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.
Oct 7, 2008 — 2:14 pm
Beautiful post. A work of art quite frankly. #10 is the most important one.
Oct 7, 2008 — 2:22 pm
Don’t look now, you’re talking like a trainer. Not the newbie trainers that just took their cert test last week and have never (ever) had to work hard at having a great physique (not to be confused with actual strength).
Really though, any legitimate trainer with decent experience should know most of this and is not likely working in a glitter gym (I had my time there, don’t get me wrong). They’ve moved onto their own studio or niche clientele.
And the rest of us are so tired of hearing ourselves talk to people who won’t listen and would rather throw $65 an hour at us just to make them sweat with high reps, and having women say “I don’t want to bulk up.”
Listen up ladies, MAS is right. I am a woman who would LOVE to bulk up, but the average female in the gym a mere few days a week (even daily) lacks enough testosterone to ever really get “big” without the use of drugs. So stop your whining and pick up some damn free weights.
Oct 7, 2008 — 3:57 pm
spinning is great for your butt. and lower impact on your knees & ankles. good stuff.
kelli’s right – drugs or lots of those weirdo shakes are needed to look like arnette schwartzenegger – by that 7th or 8th rep you should be trembling.
i’m doing an extreme fitness challenge with an awesome trainer (who’s pregnant, so NOT telling me about her hangovers…) and she has de-bunked many things for me. i’m also logging my food on sparkpeople.com – SEEING what you’re doing is so helpful.
and mas – we’re obsessed with triceps because we ALL have or want to avoid the wings. that nasty arm back-fat. shudder. i’m trying to get rid of mine too. assisted tricep dip machine is my friend as those tricep pushups are still too hard.
Oct 7, 2008 — 4:00 pm
and you have to put your hands closer together and hold your elbows in at your sides for those tricep pushups – if you’re bowed it’s not doing the same thing.
ok. i’m done. for now.
Oct 7, 2008 — 6:36 pm
Matt & Kellie –
Thanks for the comments. Both of you know real (non-Glitter) training.
Targeting fat on the back of the arms via tricep exercises is a futile as targeting ab fat with sit-ups. It sucks that women get fat there, but all the direct tricep work isn’t going to fix it. Good luck on your Extreme Fitness Challenge!
Oct 7, 2008 — 10:33 pm
Regarding triceps, MAS is again right on. “Spot training” is unfortunately a horrible myth that wastes the time of many novice gym-goers. Additionally, the standard tricep kick-back is insufficient because few people rarely do them such that they hit more than one of the three heads of the tricep. So while you’re working the muscle, it’s working in an unbalanced and inefficient way.
Further, while it’s a controversial training methodology, functional training would never support the type single dimension motion found in a kick-back. Bar dips, modified push-ups, bench dips, etc…are a far better way to train the muscle.
Oct 7, 2008 — 10:51 pm
Oh, and I totally have to chime in on the spinning thing. Great workout! Great cardio! Great cross-training.
And while yes, it is easier on the knees and other joints, the bike must be fitted well for you. Frankly, while I enjoy spinning quite a bit, I’ve never found one that “fits” anyone really well. A poor fit can actually do huge damage to joints.
One of the big culprits on spin bikes has to do with the placement of the cleat on the pedal. While one can adjust almost everything else, the placement of the cleat is not easily changed and something that cannot be done quickly by a participant between classes. A cleat placed too far left or right of your knee will cause the joint to want to shift side-to-side or, more likely, will cause undo stress on the hip as your legs reach out to where your feet are attached.
Spinning is great. But not a substitute for having your own well-fitted bike, and like everything else, cross-training is key.
Aug 4, 2011 — 6:42 am
If there was writing like this in Cosmo the world would be a much more attractive place.