Training tips for women

We were recently asked to write an article for an online fitness magazine titled ‘Training Tips Women Should Steal From Men’.

Here’s a summary of the five we picked:

Get strong

Women, like men, should focus on strength training.  Strength training doesn’t equal ‘bulk’, it equals stronger.  Strength is the foundation of all other physical qualities so no matter your goal or pursuit you should embrace strength training.

“Whilst this message does seem to be gradually getting through to the mainstream, as a general rule many women still haven’t embraced strength training.  Perhaps it’s the assumption that strength equates to a ‘bulky’ looking physique?  It doesn’t.  In fact, done correctly, strength training will do wonders for the female form.  A tailored and progressive strength programme will also provide the body with the balance, stability and functionality that it craves.  This translates to increased bone density, stronger connective tissue (ligaments and tendons), reduced risk of injury, increased body awareness and vastly improved posture…..”

Embrace muscles

Many women still avoid resistance training fearing that it will make them look ‘bulky’.  It won’t (there are lots of reasons why not).  In fact, the toned look that many women are looking for requires adequate muscle mass combined with the right amount of fat mass.  You can’t tone what isn’t there in the first place!

“Muscle mass (or more specifically lean mass) is at the core of health, strength and aesthetics.   We’re not talking bodybuilding proportions (even if it were possible) but we do need enough to keep the system posturally balanced, help prevent injury and help keep metabolism in healthy order.  Particular areas where most women would benefit from adding some strength and muscle mass are the upper, mid and lower back, abdominals, glutes and hamstrings…..”

Think body composition

It’s not about the weight on the scales, it’s about how you look and feel.  Ditch the morning ritual and focus your energy on improving your body composition.  Fat loss + muscle mass = a lean and toned look.

“Your weight alone is not an accurate marker when it comes to getting into shape.  We are all different shapes and sizes and all things being equal will naturally weigh more or less depending on our stature.  What’s relevant is your body composition, or what your weight is actually made up of.  We need to start thinking body composition, not just weight…..”

Do the big stuff

Most women I know are short on time and frankly have more important things to do than spending hours in the gym doing hundreds of reps of multiple exercises for small muscle groups.  Save yourself the time and headspace and focus on exercises that hit the whole body; you’ll get much better results and in half the time.

“When it comes to training (as with anything) it makes sense to do the things that are going to give us the biggest bang for our buck, which means we need to do the ‘big stuff’.  We need to pick big compound exercises that recruit all of our available muscles and will make us functionally and systemically strong.  Think squats, deadlifts, pressing variations, lunges and so on, treating biceps, triceps and calf exercises etc as luxurious add ons…..”

Train like you mean it

As with anything, training comes down to application.  Prioritise your training time.  Leave the to-do-list at the door and focus on what you are there to do.  Get in, get it done and get out.  You’ll spend less time training and get far more from it.

“It takes a surprisingly small amount of time to get fitter and stronger if you approach your training sessions like you mean it.  You don’t need to walk into the gym slapping yourself across the face a chanting war cries, but a little focus and intensity will go a long way.  You need to train like you mean it…..”

Look out for the for article in the coming weeks…..