Tuesday 23 October 2012

My Number One Training Tip for Women

Yeah, I'm a guy, so what do I know about training for women? Well, more the half of the people I've trained during my career have been women. I have studied female-specific training issues. I have even taught a women's only weight training class (the university registration people made a mistake). More importantly, I've also been in the fitness industry for a long time now and I know what works and what doesn't. I know what it takes for a woman to transform her health, body composition and performance. I have also seen way too many women who slave away for hours each week and yet fail to make progress. Nutritional issues aside, the main reason many women fail to make progress is that they are following special "women's toning routines".
If you have a fitness background, you no doubt know what I mean. A women's routine goes something like this: take some really light weights (e.g. the small pink dumbbells) and do thousands of reps on an inferior exercise (e.g. triceps kickbacks). Then make your way over to the inner/outer thigh machine and the butt blaster to work some more "problem spots". After that, do tons of abs and then finish off with a few hours on the StairMaster. 

Now before I go any further, I want to make something very clear: I'm in no way trying to make fun of women who do these routines. The purpose of this blog is to help as many people as possible. Everyone who gets off the couch and does something to move their sedentary body has my respect! However, it is my professional quest to help people maximize their return on the valuable time they invest in exercise. Please trust me when I say that unless you are 18, or have model-genetics, these routines will not work for you (they do not work for teenagers or models either - but some people succeed despite what they do - not because of it).

So, here it is, my number one most important training tip for women:

Train like a man.

If you want to transform your health, body composition or performance, you need to train the way guys train (or should train). Ladies, if you want to look and feel your best, it starts with getting over your fear of bulking up (see Part 1 and Part 2 on Why Ladies Should NOT fear Bulking Up). If you truly do have a naturally muscular body, then check out my post on Non Bulk Strength Training. The next step is picking the best exercises. The best exercises for women are the best exercises for men: squats, deadlifts, presses, pull-ups, rows, and related variations. (Forget about targeting your problem spots because you can't spot reduce anyway). Once your have learned proper technique on these exercises, work on gradually and progressively increasing your weight. Add some sprints, jumps, loaded carries and other functional exercises and go to work! 

When women engage in real functional training, something magical happens. It is like they finally give their body what it has been asking for and the transformation can be even more noticeable than it is with guys. Your health improves, your risk of osteoporosis goes down, your metabolism revs up, your measurements go down, you performance shifts into high gear and you make your body more resilient to injury.

When I was mistakenly assigned a women's weight training class at the university I work at, I jumped on the opportunity to share with them what I have just shared with you. In the class, we had a slogan that I stole from the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess. And on that note, happy training. 

Note for fitness professionals: Saturday, October 27th I'm doing a workshop on How to Look and Feel Like an Athlete. This is the perfect workshop for anyone who trains female clients and wants them to look and feel their best! Click HERE for more details. 


  1. I just attended MFC in Wpg and had the pleasure of meeting you. I am really enjoying your blog and youtube channel. Thanks! (The roller derby girl.) (I'm sure I was the only one.)

    1. Thanks for your feedback! Hope you enjoy the content and you kick some butt in your roller derbies.