We each have one of those women that we see in the gym or magazines, these are the ones that you feel are the epitome of a fit, healthy, sexy body.
The most common things you’ll hear about these women are:
“I want to look like her”, “I want legs like her”, “I want her a$$”, “I want her abs”, etc… the list goes on.
The definition of “her” is always different for everyone but no matter what, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
When I first started to begin really making training a full time career I was living in San Antonio, TX, working for a big health club. For some reason, I don’t know why, about 60% of my clients were rather attractive woman, and I will say I NEVER complained. In fact it was a joke at my gym that if she was hot she was most likely going to train with Travis… like I said, I NEVER complained 😉
I had some reasonable success in getting these women into stellar shape, in my opinion some of my best physique work was back then. 90% of them had abs and amazing legs when we were done, a few landed some pretty large modeling deals and I even had one that ended up in Playboy (so not kidding about that).
How did I get them into that kind of shape?
Honestly it was because I threw away every fitness magazine workout and terminology that I’ve ever heard and trained them like I would train a guy. In fact with some of these women I would push them harder than my male clients. During this time I picked up quite a few truths about, in my opinion, what it took for a female to be the epitome of a fit, healthy, sexy physique.
As my education and career ambitions took hold I began to drift away from just physique building and focus on other aspects of training, most notably corrective work. I knew that if I could prevent injuries and get muscles to fire in the right patterns I could not only improve muscle function, strength, and longevity, but as I found out some pretty impressive muscular development would occur as well. So, this meant that I could continue to prolong and fine tune physiques for maximal client development.
This blog isn’t about those advanced tactics – I’ll save that for another – but instead this is for those that want that foundation of hotness.
First off, if you’re reading those fitness magazines throw those damn things out. Any magazine that tells you how to “tone” your arms with 3lb dumbbells is full of poo and they are just trying to sell you a subscription, ask ANY fitness competitor and they will tell you the same thing.
If you’re keeping it around for the motivation I’ll understand that but DON’T read it!
Muscle toning does NOT exist
You can’t tone a muscle, it either it grows or gets smaller; a toned muscle is a muscle that has GROWN.
For some reason women think if they train with heavy weights they will instantly bulk up and look manly. Ladies, there are plenty of men that work out and don’t look bulky or manly so this will not happen to you.
The reason you don’t have to worry about this is mostly due the hormone levels not being sufficient for muscle growth at a males pace, and in fact there are a number of men whose hormone levels don’t allow for that kind of growth that you are terrified of.
You do NOT need to lift ‘light’ weights
I would consider a light weight is anything that you can get more than 15 reps out of. Most females should be lifting in the 8-15 rep range and on occasion going 4-6 reps.
Contrary to popular media and Dr. Phil-based TV shows, lifting lighter weights does not burn many calories; you will by far get a MUCH better caloric burn and metabolic increase from lifting heavier weights.
An example that I give my clients is when I talk about their glutes is that since the glute is such a large muscle the body HAS to increase its metabolic demand significantly (this equates to burning more calories) to repair the glute after a heavy, hard workout. So it isn’t always about how many calories you’ve burned IN your workout that matters, it’s how many your burned AFTER your workout that matters.
Rebuilding a large muscle like that can elevated the metabolism for well over 24hrs and thus cause your body to burn a substantially larger amount of calories during its rest. You’re making that metabolism work for you even though you’re not doing anything.
Your MUST force your body to adapt
Once your body has completed an exercise or workout it then begins to make the necessary physiological changes to ensure that it can complete that exercise again next time. So yes, you made a positive change but you have to ensure that your body keeps changing. You must force it to adapt on a continuous basis (sometimes called progressive overload) to ensure that your muscles are developing the way that you want.
Too many women (men are bad about this as well) get stuck with the same workout that got them their first 10lbs off then wonder why they haven’t changed since. The reason is that they have not presented their bodies with a new challenge so there is no reason for it to get stronger or lose fat.
To make sure that you don’t run into this situation ALAWYS force your body to adapt to a new stimulus by either changing sets, reps, rest times or better yet, WEIGHTS.
You MUST do BIG exercises
Those ladies that I got into phenomenal shape were NOT doing dumbbell curls and tricep kicks backs with 3lb dumbbells. These women were doing pull-ups, squats, dead-lifts, presses, etc…
They did big exercises with NOT so light weight; these were challenging weights. They did NOT use the abductor and glute machines ,nor did they stick with Zumba classes.
Your big exercises such as: Squats, Lunges, Dead lifts, Rows, Pull-ups, Chest Presses, High Pulls and Overhead Presses stimulate the most amount of muscle fibers in a given workout. More muscle stimulation equals more calories burned and more muscle development AND the body of the girl you want.
There are a few differences
I tend to preach to my clients that about 80% of the time men and women can train the same way but there are a few key differences that I have noticed over the years.
–Women need less rest.
I have yet to find an article that really backs me up on this but I discovered that if I had any of my female client rest the same duration for rep ranges that I had my male clients they seemed to lose their “groove” or “pump”. I can only theorize that this is due to women having less body weight and muscle mass so they can technically recover quicker from a heavy load. I use to follow a pound for pound rest ratio but I eventually learned that women can recover from a set a lot quicker than a male so I eventually threw that rest ratio out.
Rarely do I have my women rest anything longer that a min. Most of the time its 30-45 sec, and I can admit I have seen women lift some impressive weight and be ready to go again in 20 seconds without a decrease in performance with their lifts.
–Women can handle more training volume
I had to push some of my ladies pretty hard, even to the realms that I looked at the workout and went “Damn, I would hate my trainer for this”, but they got some of their best results that way.
Why is it they need more volume? Honestly, I feel this piggy backs off the rest comment from above, with less muscle mass the rate of recovery tends to increase and thus they have the capacity for more work and can benefit from it.
Having them do one or two more sets are the norm for me over some of my male clients.
I tend not to go too far into the dieting differences with men and women but with the way women’s hormones and metabolisms function they can tolerate and benefit from a lower carb diet better than a male. So, a carb cycle of low carbs to moderate carbs on workout days tend to yield some pretty good fat loss results.
Wrap it up
I will admit that I’m sure you can think of plenty of exceptions to the rules and I can too, but for 90% of the women I have trained for physique development these rules tend to stand out as true.
Remember ladies – you can train just like a male, and in a number of cases harder, and get some amazing results that WILL turn you into “her” where people will want what you have worked for.
I’ll say this out of respect for those I trained. It is NOT easy; if it was everyone would look hot, but if you bust your butt and work harder than you think you even need to I can assure you that you’ll be impressed with the results
In Health and Awesomness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, CES, RBT is the owner of Fitness Revolution in Rowlett, TX.
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