When I got my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology in the summer of 2013, I initially wanted to work with athletes. That was my dream. My background was in athletics, so it was a no-brainer. It’s funny how things work out though because here I am now in a completely different situation — majority of my clients primarily consists of women.
The whole process was a bit fortuitous because I unexpectedly developed an affinity for training females. I saw that the vast majority of women were sorely misinformed. Granted there are a growing number of women who are steering in the right direction with regards to their health and fitness, there was a gaping hole that needed to be addressed.
Here are some of things I’ve learned from training women.
1. Prioritize stability and motor control work
This is one major detail I feel gets lost in the details of designing a training program. You have to appreciate the role of congenital laxity and joint hypermobility. And what I mean by that is women are more flexible than men — and have excessive range of motion — which makes them more susceptible to joint pathologies and injuries. The ability to move in large ranges of motion requires adequate stability to control it.
Elbow Hyperextension in Push-ups
Photo Credit: EricCressey.com
Photo Credit: thePTDC.com
So rather than lengthy stretching and mobility drills (still important, by the way), their warm-ups should consist of stabilization and motor control work (planks, bridges, turkish get-ups, farmer carries). Moreover, I strongly advise that you don’t go past joint end range. You’re really just asking for it when you hang out there in the presence of load and fatigue.
2. They don’t eat enough protein to fuel their progress
We want to be able to enjoy food for what it is. Freedom to eat what ever you want is a pretty big deal if you want to stay consistent. Fried chicken wings, and a juicy burger with fries sounds delicious, but you have to be diligent with your nutrition — there is a trade-off if you’re looking to attain a slender and toned physique. All of that considered, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with someone who just doesn’t eat enough to fuel their progress. Yes — I said it. You don’t eat enough to fuel your progress (specifically protein).
Exercise is just a stimulus to set you up for a positive adaptation. That adaptation will only occur if your eating the “appropriate” amount.
3. “Lifting heavy will make you look bulky”
This never gets old, and unfortunately, this will never die out. We can thank the media and Tracy Anderson for this one. To this day, a lot of women out there are still reluctant to pick up heavy weights. Stop the stigma. Dismiss the idea that you’ll get big and bulky from lifting anything more than ten pounds. Moderate carbohydrate consumption, increase dietary protein, get in the weight room, and sprinkle in your cardiovascular work. Watch what happens.
It’s also worthwhile to note that packing on some muscle automatically ramps up your metabolic rate, which helps in the reduction of body fat.
4. They’re way more disciplined than men
Regardless of the training principles they follow or nutrition protocol they’re adhering to, when they buy into it, I’ve found women to be way more disciplined than men. They’ll train more and sacrifice more to get the job done.
Teach them how to deadlift properly, and they’ll love it. When they finally do their first push-up or chin-up, they’ll go berserk. Mix that in with a high-five and a compliment, and their eyes light up. Strength training empowers them.