Karla News

Strength Training for Women 101: Working on Your Arms

Strength Training

Are you trying to get more fit this year? Don’t wait for the New Year to resign yourself to a strength training program. Most strength training plans don’t work out because some women either have no clue how to begin one or have no idea how many of what they should do. Here’s a guide for the strength training clueless to jumpstart your way to a fitter you. (Note: Don’t worry about building bulk, because strength training for the average woman is targeted at developing more lean muscle which will help you burn more fat in aerobic activities. How bad can that be?)

Basic Terms

What are a rep and a set? A ‘rep’ is short for repetition. Let’s say you are doing bicep curls, a rep would be one full bicep curl-up and down. When you are strength training you need to repeat your activities several times-this is a set. For example, if you are doing bicep curls and you figure 10 reps is a good number (or 10 bicep curls) than you should at least do 10 reps, rest for a few minutes, and then do 10 more reps. In strength training terms this would be 2 sets of 10 reps, making a total of 20 reps. You should keep track of your workout in these terms so you know how many of an activity you are capable of doing before resting.


Strength training should be done at least 2-3 times a week. You should not be strength training two days in a row unless you are working out different muscles (e.g. arms, than legs the next day); otherwise, you should stick with every other day. Your muscles need a break in between or you will find yourself feeling more tired and weak than before you started your strength training program.

See also  The Treadmill: How Fast You Should Walk

The best way to keep track of each session is by making a sheet to hang up where you exercise (or if you go to a gym, than bring it on a clip board). This chart should at least list your activity in one column, reps and sets in another column, and amount of pounds used in another; but you can customize it from there to whatever would be more readable to you. By keeping these, you can track your progress and see what you can improve on and what is working the best. It’s also more motivating to write down each accomplished task so you can see what you’ve done for that particular session.

What size weights should I use?

It’s easiest if you start with dumbbells. These are free weights that are sometimes coated in vinyl for comfort or metal. Go to your fitness center or a friend’s dumbbell set and try out which weight is good for you. If you are not trying to build bulk, just firm your arms, than find a weight that you can do 10-15 bicep curl reps without tiring. If you are trying to build more muscle than use a weight size that you can only do 8-10 without tiring. If you can do 20 or more without tiring, than this weight is too light and won’t help you firm or build muscle.

Most women use 5-8 pounds. However, if you are fairly petite, than 3-5 pounds might be all you can manage for a while. And if you are ‘naturally’ strong-15-25 pounds might be your range. But test them out first and see where you fit in, especially if you are going to invest in some dumbbells for home use. (Note: As you get stronger you may need to up your dumbbell weight to keep yourself challenged.)

See also  An Easy Fitness Regime Anyone Can Do

What type of exercise should I do?

You should try to workout your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and chest to strengthen your arms and upper body; this ensures visual and physical balance. Find a book, DVD, magazine, or online site that will show you how to properly work out these areas. If you do them wrong you risk injury and lack of results. Remember that strength training yields the best results when you do each movement slow, focus on muscles being used, and doing more than one set of any activity each session. If you do quick movements you are using momentum, rather than your muscles, and will not strengthen them. So go slow.

And don’t despair if you aren’t seeing rock-solid arms at the end of the first week; it will take 2-4 weeks to see results, so hang in there, and don’t give up.