If you’re a woman who wants to build strength and muscle, trying to figure out which of so many exercises you should include in your workout can be tricky.

But it isn’t the type of training or exercises you do but how often you do it that leads to the best strength gains in women, say researchers writing in the journal Sports Medicine.

Exercise scientists at the University of New South Wales claim the most effective way for women to gain strength is to exercise regularly. The type and variety of exercises you do, the heaviness of the weights you choose and how hard you push yourself don’t seem to have such an impact on overall strength as exercise frequency, they say. Their paper – which claims to be a world first in resistance training study reviews featuring only women – combines the results of 24 different randomised control studies including almost 1,000 women participants of varying fitness levels.

On average, during the 15-week study period the women developed 1.5kg of muscle mass and saw a 25-percent improvement in their muscle strength. But those who had the biggest strength improvements worked out the most frequently. The researchers didn’t find any link between muscle gain and any particular individual training factor.

Now that more women are choosing to do strength training, the study’s authors hope their findings will be helpful.

“Go to the gym and go consistently,” says Dr Mandy Hagstrom, lecturer in exercise science at the university and a weightlifter herself.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do when you’re in the gym, just that you’re there and exercise with effort. The key message for women is to try to and accrue adequate overall exercise volume and train as frequently as possible.”

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash