Tag archive

Resistance training

Should Women Train Differently than Men?

Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how females should train. Most have the goal of looking leaner, toned, and a more curvy. In this post, I wanted to answer the most frequently asked question, “Should Women train differently than men? ”

Short Answer: No, not really.

With the questions I frequently get, I have put together 7 considerations for helping sculpt a sexy female figure.

1.) “Toning” and “shaping” are not the answer.

Weight training in popular media for women generally revolves around words such as “toning and shaping.”
Lets examine “toning” This term is used to make muscles appear firmer, and tighter without them appearing bigger. It’s a common, but extremely thawed thought. Routines based upon “toning” likely involve extremely light weights for very high rep amounts. Think pink dumbbells for 20 rep sets of triceps kickbacks. Unfortunately, these routines are not challenging enough to the muscle to force growth and change.

Without challenging you body to grow and change, how will it look any better?  With or without excess fat, a body looks healthy and fit with a little more muscle.

Shaping offers a different, yet equally confusing idea. Muscles cannot be shaped; rather, they are pre-determined by your genetics. You can’t physiologically change a muscles shape, only whether it is bigger or smaller.

2.) You should lift heavy.

Certain goals for both men and women are similar. The most common is a firm, toned, sexy look. One of the best ways to get that look, for men or women, is with heavy weight. Lifting heavy weights is the fastest, and most efficient way to build myogenic muscle tone… or the highly dense, toned muscle that you seek.

Photo Credit: List09.com
Photo Credit: List09.com

“But won’t lifting heavier weights make me bigger?” This leads to right to my next point…

3.)No, lifting weights will NOT make you bigger.

Why? Building muscle is very, very, hard. Ask any guy. There is a reason we train year in, year out, eat copious amounts of dead animal flesh, and cherish any small, muscular changes. And that’s with a plethora of hormonal benefits from testosterone helping us out! Unless you have extremely rare genetics you won’t be piling on slabs of muscle and look like Hulk Hogan.

Additionally, there are tons of factors that mitigate muscle growth: Training style (most importantly, muscle tension and training volume), diet, and hormones (as mentioned above.) Unless you are taking external testosterone, training with way too much volume, and consuming a ton of excess calories you won’t be getting bulky.

With that thought, I recommend all women do some sort of heavy training once per week. 
Try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push presses, and rows for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps with the heaviest weight you can safely do.

4.) There is no such thing as spot reduction

Men and women deposit fat differently. Men generally carry more body fat centralized around the abdomen whereas women carry more excess fat around the hips and thighs. For both genders, spot reduction is a popular topic. In most cases, body fat is lost evenly throughout the body. Therefore, in order to be leaner in a particular area fat loss needs to occur all over.
I find the best exercises for losing fat all over are done in a standing position, such as sprints and high intensity weighting, rather than a seated position like a stationary bike, or rowing machine.

5.) Women have a different weight distribution than men.

Because women carry more weight in their lower body they are generally relatively weaker in the upper body, but just as relatively strong in the lower body. In most cases it’s best to regress upper body exercises, such as a push up or pull up.  Rather than watching in horror as a female grinds out worm-ups, regressed the exercise by performing it with a barbell racked off the ground. Just because someone can’t do a full exercise…yet… doesn’t mean they shouldn’t perform any variation.

6.) Women have better stamina than men

Women can handle a higher training density– less rest between sets and a higher volume– than their male counterpart. This may be due to an overall decrease in relative strength. This factor allows women to train at a higher frequency with a higher density than men.

*Note: Training density (doing more in less time) is a huge variable for fat loss.   

7.) Women need more protein

I find most of my female clients drastically under-consume protein. Protein does three awesome things for your body: Protein can blunt your appetite to keep you fuller for longer, speed up your metabolism, and help you maintain your muscle (giving you that toned, dense look) while stripping off  unwanted fat. I tell my female clients to have protein with any carbohydrate source and shoot for their body weight in grams of protein. This would mean a 120 lb female consumes roughly 120 grams of protein per day.

Wrap Up

Okay, I’ve got to run, but I gathered a list of great sites and resources for you to check out. These are some of the best fitness sites for females looking to build awesome bodies. Fellas, you can take a look to and stop giving poor advice to women who ask you :).







Let me know any questions you have and how you currently train!


“Beautiful Crossfit Woman.” List 09. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.list09.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/crossfit-girl-Laura-Plumley1.jpg>.

Romaniello, John . “Sexy Female Training.” Roman Fitness Systems. N.p., n. d. Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.romanfitnesssystems.com/blog/6-tips-for-building-a-sexy-female-body/>.

Schuler , Lou, Cassandra Forsythe, and Alwyn Cosgrove.The New Rules of Lifting For Women . New York City: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.



Functional Training: You’ve Been Duped.

You’ve all been duped.
 Heres’s why: A few weeks ago I spent some time in a typical “big box gym.”

Surrounded by people struggling through wobble boards and 10lb bosu biceps curls,  I nearly ran for cover to avoid being clubbed with a stray, flailing dumbbell.  This is not functional training. Rather it is  inefficient and potentially dangerous training.

Functional training is training for a specific cause, to improve a certain function for better performance. This could be a sprint mechanics session to improve a sport, a high-volume weight training routine to build muscle, or some high intensity intervals to shred fat.

Specifically, training should match the biomechanical (movement), energetic, and coordinative aspects of the sport or activity being trained for. Is there a sport that requires this?

gym fail 2

Functionality Is Goal Dependent

For a Powerlifter it’s completely functional to perform near-maximal lifts and good mornings to strengthen the lower back, but this same function doesn’t apply for someone rehabbing a lower back injury.

If your only goal is to look good naked then functionality will be focused on bringing up body parts that have the greatest visual impact on your physique. In this case, performing curls, triceps extensions, and various shoulder raises are completely functional because they bring you closer to your goal of bigger arms.

What Functional Training Is Not

You know those half balls, small pumped up disks, wobble boards, and stability balls? Ditch em’! Unless you are trying join cirque du soleil using these devices they are pointless and potentially dangerous. Looking to increase stability? You better be stable on one or two feet on solid ground, where sports are being played. The only thing unstable surfaces improve is your ability to use an unstable surface. That’s it.

In athletic populations it’s best to avoid these devices as reduce power output, a vital factor for sporting success. In this research study by Eric Cressey and colleagues at the University of Connecticut unstable training was shown to dilute performance gains in healthy, training, division 1 athletes.


How Unstable Surfaces Limit Athletes

When standing on an unstable surface energy being applied to support the body is being dispersed. This is known as a power leak and leads to decreased power output– a key attribute for nearly all sports. Unstable surfaces used in training are a limiting factor and limit power productive in training, to the detriment of sports performance.

As stated, functionality is goal related. If your goal is to be stronger use progressive overload and multi-joint movements. If your want to excel athletically maximize specific movement patterns for your sport and top it off with specific resistance training protocols.  If you want to be shredded use a combination of a great diet, anaerobic/aerobic training, and heavy resistance training to hold onto muscle in a caloric deficit.

Wrap Up

Define your goals and what you are looking to achieve in your training. Stick to evidence based protocols and if needed, contact a professional who has done it before . Blind-folded Bosu ball sandbag squats are recipe for sub-par gains, not high-performance.    Stick to tried and true methods for rapid results to build a strong, shredded, and athletic body.



Cressey, E.M., C.A. West, D.P. Tibiero, W.J. Kraemer, and C.M. Maresh. The Effect of Ten weeks of Lower-Body Unstable Surface training on Markers of athletic Performance. ” National Center for Biotechnology Information.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research ns 21.2 (2007) :561-567 PubMed.gov.Web 28. June 2012. <http://www.ncbj.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=$20Eric%20Cressey>.

Go to Top