There really are few physiological differences between men and women, as far as weight lifting routines are concerned. We have the same muscles and they work the same way. Differences in joint angles, particularly legs and bone density require some slight modification; but it is definitely NOT true that "women should lift light weights for many repetitions so they don't get big" That is utter and complete nonsense!
However, women tend to prefer machines over free weights. Free weights develop more agility and coordination, but machines can be faster and easier to use. Some women feel uncomfortable going to the free weight area of gyms, which tend to be dominated by men. It is largely personal preference.
And of course special medical conditions, such as pregnancy, require a different approach to exercise. We are now developing our exercise during pregnancy pages
If possible, alternate the exercises in each group. In other words, do one set of bench presses, then a set of rowing, then bench presses, etc. until you have done 3 to 5 of each then move on to the next group. This allows one group of muscles to rest while you work the opposing group. You'll get a better workout in less time. Remember to use enough weight so that you can not do more than 12 repetitions in any one set - once again, you will NOT get big!!!! Too light weights is just a complete waste of your time - muscles will not tone if they are not challenged by resistance - NOT mere repetition.
"If you are only doing aerobics, you are missing the boat," says Wayne Westcott, co-author of Specialized Strength Training. "You will lose muscle mass and your metabolism will slow down as you age if you don't strength train." See the full USA Today article
According to WebMD:
Aerobic exercise was the magic bullet for the last decade. Every fitness expert urged you to run, step, dance, walk and swim your way into super-shape. But, today, strength training is to the new millennium what cardio exercise was to the '80s and '90s. The newest research now shows that weight lifting (also known as strength training, body sculpting and resistance training) is the key to fitness. Regardless of your activity level, sex or age, lifting weights makes you stronger and more fit for life. Plus, lifting weights allows your body to burn more calories, which boosts your metabolic rate, and helps lean-up your appearance.
To see the full article, click here: http://www.diofitness.com/gettingstarted.htm (these
guys apparently copied it from Web MD, it used to be here: http://web.parenting.aol.oxygen.com/topic/health/fitness/weighttrain/index.html
This is great for beginners to see quick results and those who are either looking to just maintain or have limited time. It is 5 days a week - 3 days of weights interspersed with 2 days of cardio - but actually, you could do it all in 3 days a week for a total of 6 hours per week. Click here to see the routine photos and details. This is the routine I do and recommend most.
This is a fairly intense upper body/lower body workout - it shows very fast results, but the downside is that you're in the gym 4 days a week for weights for a total of 6 hours. (Click here to see the routine photos and details
Another good workout, just a bit different from #2 in that each muscle is worked only once per week. Only for advanced workouts. Write me about it.