2014 Update. This post made me cringe a little because my opinions have changed, so I made a few updates. Not complete, but better.
This post is for the ladies. On many occasions, I’ve ranted against the personal trainers who work at the various Glitter Gyms. Although the time you spend with your trainer is time you aren’t watching Maury Povich and eating no-fat Weight Watcher cookies, I believe I can do a better job training you. But I’m not a personal trainer, nor do I desire to be one. I fear I would lose too many brain cells digesting their high-rep nonsense to pass the certification.
Do you want to be buff? Follow these steps and stop listening to your trainer tell you how drunk she got last weekend.
- Never touch your face. Ever. The gym is a germ factory. Stay healthy and avoid sickness.
- Never do more than 2 sets of any new exercise. Focus on form when learning a new exercise. Your goal is to get stronger, not sore, and certainly not injured.
- Don’t wear running shoes, especially if you are tall. Running shoes are for running. Wear the flattest shoes you can find and if allowed, don’t wear any shoes. You want to be firmly grounded when doing any standing exercise. Running shoes can cause the back to round forward and will greatly increase your odds of injury.
- STOP DOING HIGH-REPS!!!!! High-rep exercises will not get you leaner. They will make you too sore to come back to the gym. Keep reps in the 5-7 range. No that was not a typo. Increase the weight. Respect the weight. Any weight you can lift with good form for 10+ reps is a weight you do not respect. Your mind will wander, your form will suffer and you will get injured. 2014: I now consider time under load a better metric than reps. Although I still favor low reps with a higher weight than high resp with a low weight.
- Want to lean out? Reduce your rest time between sets. 30 seconds. That means less chatting with your personal trainer. Don’t increase the reps.
- Stop the tricep dumbbell kickbacks. Women are more obsessed with their triceps than 20-year-old males are with their biceps. Do push-ups and bring your hands closer together. 2014: Static hold kickbacks with a lighter weight is a good alternative.
Favor compound exercises over isolation moves.2014: I was wrong about this. Isolation moves are safer and can be just as effective as compound ones. I really like the machine-based Big 5 Workout described in the book Body By Science.
- GET OFF THE TREADMILL. Steady-state aerobics are a waste of time. Want to run? Do sprint intervals. You lean out in the kitchen, not reading People magazine in front of a wall of TVs.
- LEARN THIS: STRENGTH DOES NOT EQUAL SIZE. Many women and sadly some men believe that there is a direct correlation between strength and size. Martial artists and body weight (not heavyweight) powerlifters are extremely strong and not big. For a woman to gain so much muscle as to be big would require years of training, a massive number of sets, and steroids. Ladies – you can be as strong and as feminine as you want. Never fear that reaching for a heavier weight will make you less of a woman.
- Women need to deadlift. It had to be said. If your ass is pancake flat, you need to deadlift. And be sure to have perfect form and please don’t wear running shoes. 2014: There are other exercises that target the glutes that require less skill than a deadlift. Various forms of hip bridges come to mind. For deadlifts, I prefer stiff-legged ones.
So if you follow these 10 steps, you will avoid sickness, soreness, and injury. Your primary focus in the gym is to get stronger, not leaner or bigger. Want to lean out? Cut out or reduce bread, sweets, alcohol, pasta, cereal
all potatoes except yams. Double your veggie and fiber intake. Increase your lean protein intake. You will make 70-80% 90% of your gains in the kitchen, not the gym.