I just read on another post that to increase strength, you should keep the reps low. Is this ok for women, too? I've been staying at 8-10 reps but increasing my weight each session. Should I go for broke and only do 1-4 reps? My goal is to lift more, pure and simple. Out do myself, if you will.
Also, I've read that you should work the biggest muscles first and then the smaller ones. True? Which muscles are considered big in each area (ie: arms, legs, back). I've been looking (albeit half-heartedly) for a good anatomy book.
go somewhere between 4-6 reps for strength. a lot of people (myself included) use a pyramid rep scheme, i.e. 12,10,8,6,6. increase the weight each set and take the last set to failure.
as far as muscle order goes, do compound excercises before isolation excercises. compound excercises are those which recruit several muslce groups, i.e. squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups, etc. if you aren't doing any of these movements, then a basic rule to follow is chest before triceps, and back before biceps.
Yes, low reps will help you become stronger. No offense, but doing 6-8 sets is more of a bodybuilding workout than a strength training. I've found low volume frequent workouts are the best for gaining strength, for me.
It's true, the biggest muscles come first.
Big- back & chest
Sorta small- Traps, biceps & triceps
Small - abs & calves
The only time I wouldn't follow this order is if something is lagging behind. For example, if shoulders weren't up to snuff, I would do them before chest.
4 to 6 reps would be more for strength and size IMO and based on most of what I've read. For only strength gains you want to be lifting at around 85% to 100% of your one rep maximum (how much you can lift only 1 time) so your rep range is going to be 1 to 4. For strength gains what you really want is to get a neuromuscular failure rather than with size gains where you're going for hypertrophy. Look into the difference between neuromuscular failure and hypertrophy and you'll likely find the answers you seek and the science of reps.
Yes, it's OK for women. As a matter of fact I was just thinking the other day about this female powerlifter I saw sometime ago that was 110 pounds and looked like your average petite little girl but she could lift like a bad *** and had a very womanly figure. Muscle size and strength are not one in the same, you don't necessarily have to be bigger to be stronger up to a point.
As for the body part stuff I agree completely with what's already been said.
Keep Pumping...see what happens
Normally, because of genetics and not having as much testosterone as a guy....women do not bulk like guys. The women bodybuilders have to work extremely hard and keep to a strict diet to look the way they do for competition. Most others look much like Evl says. Women who lift can have the muscles, have strength and be very feminine. Enjoy the empowerment it will give you.
My models are those who compete in the Strong Women contests...as you see such a variety of body types/shapes represented...and all strong. My own lifting routine has become a combination of strength and powerlifting because I just happen to like doing it. At 52, 5'6" and 180lbs....not looking at bodybuilding as such. Was never "lean" as a kid/teen and happy where I am and what I can do.
I was 245lbs a year ago and more for nearly 33 years longer. So if you are interested in lifting? Like my 72 year old mother told me when I first started.....Go for it!
I'm still feeling my way around the gym and my goals there. I've been going regularly for 6 months and have seen tremendous improvement.
I think I'm hooked on seeing the definition in my arms and i love my *pow* biceps I see when I'm brushing my teeth So I guess I want to see my muscles grow to their potential while continuing to define what I have. I'm not worried about getting too big (not sure I can, we'll see what my genes hold, I guess).
I will use the order you offered and steadily increase my weights. What I've been doing is 4 sets of 10 reps, increasing by 5 lbs each time. Rarely do I make it to 10 on the last set. I guess it looks like I can add more each time. Good for me (hee hee)