Guest post written by: Jim Laird
Over the last 10 years I have counseled thousands of women about their fitness goals. During these conversations I often times must cut through misconceptions and long held beliefs about losing weight and “toning.” Even so, their motivation is loud and clear. Women want to look good and feel good, and they are willing to try almost anything to get there.
Women are not lazy. This is evidenced by the hours of endless cardio they enthusiastically sign up for all in the name of fitness. Spinning, Zumba, Boot camps…and let’s not forget marathons and triathlons. Add in fad diets, crazy calorie restrictions, and dietary supplements promoted by some of the industries well-known TV coaches and it’s a train wreck waiting to happen.
Too few women do any strength training and this is quite simply the answer to the problem. All women need to lift weights. A proper strength and conditioning program will help women achieve their goals and more:
- Improved body composition
- Improved hormone profile
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Increased confidence
And, these results can be achieved with less work. My female clients typically train only 2-3 times a week, many of them cutting their exercise volume in half. In my experience, nothing works better at giving most women what they want (look good and feel good) in less time than strength training. The Miss Fits are perfect examples of how strength training can really work for your “average” woman.
So why do so few women strength train, especially in light of the fact that women are more likely to hire a trainer or coach?
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “I need to work off the ice cream (or pizza) I ate this past weekend.” The reality is that women are busy and not taking care of themselves. They are balancing work, relationships, and kids. Add in sleep deprivation and subpar nutrition, comprised of things like fat free yogurt, carrot sticks and popcorn, and you have a recipe for a binge (i.e., that ice cream or pizza). And, then, the kicker. Women will kill themselves in the gym thinking they can undo the damage. I like to equate this to driving a car 100mph with bad brakes and bald tires. Somebody’s going to get hurt. Even if she hires a trainer, she will likely be thrust into a program that is way beyond her ability to adapt. The bottom line is that more attention must be paid to lifestyle (stress, sleep, nutrition, etc.) as part of a holistic approach to health and fitness.
Loading non-optimal movement patterns
When coaching normal everyday women to lift weights, health and efficiency in the movements should be your number one priority. While some women will push through pain, most women do not want to be so sore they can’t walk up and down the stairs. It’s also important to keep in mind that the majority of women have never lifted weights and, as a result, they will see strength gains with very little work. So, slow down and take the time to build quality movement patterns.
Ignoring or laughing at the fear of getting “bulky”
This is a common concern among women and can often times be addressed by understanding what is defined as bulky. I’ve had a size zero client described as “big.” What I’ve learned is that some women view muscle definition as being “big” rather than the more appropriate term of “lean.”
While most women do not have the hormone profile to put on massive amounts of muscle, it’s critical to be honest about how there are certainly exceptions. The CrossFit games is a good example of how some women respond to high volume training. I also like to educate women on the use of performance enhancing drugs not only in strength sports but in fitness modeling as well.
If you happen to train a woman that puts on muscle easily then you can manage that with the appropriate training program. Hypertrophy can be controlled with volume. However, most women will drop clothing sizes with little weight change or possibly an increase in weight but be prepared to educate your client. Dismissing her concerns is a one-way road to nowhere.
Are you looking for more information like this to help you train your female clients? Are you a woman interested in learning the benefits of strength training? If so, then you must attend Train Like A Girl 2. Train Like A Girl 2 is a 2-day seminar being held in Lexington, Kentucky on February 8 & 9, 2014. It’s only a few weeks away so you don’t want to miss your chance to attend this super exclusive event. This is a seminar for everyone with a world-class list of presenters and coaches.
We promise an event this is responsive to your needs and super hands-on, learning from some of the best in the business. Check out our video and last year’s attendee testimonials on our website at TLAG 2. You don’t want to miss it. Register Today!
We have also added a bonus workshop, CrossFit: A Smarter Approach, on the afternoon of February 9th that will be held at J&M Strength and Conditioning. If you are unable to attend TLAG2, you can still attend this workshop.
Jim Laird has been working as a Strength and Conditioning Coach helping clients achieve their goals since 1997. He has 4 years of Division One coaching experience and over a decade of working with clients in the private sector. He has worked with everyone from housewives who just want to look good and feel good, to professional athletes in the NFL, LPGA, and MLB; his most notable client being Scott Downs who is currently with the Chicago White Sox and is going on his 13th year in the MLB. Jim has also helped dozens of young athletes achieve athletic scholarships to Division 1 schools.
As an elite level Powerlifter, Jim pushed his body to the limit for years, and now understands the difference between working out to be healthy, and working out to achieve a high level performance goal, and he want to help others do the same. Jim has a reputation for two things: getting more results from less work, and getting his clients both strong and healthy. Jim’s motto of “Training Smarter, Not Harder” has earned him the respect and recommendation of numerous orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists.