. Embrace the opportunity to build strength and improve your health, while knowing that your journey is unique, and the benefits are plenty.

Walking through Your First Day at the Gym


Walking into the gym on your first day can be nerve-wracking, but don’t worry, you’ve got this! Start by arriving a bit early, giving yourself enough time to change, store your belongings and have a quick look around. Familiarise yourself with the gym layout, equipment and facilities. Don’t be afraid to ask gym staff for assistance or guidance, they’re there to help.

Before you dive into your workout, begin with a gentle 5-10 minute warm-up. This can be a brisk walk on the treadmill or a light session on the elliptical, anything to get the blood flowing and your muscles warmed up.

Next, let’s start with some beginner weight lifting exercises. Aim for 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise, with a 30-60 second break in between sets. To make things simple on your first day, focus on these basic movements:

  • Squats: Using a barbell or dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Maintain good posture and push through your heels to return to a standing position.
  • Bench Press: On a bench, hold a barbell or dumbbells at chest level and push them up until your arms are fully extended. Lower them back down slowly for control.
  • Bent Over Row: Holding dumbbells or a barbell, bend slightly at the hips with a straight back and pull the weight towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Bicep Curl: Hold dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing forward, curl the weights up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows tucked in tight.

Don’t forget to stretch after your workout to aid in recovery and help prevent muscle soreness.

Remember, everyone had a first day at the gym once, and with time and consistency, you’ll start seeing progress and gaining confidence. Enjoy your workout and welcome to the world of weight lifting!

Proper weight training is important if you are a woman; if you make a point of just focusing on cardio exercise you are not getting the benefit of a full and complete workout.

Achieving Long-Term Fitness and Wellness

Starting a weightlifting journey is an excellent step towards better fitness and wellness. As a beginner, it’s crucial to maintain your motivation to see continuous improvement in your fitness level. Gradually introducing resistance training into your fitness regimen can lead to achieving long-term fitness goals.

Beginners’ approach: It’s essential to start slow and learn the basics. Choose manageable weights for your initial workouts and focus on proper technique. This helps reduce the risk of injury and get accustomed to the new movements. Over time, you’ll feel more comfortable increasing the weights and enhancing your overall strength.

Consistency is key: Integrating weightlifting into your regular fitness routine is crucial for success. Aim for at least two to three sessions of resistance training per week. This approach will help you build and maintain your muscle mass while promoting general wellness.

Monitor your progress: Keep track of your achievements as you gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Tracking your strength gains, lifting heavier weights, and hitting personal bests will give you the motivation needed to continue your fitness journey.

Plan for plateaus: It’s natural to experience occasional plateaus in progress. It’s essential to stay patient and adjust your training and nutrition accordingly. Keep experimenting with new exercises, varying the intensity, and ensuring adequate rest to help overcome any fitness plateau.

Prioritise your mindset: Long-term fitness and wellness require a strong commitment to self-care. Remember that your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. Cultivate a positive attitude and focus on the reasons you started your weightlifting journey in the first place.

By incorporating these strategies into your weightlifting journey, you’ll pave the way for long-lasting fitness and well-being.

Getting Expert Advice and Professional Help

Starting your weight lifting journey can be a bit intimidating, but don’t worry! Seeking expert advice and professional help is a great way to ensure you’re on the right track. Having a pro by your side can make all the difference in your progress, so let’s break down why it’s essential and where you can find help.

Personal trainers are a fantastic resource when beginning weight lifting. They’re trained professionals who can assess your current fitness level and develop a personalised plan tailored to your goals. Be sure to ask about their specific experience with weight training for women. You can find personal trainers at your local gym or through private fitness studios. Many trainers also offer online coaching, perfect for those who prefer to workout at home.

Group classes at gyms often have a focus on weight training, like circuit training or functional fitness. These classes are led by certified instructors who can guide you through exercises and correct your form. The bonus is, you’ll share this experience with other participants, so you can learn and grow together while enjoying some camaraderie.

Don’t underestimate the power of online resources, either. Fitness experts often share instructional videos, routines, and advice on social media or YouTube channels. It’s important to look for reputable sources, like trainers with certifications or years of experience. This way, you can trust that you’re receiving accurate, reliable information.

Remember, everyone’s process will be unique, and it’s crucial to be patient with yourself. Trust in the guidance of experts and professional help, and you’ll soon see the rewards of your hard work. Happy lifting!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a good beginners strength training workout for women?

A good beginners strength training workout for women can start with two to three full-body sessions per week, focusing on compound exercises.

These exercises involve multiple muscle groups, like squats, lunges, push-ups, and bent-over rows.

Begin with two to three sets of each exercise, with 8-12 repetitions per set.

How much weight should I start with for lifting as a beginner?

As a beginner, you should start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with proper form for 8-12 repetitions.

Choose a weight that is challenging, but manageable, and adjust as needed. If you can perform more than 12 reps with ease, it’s time to increase the weight.

Remember, it’s always best to start light and build gradually to avoid injury.

What types of equipment are best for at-home weight training?

For at-home weight training, invest in adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, and a stable workout bench.

These items provide a versatile and cost-effective way to perform a variety of strength training exercises without taking up too much space.

As you progress, you may also consider adding a barbell and weight plates.

How can I create an effective beginner weight lifting routine?

To create an effective beginner weight lifting routine, focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups.

Begin with 2-3 full-body workouts per week, allowing at least one day of rest between workouts. Each session should include exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and bent-over rows.

Perform 2-3 sets of each exercise, with 8-12 reps per set. As your fitness level improves, you can start incorporating isolation exercises for specific muscle groups.

Where can I find a strength training routine for weight loss?

You can find strength training routines for weight loss online or by consulting fitness professionals.

Many routines recommend combining strength training with cardiovascular exercises like running or swimming to effectively burn calories and improve your overall fitness level.

While focusing on weight training is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, incorporating cardio will help you create a calorie deficit required for weight loss.

How do I start weight lifting if I have no experience?

If you have no experience with weight lifting, consider seeking guidance from a personal trainer or fitness professional, who can help you learn proper form and technique.

You can also follow beginner-friendly resources, such as tutorials and videos, that guide you through step-by-step instructions for performing weight lifting exercises.

Always start with light weights and gradually increase as you become more comfortable and confident in your abilities.
Remember to be patient, consistent, and listen to your body to avoid injuries and ensure long-term success.

Will weight training make my body muscular?

Most women of course, do not want to develop masculine looking muscles, which is one reason why they tend to avoid lifting weights.

But the reality is that as women’s bodies contain no testosterone, it is virtually impossible for a woman to develop the muscle that men frequently do.

Instead of getting muscles, you will find that your body becomes more fit and toned, once you start using weights regularly.

Will my chest size increase if I weight train as a woman?

Even if you are weight training specifically to increase your chest size, it simply is not possible that this will happen.

The size of your breasts is not affected by lifting weights, as this activity has no effect on the fatty tissue that comprises the breasts.

If you have avoided weight training for that reason, it is time to reconsider!

Why should women weight train?

Weight training is actually more beneficial than just doing cardio exercises alone, as it helps to increase bone density, and generally make the bones stronger.

This can be a big benefit as you age. This type of routine also has various other benefits; it can improve the body’s metabolism, allowing you to burn calories more quickly, and it can even reduce your chances of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Will muscle convert into fat?

Some women believe that any muscle that has been developed during weight training will turn back into fat once they stop exercising.

This is another myth, and the fatty parts of our body and the muscles are very different.

But both women and men often discover that if they have been exercising for a length of time and then they stop, their muscles become somewhat flabby and loose.



Avatar of Bianca James
Bianca James
I’m a mother, yoga instructor, runner, and blogger. Originally from South Africa, I’ve been a yoga instructor for over ten years.

I share my time between raising a very boisterous toddler (the love of my life) and teaching small yoga classes, but more importantly, loving every second of it!

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