Exercise for Women: What’s the Bottom Line?

As a trainer of women (and men) for over 25 years, I feel pretty confident that I know what you are looking for when you search “exercise for women”. You want to exercise to get in better shape, but make sure you don’t end up looking like a man. Your interests are weight loss, decreased body fat, toned, but not large, muscles, and a fit, but still feminine, physique.


I can’t speak for all exercises that men do, but can say that most men’s exercises can also be women’s exercises. There is an understandable misconception that certain exercises can make you more masculine and others feminine. The truth is our genetics and hormones dictate what we will look like far more than our exercises.


A man and woman doing the same exercises will have very different results. A man will generally achieve an increase in muscle size and a decrease in fat. A woman will have less muscle growth resulting in less fat loss. Women have to do more exercise to achieve similar fat loss than men. But regardless, their muscles will not grow the way that men’s do. Women doing the same exercises (with typical female hormones, and assuming proper diet) generally get smaller as they get leaner. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of images of women with rippling muscles like men, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Most of them are supplementing with male hormones to achieve a level of muscularity that only a man can achieve. There are some exceptions, though.

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As a trainer, I tend to associate the word exercise with resistance or strength training. In case you are looking more generally for different exercise activities.


For a woman to achieve great results her best chances will come from a combination of resistance training and some form of cardio exercises. Also, daily exercise, versus, every other day is more advised. This helps maintain an elevated metabolism leading to burning more calories 24/7.


Again, most exercises will work fine for both men and women. So, feel confident that an exercise you’ve seen can work for you. But, if you’re still wary, when doing the exercise, stick with lower weight and higher repetitions. This approach minimizes a female’s chance of increasing muscle size. So, the exercises can be the same as for men, but the repetitions and intensity might differ.


I’d like to be able to help you with your goals. Here are a few way I can help:

Mike Caton