Women’s training – shifting the focus

There is so much conflicting advice for women when it comes to training. You’ve probably read or heard that women should not be afraid of lifting heavy weights in order to reach their goals. In my tried and tested experience, this has proved to be 100% correct.

However, how do we rationalise this advice when in the majority of cases, women feel that their goals are almost opposite from the goals of most men?

What do men want? I asked around and not one said “I want a cute butt and look good in skinny jeans” A lot of men want to get “shredded” i.e. a V-shape back, big muscular arms, chest and shoulders.

I’ve never heard a woman say “I want to get big”. A broad back and big arms are not on our list of priorities. Women generally want to be slim, have a flat stomach, toned arms and legs and a pert derrière.

So how do we achieve muscle ‘tone’ and not bulk up?

What we mean by being toned is that we want to have firm and visible muscles rather than focussing on increasing the size of our muscles. Very simply put, this is achieved by reducing body fat and prioritizing strength training. The same way men will achieve their goals.

We need to trust that we will not look like men for shifting heavy weights. Men have more muscle mass than women because their bodies produce more than ten times testosterone than women, so we actually have to train much harder than men do, in order to build and maintain muscle. It is very rare for women to build muscle easily, and it’s a blessing if we do!

As women, we would benefit from shifting our focus from fat-loss to gaining lean muscle and improving performance. The more muscle we have, the higher the metabolic rate, which in turn means we will burn more fat around the clock. Then the fat-loss becomes a by-product of more challenging and measurable performance goals.

So the bottom line is yes, we should be training the same way as men because despite having different goals, we achieve them by applying the same principles of building muscle through strength training. We need to stop feeding the obsession with the temporary ‘Lose 5kg in 1 week’, fad celebrity diets, thigh-gap nonsense and adopt a positive approach to developing healthy, fit, lean bodies.