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Strength Training for Women 101 – Part 1

Strength Training for Women 101 – Part 1

Strength Training for Women 101 – Part 1


The primary concern women have when it comes to weight training is, “I don’t want to get big or bulky.” I am here to tell you that you won’t!

The culture of fitness training is changing all the time but one fact that is always there is if you lift weights you can be in great shape.

I mean you can have a serious toned butt, shining hamstrings and strong arms that look awesome in a sleeveless dress.

But why then in this country do I constantly hear that the weight training area is for guys and women need to “condition” their body.

Bad trainers who try and coach with no experience in strength work find it way easier to teach a core plank bridge than teach a box squat or a band assisted chin up.

Its way easier tell a women she needs to do sit ups than it is to strengthen her full body with a deadlift.

Strength Training for Women 101 - Part 1

Fit Female Project at TFS Gym

But to understand strength training for women we must look at some key areas. One is testosterone.

The hormone testosterone is responsible for the large increases in muscle mass seen when men lift weights. Women’s testosterone levels are a fraction of men’s testosterone levels.

Normal testosterone levels in men are 200-1200 ng/dl while 15-70 ng/dl are normal in women.

As you can see, men’s testosterone levels are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than women’s.

Even if a man is at the LOW end of the men’s normal testosterone range (200 ng/dl), he still has more than twice the amount of testosterone as a woman at the HIGH end of the women’s normal testosterone range (70 ng/dl). If we look at the median or mid-range testosterone levels in men and women, men = 700 and women = 42.5.

So on an average, men have 16.47 times more testosterone than women!

It is clear that women do not have the hormonal support (testosterone) to gain muscle mass like men. Therefore, the fear of becoming big and bulky and looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger is a myth.

If you are a woman and want to gain muscle and improve your shape and curves, then you are going to have to lift heavy weights.

This means that instead doing endless reps with light weights, as the media often prescribes women to do, you need to lift some heavy weights and really challenge yourself!

While performing high rep sets (15-20 reps) does have some benefit, it is not optimal to adding muscle mass.

Here is a very vague overview of rep ranges:

1-5 reps = Strength

6-12 = Hypertrophy

12+ = Endurance

That is very superficial overview of rep ranges as there is a lot of crossover of adaptations between rep ranges.

For example, many people grow lifting solely in the 1-5 rep range and 12+ rep range. But it gives you an idea of the weight you need to lift to grow; a weight that you can complete for at least 6 reps but not more than 12 reps.

Men and women do not need to train differently to see results, but what about diet?

Should women eat differently than men?

Not really. Men’s and women’s metabolisms are very similar except that women burn a greater ratio of fat to carbs than men.

This may be one of the reasons women do well on lower carb diets. The main thing that needs to be adjusted is one’s total caloric intake.

Women need fewer calories than men because men have more muscle mass and less fat (relative to total bodyweight) than women. The amount of protein, carbs, and fat will be dictated by the amount of calories one eats.

I have shown that women do not need to train or diet much differently than men. Then why do I always see women in some gyms performing hours of cardio and lifting the lightest dumbbells in the gym for endless reps?

This is most-likely due to not being informed, or even misinformed (by the media), about how women should train.

In my Gym I kicked that thought out the minute I opened the door. We have lighter weights only for rehab purposed with athletes.

What about diet?

One of the most common breakfast meals recommended to women is yogurt and a banana. Now there is nothing wrong with eating a yogurt and banana, but where is the protein and essential fatty acids?

If you are a woman trying to gain lean muscle, you will need to eat adequate protein and good fats (essential fatty acids).

It is time to stop listening to the media and misinformed individuals and time to become educated and get results.

Teachers teach, judges judge, lawyers know the law, nurses nurse and a qualified coach coaches.

Listen to them.  They are some of the most helpful people in society.

In Part two I will explain a simple diet structure for female strength training plus everything you need to know about what exercises give you the quickest results without spending hours in the gym.

Brian Roache


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