T Nation

Convicing a Woman Training Won't 'Bulk' Her Up?

I’m training a client who is preparing for a beauty pageant and is also trying out to be an NFL cheerleader. I don’t deal with any of the dance aspects for cheer leading, but I train her to increase her endurance and get the aesthetic aspects for the beauty pageant.

I know that the best thing to do is have her squat and deadlift, but she will frequently ask me “is the gonna make me bulk up?”

I’ve told her repeatedly that it won’t, but I’m trying to figure out a way to explain it that unless she uses drugs, she will be fine. I thought about telling her about professional women athletes who lift, but the only one I could think of was Serena Williams, which probably won’t help my case.

Also, I’ve heard some women say they think that female pro athletes are too big, I think they’re nuts, but I have heard it. Any idea how I can explain this to her to try and get her to buy in to the program?

Make her a ridiculous offer? I agree with you that it’s virtually impossible to manishly bulk up a lady without roids, so just make a low risk bet! “If you get all bulky, I’ll buy you a new car”. I dunno just a thought. I bet you can find some sexy pics of ladies who know what a squat is if you do some lookin too.

Another thing to think about is what does she consider “bulky”? A lot of girls seem to think that what we would consider a bit more muscle tone is bulky to them. So it’s a perception vs reality thing that she’s really just going to have to see for herself.

Try this though (I did this with my girlfriend and a few others girls I’ve worked with): find some pictures of models, cheerleaders, figure athletes and the like, women in generally awesome shape, ask her what she thinks about each of them and what she considers “bulky” and then persuade her from there that it’s not really bulky, but it’s sexy. Worked 4/5 times for me.

[quote]briansays wrote:
Another thing to think about is what does she consider “bulky”? A lot of girls seem to think that what we would consider a bit more muscle tone is bulky to them. So it’s a perception vs reality thing that she’s really just going to have to see for herself. [/quote]
Aw yeah seriously. I can’t stand girls who think I want them to have stick legs and shapeless lines for arms. Gross.

[quote]Dieselengine wrote:
I’m training a client who is preparing for a beauty pageant and is also trying out to be an NFL cheerleader … I train her to increase her endurance and get the aesthetic aspects for the beauty pageant.

I know that the best thing to do is have her squat and deadlift[/quote]
Every trainer has their own methods, but just be sure that it really is the best thing for the client and their goals. Don’t make the mistake of being married to a method and then shoe-horning the client to adapt to you

What about, like, almost every pro athlete? Also find pics/video of powerlifters and Olympic lifters around the client’s weight. Much heavy lifting, nothing that could be considered “bulky.”

Or, even more relatable to her, look up info on Joe Dowdell and his Peak Performance gym in NYC. He’s trained several models, including Victoria’s Secret models, and they generally squat, deadlift, and push/pull weighted sleds among other things.

Joy Victoria’s recent article here on the site also has some idea that might help:


(I’m not saying to give the client that program. Just try to understand the rest of what she’s saying.)

[quote]briansays wrote:
Another thing to think about is what does she consider “bulky”?[/quote]
Yep, ask her to specify what “too big” is. Ask for names and/or pictures. And then be prepared to show her counter-examples of more “moderate” examples of women who lift that you know she would think do have an ideal physique.

If still in doubt, show her the pic above. In general, less fat and more lean muscle (be sure to always refer to it as “lean muscle” because words matter) make bodies look and perform better.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Yep, ask her to specify what “too big” is. Ask for names and/or pictures. And then be prepared to show her counter-examples of more “moderate” examples of women who lift that you know she would think do have an ideal physique.
[/quote]

This is a good idea. Also ask her to find pictures of “fit” women she wouldn’t mind looking like, kind of like finding her own counter examples. She could end up picking out skinny model type women with non-atheltic bodies, in that case you got a tough one on your hands.

The easiest way is to just answer her question directly. Explain what weight is required to be “bulky”, lets say deadlifting 315 for reps (assuming she will never get close to that). Then explain how numbers like 150 and 200 might seem big but because of the leverages of the lift even that much weight does not require much muscle, vs using that much on bench press for a small woman.

Tell her to go look at Jamie Eason. She has a live fit program where she talks about a lot of the fears women (incorrectly) have. To top it off, she looks fantastic and might be closer to the body shape that your client is looking for. If she thinks Jamie is too bulky, well, good luck.

It’s a simple fix really. You have taken measurements and skin folds, right?..
You client should know how big her legs are because of your studious attention to detail… so all you have to do is ask her to trust you and you will remeasure every other week and at any time if she thinks she is too big or bulking up then you will immediately change the program.

You have to establish her trust and once you have she will never really question you again. But it is also a situation that you have to be continually communicating with her…