How should women train in the gym?
Even after almost a decade of practice as a fitness professional, one common phenomenon I still see in the gyms is the avoidance of ‘genuine’ weight training by women. By genuine I mean structured weight training focused on compound movements and progressive overloading.
The dogma that still prevails around is that lifting heavy will make women look bulky and masculine, which physiologically is not possible as women lack the main muscle building hormone – testosterone, to a level that it can make them look masculine.
Unless there is an exogenous administration of anabolic steroids, there is no way a woman can look masculine. In fact, the muscle & strength gain as a result of progressive weight lifting will only make them more attractive and it leads to the development of the tone which women desire.
Woman by nature tend to have more body fat percentage and a lowered metabolic rate as compared to men. This is due to the dominance of female hormone – estrogen which promotes higher level of fat tissue than muscle mass, probably to support pregnancy. As a result, it’s even harder for women to lose body fat than men.
It should be understood that the word ‘tone’ simply means muscle development combined with body fat levels low enough to reveal the shape and tightness of the muscles.
Dropping body fat is best achieved by selecting exercises that are aimed to:
- maximize caloric output during workout
- raise BMR after the workout (to help burn further calories during rest)
- build lean muscle mass (to increase BMR & improve insulin sensitivity in the long run)
The best exercises for women to achieve them are exactly the same as they are for men i.e. the compound movements and the structural lifts. Exercises like:
Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, Step Ups, Clean & Press, Snatch Rows, Pull Ups / Downs and Presses (Vertical & Horizontal).
These exercises are multi-joint exercises which help recruit the maximum muscle groups in a single rep, and hence have the potential to maximize caloric output in a single exercise session.
Progressively overloading them will also ensure maximal breakdown of muscle fibres and hence more energy expenditure for recovery.
These are also the exercises which give the most bang for the buck to BUILD more lean muscle mass. So they will give women sexier legs, booty, back, arms & core rather than choosing isolation movements & repping them out with light weights.
So how should women train in the gym?
Train like an athlete focusing on performance improvement and getting stronger choosing the biggest lifts majority of the time. Finish the sessions with some isolation stuff like curls & extensions and some core work. Follow it up with sufficient protein intake to support muscle growth or retention.
Some interesting facts are that physiologically, women:
- have better potential to recover between sets
- can handle greater training volumes
- better oxidize fats during training
- can handle more frequent ‘intense’ sessions
These facts should encourage them to train even harder than men in the gym.
Cheers to the WOMAN POWER !!!
Many female and male clients have greatly benefited from Abhinav. You can see some of his client transformations here.
You’re welcome to contact Abhinav to achieve your fat loss, muscle & strength gain and figure / physique transformation goals!
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Abhinav Malhotra is an award-winning personal trainer, coach and sports nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. He also offers online services to clients around the world. A personal trainer par excellence, Abhi has worked with the world’s leading fitness chains, supplement brands and founded his own fitness academy in India. He has achieved successes for many clients from all backgrounds and has trained the Indian Army Rugby Team. He is the first International Kettlebell Sport athlete from India.