The Glute Squad: How Women Should Lift
Does the answer to a woman’s ideal physique lie in the weight-room?
More and more woman are starting to take notice of the benefits of resistance training but a major road block is the lack of knowledge and confidence to be able to actually go to a gym and start lifting. This is the most likely the reason that when you go into most commercial gyms you will see an endless amount of women on cardio machines trying to sweat every last lb off.
What women need to understand is:
- Cardio alone will not create the change in body composition you’re after, yes it will burn calories, but without resistance training you won’t get the toned physique and ‘peachy’ bum you so desire.
- Bodyweight in a lot of cases is not a representation of appearance, it is not uncommon for a women’s body composition to improve but weight to stay the same or increase.
It’s common to see phrases such as ‘Train like a man to look like a woman’ but is this correct? In my opinion, no. Although the principles may be the same things such as exercise selection, rep range, need to be different for a man and a woman!
This is where programming becomes important!
So let’s break it down:
Strength sets – self-explanatory, they create strength but aren’t going to create the greatest amount of muscle growth.
Power and Hypertrophy sets – Will create the greatest adaptations in terms of muscle mass, for me when it comes to deciding how to use these two rep ranges it depends on a number of factors such as the muscle group, fibre type to actual success and/or enjoyment in those rep ranges.
This is where the differences between a male and females training program should mostly lie, each different rep/set range produces different physiological adaptations which could lead to completely different physiques. Below are three rep ranges, all of which have different effects. Both can be used by men and women but in different blocks ad styles to create a desired physique.
From the off it is important to remember that women don’t have the means to build a massive amount of muscle. Men have up to 8- 10 x more testosterone than women and I personally have been trying to get as big as possible for a couple of years now and I’m still tiny. When training woman we are mostly trying to retain as much muscle mass in most areas whilst trying getting leaner but we can also look to improve upon certain areas (lots of female clients want a firm, peachy bum).
We all know progress boils down to progressive overload (if you’re unsure what progressive overload is you need to read http://www.joeneillfitness.co.uk/2015/10/16/progressive-overload/ It will unlock a whole new perspective on your training and help you understand how to continually progress in your training). Ultimately a person’s physique comes down to consistent execution of clever programming. Unlike men, women don’t always want things to get bigger, so we have to pick and choose what exercises we use at what rep ranges in order to meet their personal goals
It’s important to ensure that we train the whole body in order to make sure we don’t have imbalances but we can put emphasis on certain muscle groups in different sessions, blocks or programmes.
The session below would be an example for a female client who wants to get bigger glutes and a toned physique but doesn’t want bulky legs or upper body. So as usual she’s not asking for much.
As you can see we prioritise volume to muscle groups that need added attention, not only would we do this with rep ranges but also periodization schemes (go on, you know you want to read the article mentioned earlier). The one constant is you need to carry a good level of intensity into every gym session, but don’t just train hard, train smart!
So, in conclusion:
Lifting weights will build the figure you want
Be selective with exercises, if you don’t want big shoulders, do less exercises on your shoulders (tgis very rarely means do none)
Reps and sets should be prescribed to get you to your desired figure
And remember lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky!