For a long period of time, female resistance training was stigmatised as what not to do unless you wanted to look like the female Schwarzenegger. Misinformation was rife on the internet and in fitness magazines which fostered a culture where women would fear the weights room. However, the boom in social media in the last few years has shone a new light on women who do train and exposed many of the myths surrounding women’s training for what they were.
Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat is flooded with the images and videos of crossfitters, keep fitters, physique competitors and healthy eating proponents to the degree that it’s now hard to not take notice of what’s going on. This hasn’t broken new ground in terms of what women should be doing in order to achieve the physique or health goals that they want, rather it has brought it to the forefront of the social conscience.
Having said that here are some tips on introducing women to resistance training.
Train 2-3 Times A Week
In an untrained male or female, 2 sessions a week is the minimum amount you should be doing if you’re serious about achieving results. 3 sessions a week is a good starting place that will provide sufficient stimulus for the body to have to respond, adapt and build new muscle mass whilst also allowing sufficient time for the body to rest and recuperate. Newbies to training often aren’t efficient enough (for example in terms of muscle fibre recruitment) to crush workouts to the degree that a more seasoned trainee would be. So whilst they might be able to train frequently they will most likely experience a significant degree of muscle soreness in the first few sessions. They will also be working to develop new movement patterns and neuromuscular pathways so this will induce neural fatigue which the newbie trainee may not recognise. Providing the body with the correct nutrition before and during training sessions is vital to both performance and recovery especially in the early stages of training when the potential for new muscle growth is the greatest. Amino Charge by EQ is a great product to minimise muscle protein breakdown and ensure you’re providing your muscles with the optimum environment in which to grow.
Use big movement patterns
No woman ever developed the body of their dreams doing tricep kick backs and the seated abductor machine. Any female with an appreciable physique will be doing squats, lunges, deadlifts, step ups and all of their variations. Big compound movements = greater muscle fibre recruitment and greater metabolic response. Increasing insulin sensitivity is one of these responses. The more muscle mass we develop the more insulin sensitive we become (providing our diets are also on point). The more muscle mass we have and insulin sensitive we are puts us in a position to be able to eat more whilst not increasing body fat. Imagine that, eating more and still being lean. If we are talking about melting body fat and improving your body composition, which is 90% of new trainees goals, then these are the responses we need to elicit in order to reach that goal. Supporting these hormonal responses with correct nutrition is vital and if you don’t take aminos during your session and can’t get a good meal in shortly after your session something like Elite Protein by EQ will provide the essential nutritional support to maximise your hormonal response and give the greatest chance of reaching your goals. Remember, whilst weight training will cause the release of muscle developing hormones, the hormonal profile of women will limit them from looking like hulk without chemical assistance.
Train your upper body
The current obsession in the female fitness world is booty. Booty this and booty that. You don’t have to look far to find a build your booty workout from your nearest physique competition. Whilst well developed glutes are great, a well proportioned physique is even better. There can be too much focus on building the lower body as it’s what is in right now and traditionally hips, thighs and bums have always been problem areas for women. Research has shown that women are typically weaker in the upper body compared to men relative to the strength differential between the sexes in the lower body. Perhaps this has come about due to the not wanting big and bulky shoulders or arms. What it does mean is that more time should be spent on developing the upper body. Whilst chin-ups and pull-ups will more than likely be too difficult in the beginning, a good coach will periodise your programs so that they eventually become staple movements in your routine. Presses, and rows and their variants will build the muscle necessary to melt away those bingo wings and bring sexy back to your physique so don’t neglect this aspect of your body.
Don’t always use high reps
Small weights and high reps was for a long time the prescribed way to stay ‘toned’, whatever that means. Being ‘toned’ is another way of saying being lean, and being lean is made easier by generating more muscle mass. More muscle means your body will be able to utilise more calories when your body is in a state of rest. Why? Because muscle is a metabolically active tissue which means it needs to be fed to be sustained. However for the best results for achieving body composition goals women should be lifting weights between the 6 and 15 rep range. Training high reps all the time does little for building an enviable physique. Whilst you may build muscular endurance you’re not providing sufficient stress to your muscular system to cause it to damage and then repair itself a little bigger and a little stronger. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and let the weight dictate the reps.
So for the ladies who are looking to shift some body fat and create that slim, athletic physique they’ve always desired, get yourself a good personal trainer and a solid resistance training program and watch your body transform before your eyes.
No one is saying you shouldn’t do cardio but perhaps put it on the back burner for eight weeks and let your weight training become the priority and watch your body transform.
This article was written by World Champion Boxing Coach Shane McGuigan