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Beginner Workout for Women

Hi everyone…I’m a beginner (male) and have seen some fantastic results over the last six months. Really pleased. Of course, the wife now wants in on the action (errr…the ‘looking good’ part). I’ve read a ton of articles on this site about how you have to lift weight to look good, whether male ore female. That countless hours of aerobics actually gives you the ‘skinny-fat’ look.

Which is what my wife has.

She practically starves herself, plus aerobics, to get the perfect body. And she still doesn’t have the ‘ass’ of the women on the magazines.

You get the idea.

I’ve sent her a few articles from this site and she wants me to show her how to do some weights.

Is a plan for a man suitable for a woman? Now before anyone jumps on me for being sexist, men and women obviously have different goals. She wants to look like the women on the cover of Fitness magazine (very lean, shapely).

I was thinking I’d focus on the ones I know – squats, deadlifts, bench press, military, chinups, rows…would this be correct? Any suggestions? Reps? Weights (to fail?)

And yes, her nutrition is terrible (I’m working on it!) as she doesn’t eat enough (though she does make sure she gets an okay amount of protein).

[quote]luthar28 wrote:
[…]

Is a plan for a man suitable for a woman? Now before anyone jumps on me for being sexist, men and women obviously have different goals. She wants to look like the women on the cover of Fitness magazine (very lean, shapely).

I was thinking I’d focus on the ones I know – squats, deadlifts, bench press, military, chinups, rows…would this be correct? Any suggestions? Reps? Weights (to fail?)

And yes, her nutrition is terrible (I’m working on it!) as she doesn’t eat enough (though she does make sure she gets an okay amount of protein).[/quote]

Hi

Women and men use the same basic template (free weights, compounds, 70:30 rule, lifting tempo, last set to failure etc)

Some minor differences include rep range (women are more slow-twitch dominant and thus are usually experiencing better results with a slightly different rep range, instead of 8-12 for men more like 12-15 reps per set, same number of sets) and choice of isolation work (doing some glute or hamstring work instead of bicep isolation)

Also, women’s recovery time is usually a bit longer than men’s, even though she might not want to admit it and (like most women) will absolutely be willing to work through the pain and fatigue, so be extra careful of overtraining (especially on the typical western female low calorie diet)

Another thing that you might want to talk about with her is the general goal/mindset. Women want to ‘look good’, like some cover model. Now there are 2 things to keep in mind.

  1. like men, those women on the cover are usually at a exceptional condition just for the photo shoot, unhealthy low BF%, dehydrated, etc. Their picture is taken by a professional under controlled, optimal conditions, they could be using ‘chemical assistance’ and/or have the image digitally altered. Point being, now matter how hard she trains or how perfect her nutrition is, she won’t look like that after waking up on a normal work day.

  2. what she really wants when she says she wants to ‘look good’ is to feel good. Thats a major difference. Of course, when you look healthy, sexy and attractive, you feel good about yourself. But there are many other factors to ‘feeling good’ than you getting close to some imaginary ideal, like having lots of energy, sexual desire, not having a guilty consciousness when eating a piece of your favorite cake, self esteem and so on. Those things cannot be pictured on the cover magazine, but can be achieved thought training.

Oh, and another good source of training & nutritional information, esp. for females she might want to check out :

If she has never doen strength training, look up Rippetoes Starting Strength, then when she has finished she will probably want to move onto something higher rep like something on http://www.figureathlete.com

It is important to make sure they understand what they are doing and why they are doing it, not just going through the motions

This will help keep them motivated and have better results

I have trained past girlfriends and they will say “Ohh, I dont wanna do curls, my arms are big enough, I just wanna get rid of this tricep fat…”…dumb shit like that. Explaining things makes things easier for both of you

Physiologically, Petrichor hit it on the head

Get her hooked on figure athlete dot com.

http://www.figureathlete.com/

Figureathlete.com… Great idea. She’s hooked. Never realized (nor did she) there was a site just for women.

Okay, next question – she picked Chad Waterbury’s article on getting the bikini body. Her upper body is good (not great, she’s lost a lot of her muscle from this diet – and yes, as you can tell, I’m not happy about her starving herself) and her lower body has those ‘stubborn zones’.

This is the basis of the workout:

Monday: Lat pulldown, Push-up, Barbell squat

Wednesday: One-arm dumbbell row, One-arm cable chest press, Single-leg dumbbell deadlift

Friday: Lat pulldown, Standing shoulder press, Reverse lunge

Now unfortunately, this is a two part article and he hasn’t released the second part yet. But my wife was drawn to this one 1) because she wants a bikini body and 2) it’s simple (hey, for a beginner, that’s important!)

Petrichor: should she strive the higher reps like you suggested? In the 12-15 range? How many sets to start? Perhaps 2? What about progression (2% increase every week?) Doesn’t have to be a definitive answer…just something to get us going.

I’m no expert but I don’t think I’m in the wrong in telling you to just get her hooked on LIFTING, period, and teach her to read her own body.

Anything that she can do regularly will benefit her. Throw in stretching and foam rolling on off days. If she has a lot of fat to lose, then maybe some cardio as well in the mornings (non-lifting days) or right after lifting (15-20 min).

Convincing a women to lift is enough work in itself, at least in my experience. Do not overload her with details else she’ll go back to Nutrislim shakes and cardio purgatory.

If anything, have her watch some interviews with John Berardi so she understands what proper nutrition is:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEnUClneduA

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3ab-POZMZc

And many people will recommend that you pick up a copy of Gourmet Nutrition 2 so you learn to cook healthy.

http://gourmetnutrition.com/

[quote]luthar28 wrote:
Figureathlete.com… Great idea. She’s hooked. Never realized (nor did she) there was a site just for women.

Okay, next question – she picked Chad Waterbury’s article on getting the bikini body. Her upper body is good (not great, she’s lost a lot of her muscle from this diet – and yes, as you can tell, I’m not happy about her starving herself) and her lower body has those ‘stubborn zones’.

This is the basis of the workout:

Monday: Lat pulldown, Push-up, Barbell squat

Wednesday: One-arm dumbbell row, One-arm cable chest press, Single-leg dumbbell deadlift

Friday: Lat pulldown, Standing shoulder press, Reverse lunge

Now unfortunately, this is a two part article and he hasn’t released the second part yet. But my wife was drawn to this one 1) because she wants a bikini body and 2) it’s simple (hey, for a beginner, that’s important!)

Petrichor: should she strive the higher reps like you suggested? In the 12-15 range? How many sets to start? Perhaps 2? What about progression (2% increase every week?) Doesn’t have to be a definitive answer…just something to get us going.[/quote]

I like what you have there but there is no reason to avoid some machines

For a woman a leg heavy routine is great

In fact one day a week here is something you may want to consider

a1 - leg press
a2 - duck foot deadlift

b1 - leg extension
b2 - leg curl

c - step ups (weighted or unweighted)

d - seated or standing calf machine

it is simple and hard

also, if she is building muscle go for a 3x8 set/rep
if she is trying to lose some weight you can go for a longer work load with a 6/8,6,4,8,6,4 with wave loading.

I don’t know if you need direct bicep work.

Cables are awesome for the row and lat pull down, wood choppers and curls

a lot of women have weak shoulders, try supersetting with overhead db press, lateral lifts and punches holding a db. Another good one and kinda fun is holding a weighted exercise ball and just swing it up and down. It works the shoulders and the whole torso.

sorry, one more thing

women train the same as men

she needs to not be afraid to go as heavy as she can

to decrease her DOMS have her take a pain reliever that works for her before the workout and with her PWO meal

PWO nutrition is important in lessening the impact of DOMS. You may want to consider Surge. otherwise have an orange, some good protein, if she isn’t carb sensitive than maybe a nice sweet potato along with things

a soak in a cool bath tub would be a great idea

do NOT over stretch the muscles as this will just cause more tearing

Just don’t force her into lifting. If she doesn’t like it and just feels forced to do it because her husband thinks she has the “skinny-fat” look, it won’t do any good.

There are thousands of ways to be in great shape without going to the gym.

[quote]Kataklysm wrote:
Just don’t force her into lifting. If she doesn’t like it and just feels forced to do it because her husband thinks she has the “skinny-fat” look, it won’t do any good.

There are thousands of ways to be in great shape without going to the gym. [/quote]

This is true but weight lifting is even more important for women than it is for men as we have bone density issues.

Women stop absorbing calcium around the age 30. If we have children a lot of nutrients including calcium is leeched from our bones.

We do need to supplement with calcium but the most effective way to increase the existing bone density is to weight train.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
Kataklysm wrote:
Just don’t force her into lifting. If she doesn’t like it and just feels forced to do it because her husband thinks she has the “skinny-fat” look, it won’t do any good.

There are thousands of ways to be in great shape without going to the gym.

This is true but weight lifting is even more important for women than it is for men as we have bone density issues.

Women stop absorbing calcium around the age 30. If we have children a lot of nutrients including calcium is leeched from our bones.

We do need to supplement with calcium but the most effective way to increase the existing bone density is to weight train.

[/quote]

Fair enough but I always wondered what is was about weight lifting that helps with bone density? Is it training with resistance or just moving weights around? Because you can perform other sports that will kick your muscles and joints in the butt like swimming, martial arts, rock climbing, ect. Can’t those have the same effect?

[quote]Kataklysm wrote:
OctoberGirl wrote:
Kataklysm wrote:
Just don’t force her into lifting. If she doesn’t like it and just feels forced to do it because her husband thinks she has the “skinny-fat” look, it won’t do any good.

There are thousands of ways to be in great shape without going to the gym.

This is true but weight lifting is even more important for women than it is for men as we have bone density issues.

Women stop absorbing calcium around the age 30. If we have children a lot of nutrients including calcium is leeched from our bones.

We do need to supplement with calcium but the most effective way to increase the existing bone density is to weight train.

Fair enough but I always wondered what is was about weight lifting that helps with bone density? Is it training with resistance or just moving weights around? Because you can perform other sports that will kick your muscles and joints in the butt like swimming, martial arts, rock climbing, ect. Can’t those have the same effect? [/quote]

great question

here is one link for you
http://www.naturalnews.com/010528.html

I know it has to do with the tugging of tendons and movement of the muscles on the actual bone that stimulate the cell formation.

I think the article explains it pretty well

there was also an interesting article where they compared the fibula of an ancient Greek Olympic athlete to a modern athlete and it was twice as thick.

Here is a portion of the linked article.

Strength training does not mean that you have to train for the Olympics or tediously do the same exercise over and over. According to Healing Moves, a variety of exercises will yield bone-building benefits: "Physical impact and weight-bearing exercise stimulates bone formation. Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you regularly place demands upon it.

The best bone builders are exercises that put force on the bone, such as weight-bearing activities like running and resistance exercises like strength training. In general, the greater the impact involved, the more it strengthens the bones." However, it is important to distinguish the exercises that will increase bone density from the ones that will not. “Weight lifting, including curls and bench presses, is a beneficial activity �?� Dancing, stair-climbing and brisk walking are all weight-bearing exercises, which promote (good) mechanical stress in the skeletal system, contributing to the placement of calcium in bones. Aerobic exercises such as biking, rowing and swimming do not strengthen the bones,” writes Gary Null in Power Aging.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
Kataklysm wrote:
OctoberGirl wrote:
Kataklysm wrote:
Just don’t force her into lifting. If she doesn’t like it and just feels forced to do it because her husband thinks she has the “skinny-fat” look, it won’t do any good.

There are thousands of ways to be in great shape without going to the gym.

This is true but weight lifting is even more important for women than it is for men as we have bone density issues.

Women stop absorbing calcium around the age 30. If we have children a lot of nutrients including calcium is leeched from our bones.

We do need to supplement with calcium but the most effective way to increase the existing bone density is to weight train.

Fair enough but I always wondered what is was about weight lifting that helps with bone density? Is it training with resistance or just moving weights around? Because you can perform other sports that will kick your muscles and joints in the butt like swimming, martial arts, rock climbing, ect. Can’t those have the same effect?

great question

here is one link for you
http://www.naturalnews.com/010528.html

I know it has to do with the tugging of tendons and movement of the muscles on the actual bone that stimulate the cell formation.

I think the article explains it pretty well

there was also an interesting article where they compared the fibula of an ancient Greek Olympic athlete to a modern athlete and it was twice as thick.

Here is a portion of the linked article.

Strength training does not mean that you have to train for the Olympics or tediously do the same exercise over and over. According to Healing Moves, a variety of exercises will yield bone-building benefits: "Physical impact and weight-bearing exercise stimulates bone formation. Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you regularly place demands upon it.

The best bone builders are exercises that put force on the bone, such as weight-bearing activities like running and resistance exercises like strength training. In general, the greater the impact involved, the more it strengthens the bones." However, it is important to distinguish the exercises that will increase bone density from the ones that will not. “Weight lifting, including curls and bench presses, is a beneficial activity �?� Dancing, stair-climbing and brisk walking are all weight-bearing exercises, which promote (good) mechanical stress in the skeletal system, contributing to the placement of calcium in bones. Aerobic exercises such as biking, rowing and swimming do not strengthen the bones,” writes Gary Null in Power Aging.

[/quote]

Wow that was a great read, except I feel dumb now for never having heard of this. Thanks Octobergirl :stuck_out_tongue:

It gives much more weight to weightlifting (haha -_-) but my comment still stands I think, don’t push her too much into lifting.

No, I’m not pushing her into weight lifting. As if I could push her into anything! I actually brought it up because she said that she’s not seeing results on the cardio machines (years of cardio), she’s sick to death of sitting on one machine for an hour, she’s sick of dieting…and she wants results.

So I sent her a few articles from this site…and she said that she wanted to give it a try.

We had our first day today. Went pretty well. Not great, because, well, I’m not a trainer and I’ve only been doing this a short time myself (blind leading the blind). I don’t really know what to get her to do (though there are some recent suggestions here that I’ll pass onto her).

Based today on an article from this site (for today): lat pulldowns, pushups (girl push-ups or whatever they’re called), squats, one leg bridge, reverse crunch. Mostly, it was getting her used to the exercises. She did 2 sets of 12 (though I see someone suggested 3x8 instead) and she did almost everything to fail (squats were just getting used to the motion).

She says she’s excited for her next work out.

All in all, a good first day.

Oh, she said she was intimidated by all the big looking guys. I said I was too when I started (and still am somewhat).

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:

For a woman a leg heavy routine is great

In fact one day a week here is something you may want to consider

a1 - leg press
a2 - duck foot deadlift

b1 - leg extension
b2 - leg curl

c - step ups (weighted or unweighted)

d - seated or standing calf machine

it is simple and hard

also, if she is building muscle go for a 3x8 set/rep
if she is trying to lose some weight you can go for a longer work load with a 6/8,6,4,8,6,4 with wave loading.

[/quote]

I’m a beginner too…so I’m not sure what “6/8,6,4,8,6,4 with wave loading” means. I found wave loading posted (interesting!) but I’m not sure what your numbers mean. Is that reps? Sets? Ack! My ignorance is annoying!

While she has a very small upper body (she’s lost a lot of muscle from all her dieting) her legs and butt are still her problems areas. She wants to lose fat in those areas and basically ‘tighten-up’. Hey, her words, not mine.

Anyways, should she still focus on leg exercises?

[quote]luthar28 wrote:
OctoberGirl wrote:

I’m a beginner too…so I’m not sure what “6/8,6,4,8,6,4 with wave loading” means. I found wave loading posted (interesting!) but I’m not sure what your numbers mean. Is that reps? Sets? Ack! My ignorance is annoying!

While she has a very small upper body (she’s lost a lot of muscle from all her dieting) her legs and butt are still her problems areas. She wants to lose fat in those areas and basically ‘tighten-up’. Hey, her words, not mine.

Anyways, should she still focus on leg exercises?

[/quote]

my apologies

the string of numbers was the number of reps she should do on the specific lift.

if you are doing wave loading it means the weight and/or reps change with each set.

I start with what I consider a medium weight and then the next time I jack it up to a very heavy weight, down to a slighty lower but heavy weight, then back up, then down but I do not go to failure. It takes some time to figure out where you need to start This is where it would be really valuable to purchase a small note boox 5x3 or so and start keeping track of your numbers, you can refer to your weights whether heavy or light and how many sets. With a notebook you can make sure you are challenging yourself each week, or you can determine if you are hititng it too hard. You won’t be overtraining but you won’t be progressing.

The good part of this type of training is that it creates a longer fat burning cycle then a shorter set/rep scheme. Also, it gives a beginner the opportunity to really work on form.

I do believe as a female she should focus on legs and ass first and then shoulders. She may have nice looking shoulders but the majority of women have weak shoulders.

She may also have weak hands that will tire before she reaches the end of her planned lifting schedule. An easy way to begin strengthening the hands is to twist a towel. Just grab and twist and twist and twist, release the towel and begin again. Eventually she can progress to pinching plates between her fingers. Farmer walks are also good.

You might be tempted to switch things up a lot to find out what peaks her interest and to keep her from being bored but the best motivater will be progress and the best way to progress is to give your chosen program a chance. Give it at least a month once you’ve chosen a set routine.

Why not give the leg day I set up for you a try. Once she wakes up and feels sore, but not too sore, she may feel a sense of accomplishment.

She can still do some cardio if she enjoys doing cardio. I know it is the devil on this site but folks need to do things they enjoy also. Just limit the time and vary the machine.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for the advice. That leg workout sounds good. She really wants a leg and butt workout, so that’s probably a great place to start.

BTW, she HATES cardio. She’s done it, consistently, for five years, with little results (she’s not fat, but now she wants to sculpt).

You know, I never put two and two together – that a lot of the well sculpted women hung out with the weights. I was of the believe, that if you lifted weights, you got big. Well, I’ve been lifting weights for five months, and I’m NOT big. In fact, I see guys who are doubling what I’m doing, and they’re not big.

And the fact that a women next to me yesterday was doing a heavier military press than me – and she still looked hot. My wife (who was with me) said ‘I want to look like her’. So I think she can now see the potential of resistance training.