Many women have been given misguided advice about their workout routines. The general consensus is that light weights are for "toning" and lifting heavier weights for "bulking up." Since many women do not want to look like female bodybuilders they see in the pictures and on TV so they automatically think by lifting light weights they will prevent looking "massive" or "manly." This is a false notion!
Exercise routines for women should include periods of lifting weights heavier than 5 pound dumbbells! The reason is that by lifting heavier weights, with safety and proper form, and then progressively increasing the weight used a woman will become much stronger for everyday activities. In addition, lifting heavier weights will help her build muscle faster. By eating properly, following all doctor-recommended nutrition advice, and doing cardio she may find that she is more muscular, weighs roughly the same, and actually dropped a clothes size or two!
Obviously, including heavier weights during workout routines for women requires proper training on form and safety. Once a woman learns how to do the lifts properly, she may find the lifts to be more enjoyable and give her better benefits than her previous forms of exercise. Of course all exercise routines for women require balance between strength training, cardio, and other forms of exercise such as yoga. Make sure you get prior medical approval before making any changes to your current exercise, nutrition, or health activities.
One final note: female bodybuilders are usually much smaller in real life than they appear on TV or in the magazines. Remember that it is the camera man's job to capture all of the images with enhanced lighting. Take away the weeks of dieting, coats of tanning oil, last-minute techniques to bring out muscular definition, and water deprivation and most of the bodybuilders look a lot different one week later. So do not let the images you see of contest bodybuilders scare you away from lifting heavy weights!