As a female athlete, if you want to get stronger and more athletic, you need a scheduled weight-training program. It might look easy—you go into the gym and do a few Squats and Curls—but it's much more complicated. (Find out if female athletes should lift weights.)
Too many women rush into training and end up getting injured or despising exercises. To avoid these pitfalls, you need to follow a plan that starts at a basic level and progresses as you make gains, so you stay healthy and enjoy your training sessions.
Follow these tips to get started on a weight-training program that will accomplish your fitness goals.
It's crucial to develop basic form before grabbing a barbell or a set of dumbbells. Only after you master the bodyweight version should you attempt to add weight. (Find out more about bodyweight exercises.)
Never toss on your goal weight for the first set. Start with light weight to prep your muscles and body for what's to come. Complete a set of 8 to 10 reps with light weight, then start working up to your goal.
If you have mastered form and are comfortable adding weight, then do it. If you're aiming for 10 reps for a particular exercise, make sure you use enough weight so you can get only 9 to 10 reps. If you can exceed your range, it's time to add more weight. It's the only way you'll see results.
Never work the same muscle groups on back-to-back days. It takes roughly 48 hours for muscles to recover from a workout; this is when muscles actually get bigger and stronger. So if you work legs today, do arms tomorrow. If you do full-body workouts, rest a day between training sessions.
Find a teammate who will train with you. You can spot each other, watch each other's form and challenge each other. Having a little competition in the weight room never hurts.
Never go into a workout blindly. Have your goals and exercises in hand. You'll save time and have a much more efficient workout by knowing what you need to do. Also, tracking your workouts allows you to measure your progress and stay focused on making gains.