It's not a myth—muscle burns more calories than fat. For this reason, among others, many women desire to add more lean muscle to their bodies. But where do you begin?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the minimum recommendation for strength training is twice a week. You're going to need more specifics than that, though. You're going to need a game plan for your strength training goals.
1. Seek Better Balance
Balance the time you spend on cardio machines and the time you spend lifting weights. Women often resort to machines in hopes of staying lean, but the real long-term winners will be those who find the right balance.
Cardio exercises burn carbohydrates, fats and proteins—in that order. Since muscle is made up of protein, too much cardio will reverse any muscle gains you've developed. Try limiting your cardio to only high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio, which is six times better at burning fat than steady-state cardio, and is less likely to eat into muscle reserves.
2. Pay Attention to Workout Order
Many women go in to a gym without a plan. They pump out a few sets of lightweight reps on whatever machines are open or look the least intimidating.
What these women typically don't understand, however, is that the sequence of their exercises matters—a lot.
As a general guideline, work your muscles from large to small when performing full-body workouts. Start with your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, as they make up 60 percent of your muscle mass. Next, work your chest or back, followed by shoulders, biceps and triceps.
It's also recommended to start with compound movements (exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time) before isolation exercises. For example, do lunges before hamstring curls, deadlifts before lying leg raises, or pull-ups before planks.