It always interests me when I see any female go through a gym induction - words like ''tone up'' and ''fat burning'' zone are often used which ultimately builds a very specific image in the clients head - ''must avoid heavy weights.''
Let me tell you this, doing 30 reps of each machine with 1 plate on will do jack s***!!!!! The body changes (adapts) due to new stresses - it is ''required'' to adapt/change once it is exposed to stimulus it isn't comfortable with.
As a female, if you want to get lean, slender or toned (whatever you want to label it as - you want to reduce body fat and retain muscle mass to create a firm/toned figure) then you are best off challenging the body.
Take 5 minutes in any gym and look at the female clients and you will notice often the ones in the best shape lift - that is certainly true in my experience.
By doing this you are going to trigger many processes which all ultimately help facilitate preferable changes. IF you want to train properly for fat loss/body recomposition here are my main points.
1) Lift heavy - work within rep ranges of 4-6 with compound lifts and rotate that with German Composition Training. In short, I would recommend 1 ''strength'' week and 2 GCT training weeks (as a basic starter).
2) Work the entire body - compound lifts are your friend. Deadlifts, Squats, Bench press, overhead press and so on.
3) Be powerful - control the weight (I have little concern of women trying to cheat to impress others, unlike us men) and be explosive in the lift during strength workouts.
4) In your GCT workouts focus on time under tension - 4 second negatives are key, it means your muscles are working for longer, being stimulated for longer and as such creates a better reaction (calories burned!!).
5) Cardio - don't EVER spend a whole night on the cross-trainer, ever. Resistance training is much more beneficial for body recomposition over ''cardio'' and if your gym instructor tells you different then sack them!! Cardio will lead to your catabolising your lean muscle mass (which you don't have much of!) which means your metabolic rate will decrease as will your ''anabolic'' hormones. This is bad - in short you are training your body to become skinny/fat. The typical look many achieve when they stop eating anything meaningful and start renting a space in the gym!!! (cardio section!).
6) Not all cardio is equal - with female clients I prefer them to do interval based work. A simple 12-15 minute sprint workout twice a week is a great place to start, 15-20 seconds all out, 30-45 seconds rest and repeat. That will do it. . . . . . .
7) HeMan - hormonally you don't have the capacity to get ''hench'' like a man when you lift weights so don't stress. You have approximately 1/10th the testosterone of an average man. To transform you want to elevate your natural testosterone levels believe it or not, lifting heavy helps with this!
Girls you know what to do, now get to it!