Female Fat Loss (AKA: Why are Personal Trainers Idiots?)

I should start by saying that I rarely ever visit the forums these days - and this is the first time I’ve ever been on this exact board. That being said, I’m sure that this topic has already been beaten to death repeatedly, but I simply didn’t see those threads (I tried using the search, but there was just too many results to sift through)… In any event, here’s the breakdown:

She’s a female, mid-40’s. Wants to look good nekid. Stands to lose maybe 50 pounds of fat.

My advice so far: Full body, 3x/week. 4 lifts (squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, flat bench press, back rows). 3 sets per lift, 12 reps per set - with as much weight as she can take. Aerobic work (aiming for around 60% of MHR) for 20-30 minutes 3x/week - on non-lifting days.

She’s been struggling to stay on top of the aerobic work - and her diet is still very much a work in progress. But the good news is that she’s been attacking the weights and she likes using the protein powder. She’s only a few weeks into it and she’s already made huge strides both in her waist and in her arm measurements.

Here’s the kicker: She just joined a (big) gym, and she was promptly instructed that everything she’s been doing is completely wrong. The protocol above is (supposedly) going to make her big and bulky! The guy told her she needed higher reps and lighter weights. - And he said that she needs to do the big muscle groups on separate days. (He’s got a diploma and everything!)

My friend trusts me - but moreover, she trusts the results that she’s seeing with her own eyes. But, I’m hoping that some of the beautiful women here can chime-in with their thoughts on the matter and ease any doubts that she might have. She’s scheduled to have a complementary training session with the trainer tomorrow and I already have visions of endless ‘core’ work, stability balls, and plastic pink dumbbells.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Sounds like she’s doing all the appropriate things…I lost 50lbs this year myself! She doesn’t have to do as that trainer says…And if he starts to suggest useless crap, Id tell her to call him on it!

I see women all the time that are overweight, and the last thing I would have them do is balance on a whatever you called it…and my gym has no pink dbs :wink:

I’ve been told by a few trainers (ones that favor lifting and would laugh at the “bulking” comment) would opt for a rep range between 18 & 25 for women wanting to lose weight. I’m not being arguementative but I do want to see some discourse for clarity. My wife has come to me with the same need. She wants to drop 10 to 15 lbs.

8-12 rep range,circuit style training…

18-25 reps??!

Yeah 8-12 circuit training - and some quality interval energy system work 3 times per week.

Gyms are filled with wannabe trainers - like in my gym - I see alot of women cruising the gym with no particulare goal, felling lost… And the trainer, well… he’s a 160 lbs knowitall with skinny fat body…

Circuit training is the best imho…

You don’t become a world class sprinter overnight when you start jogging.

You don’t become a huge bulky beast of a woman overnight when you start weight training.

The women here generally like to see definition, but some women are icked out by that. Remind her of the good things with weight training - bone density, firmer flesh, open your own jars, etc. And remind her that she will not get bulky and big unless she provides the calories (and whatever else) to support that goal, and works her ass off to reach that goal. It doesn’t happen accidentally. Fat is bulky.

Thanks for the input!

I haven’t gotten her into circuit training yet, but that’s on the schedule. She’s still trying to adjust to using proper form, proper breathing, etc., so my thinking is to keep her focused on one lift at a time until she finds her comfort level. - Then we can kick it up a notch.

Since it sounds like she is a total beginner… keep in mind that ANYTHING will work right now… seriously… ANYTHING! Simply put, more activity + a cleaner diet = fat loss for beginners. In my opinion however, I would make sure she had a decent strength base first. Now I am not necessarily talking “decent” by powerlifting standards… but she should be able to do 10-15 pushups, 5-10 inverted rows, and squat OR deadlift close to her bodyweight. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to get injured and the more options you have when it comes to weight training. If she is doing circuits right now with almost no base, they will be much less effective than when she does them once she has a base.

I would have her do 3 full body days in the beginning… and have her super-set upper and lower exercises in the 6-10 rep range… like a lunge with a pushup, then a glute bridge with an inverted row, and a pulldown with a plank or something of that nature. (make sure she does twice as many exercises for her “back muscles” i.e. glutes, hamstrings lower back, upper back and she does for her “front muscles” i.e. quads, chest, abs)

After 6-12 weeks of workouts like this, you can start doing upper body days and lower body days and focus a little more on strength. I guarantee she will have lost lots of body fat doing this, if her diet is in check and she is doing some cardio. Then once she has her strength base you can run her through more circuit-style workouts. They will be more effective and she ill be able to push herself harder without getting injured since she has a strength base.

Awesome, thanks for the input! I definitely know what you mean with regards to developing a good strength base. - I showed her this board today and we looked at a bunch of the training logs. I think that helped provide some perspective on how much strength women can have - and without “bulk.” She thought that I was joking when I told her that she couldn’t complain until she was squatting her own body weight. :wink:

I’ve never heard the ‘twice as many back as front’ rule before, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ll keep that in mind as we move forward.

Glad she is gaining some perspective about getting “bulky”… =D

Yes, definitely keep the back vs. front thing in mind. It will save her LOTS of potential issues with her shoulders and knees! (even more important for someone in their 40’s!) =D

Love the title. Personal trainers are idiots…

i argee with molly, anything will be a benefit!! and that is awesome she’s trying and going for it! and awesome you are helping her out.

in my personal experience, fat loss or whatevr, pretty much comes down to diet and eating behaviors. Which is the hardest part–for me at least. You can pound away like a mad person and undo it all if you still are using bad food behavior thingies. once you get to a point were you’ve really changed and replaced your bad habits wiht good ones,then it all comes pretty smoothly, in my experience that is.

i’d recommend just getting her jazzed about working out–which will make her feel better about her self pretty much straight out, which can help her with the whole food thing. less fuss, just positive changes will create more positive changes. but way to go helping her out :slight_smile:

Other folks know more about the technicalities than I do, but encourage her to trust her own judgment (and yours) over the fitness industry’s. The success I see around T-Nation, and whatever successes I’ve enjoyed, are due to being enough of a stubborn cuss to think for oneself a little bit, and not doing the same thing as all the other women in the gym.

To answere why most “trainers” suck

  1. It’s all about selling sessions. Most of the gyms around
    here the trainers get paid next to nothing and make there money by selling sessions. Therefore they are going
    to tell people what they want to hear. They are also going
    to let the client shape the program. If I had a dollar for every client I have turned down because they refused to work legs or only wanted to do arms.

Let’s do curls lol even thoe they can’t hold a bridge
for 10 seconds. This also plays into the biggest looser deal beat the client to death lol Even Thoe
i work too Much, don’t get enough sleep ect ect ect.

  1. Most trainers are lazy they have no idea how to progress people or coach the main lifts. Like Molly says anything works at first so off we go circuts, circuts, lol. They body may change but what are you going to do with them next ? Starting where the client is and building a base is the key to long term succes.

  2. Anyone that is any good has there own place or works for themself.

Stuff like that used to bother me
now i just
sit back and smile :slight_smile:


I had Mike Boyle for a course in highschool and he said he always thought when some woman said this to him “The odds your going to work hard enough to put more muscle on your body than you want is astronomical”

I thought this thread would be the best place to get my question answered. I’m training my wife who wants to drop some lbs. I’ve been training myself for 2 years with success. I wanted to make sure I’m having my wife train correctly. I got her eating good too.

Copied & pasted from my log:


Mr. NvrTooLate’s Log

Felt weak today with a head cold. Had a 4 day recovery/ deload period then caught a head cold in the process. (I have a 5 yr old and a 3 yr old so go figure)

Worked out with the wife showed her proper form, etiquette and dispelled the myth: “I’m gonna get big and bulky if I lift heavy weights”

Machine Press 3 x 10
DB Flat Bench: 65’s x 10, 85’s x 6, 95’s x 8
DB Incline Bench: 65’s x 10, 75’s x 10, 60’s x 10
DB Incline fly: 30’s x 10, 35’s x 8, 40’s x 8
Machine Dips: 2 sets of 10
Dips: BW x 10, BW +10lbs x 8
abs: 4 sets of 10

Mrs. NvrTooLate

5 min. warmup
Machine Press: 3 sets of 15
Superset curls & skullcrushers: 4 sets of 15
DB Single Arm Rows: 4 sets of 15
Smith Military Press: 3 sets of 15
Machine Dips: 3 sets of 15
abs: jack knives 3 sets of 10

10 min. eliptical @ 145 bpm - 5 min. of stairs

I’m really proud of her: next work out will be squats, deadlifts, lunges, maybe more back etc.

what are you all’s recommendations for daily calories + macro count for a girl who is roughly 145lbs, 23% fat and wants to get to roughly 135lbs at 18% bf. right now she is eating roughly 150g of protein a day, 150g of carbs, and 44g of fat for roughly 1600cals per day. should she decrease carbs and increase fats? and are recommendations for girls and guys the same? thanks a lot

also, how much water weight can a woman gain on average during menstruation? i know it’s different for everyone but a rough estimate would be good. thanks!


Water weight is shed during menstruation, not gained. Remember that from the time a woman ovulates, her body is preparing the uterus for the fertilized egg to implant. Thus, she is retaining water during her luteal phase (the part of the fertility cycle between ovulation and the onset of menstruation) to create a placenta-ish building of nutrients on the uterine wall.

During menstruation, these nutrients are sloughed off, this includes the water-weight gained. This is completely unavoidable, unless you are a hardcore weight-cutting distance runner (who have incredibly inconsistent fertility cycles). As to your question, it depends on salt intake, water consumption, sweat-loss, etc. Body composition also plays a role.

If you are trying to get someone in particular to look better (read more firm/flat) during this time, I would completely discourage that. Part of being a woman is the fertility cycle, and everything that goes with it. She should be proud of her unaltered fertility cycle…it makes her a woman! When we try to force women to constantly look and feel a certain way, we are degrading who they inherently are.

I am not saying that all women should sit back and let things go. Extremes (extremely light menstrual flow, lack of weight-gain, extensive weight-gain, extremely heavy menstrual flow, severe cramps, etc) indicate that something is off balance. Often, a change in diet or exercise–for the better–will alleviate these extremes, and make them more comfortable.

Every one has an opinion. Its unfortunate that someone who has a diploma is so uneducated. I am in the business of what works, and if what works goes against curriculum then so be it. I will soon be graduating and I can honestly say that my diploma is simply a formality. If i dont have it there will be nothing shiny to show future employers. Its the same thing with certifications, they dont really help you that much; they are simply formalities, you know how you have met a good trainer? they speak of their knowledge through practial experience, and they have solid examples, and draw from people who have done it, ie… charlie francis, yuri v., Louie Simmons, Clyde Hart, Eric Cressey etc…Nothing is ever 100% correct when it comes to fitness so you HAVE to draw from MULTIPLE disciplines.

I have been training this individual, she started off at 144 lbs @ a size 8 3 months ago. she could not squat or bench the bar. Shes currently 133 @ a size 4 and can do 155 lbs on the squat x 5 reps and bench 115 x 2. This all occurred in 3 months because I invest my intellect into what works.

Do not listen to these rookies who tell you higher reps/lighter weight. They do not have practical experience, they dont even know how to correctly train themselves, they are trying to get a quick dollar, and put no real thought into your training.

training is not easy, organization of training is the most important, listening, sensing, hearing, seeing, these are all to be used by a good coach, but these people at x sport, and lifetime…most dont care, they dont put time into you, they maybe spend an hour. A successful, and quality trainer I assure you will invest hours into your progression as an individual, days, and months. They will treat you as if you are their significant other, as if they are training themselves.

The best trainer though, is yourself. Therefore tell your friend to invest in some quality fitness lit.