Many Questions for a Female Friend

Hey, guys. I hope I’m posting the right question to the right place. And you guys seem pretty(by that I mean very) knowledgable so I’m crossing my finger here.

To begin you off, I have a 5’8" about 200lbs female friend. She is so far just doing cardiovascular exercises, and I suggested weight training for fat loss. However, she knows nothing and I barely know anything to make any kind of “program” for her to follow for an effective weight loss.

Q1: So she doesn’t want to bulk up. She wants none of that hypertrophy. What should she aim for, strength or endurance??

I did read the articles by Christian Thibaudeau and from many other internet sources. And they all have different ideas as to how many reps per set whether the goal is strength or endurance.
According to Training for Newbies Part I by Christian Thibaadeau, this is the general scheme:

2-3: strength with little size gain
4-5: strength and size gains, but more strength than size
6-8: strength and size gains, almost equally
9-12: strength and size gains, but more size than strength
13-15: size gains, and some muscle endurance gains
16-20: muscle endurance gains, and some size gains.

But in Part II, he says:
Functional hypertrophy (6-8 reps)
Total hypertrophy (9-12 reps)
Strength-endurance (13-15 reps)
I hope you see some contradictions here, if you think I’m mistaken, please do correct me because I really want to know what’s what.

Q2: So if one doesn’t want to bulk up, how many reps per set? 13~15 or 16~20? or 2~3?
Also, to my understanding, 2~3 sets seems to be the best option, am I right (or wrong) ?

And so far, with my pitiful knowledge, this is what I have come up with. I do want criticism. Just don’t call me names, lol :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t need know the most best perfectest work out routine, but something that’s pretty efficient and that will cover most part of your body. If you see anything wrong or have concerns, do not hesitate to tell me!! I want to know!!
Oh I must mention that she’s weak so she can’t really do dips or pull ups, maybe girly push ups.

A: Chest + Back
Chest press
Chest fly
Reverse fly
B: Shoulder + arms
Lateral raise
Overhead press/dumbbell
Tricep extension
Bicep curls
Girly pushups
C: Abs + Legs
Leg extension/press/curl

R = rest
Is that fine? Too much/little work out? Redundant? Missing something?

Gosh, this is such a long post… Thanks for reading this and your thought/comment will be deeply appreciated and enlighten me. Thanks!!

-Black Iris

  1. She knows that weight loss is 95% nutrition work?
  2. Is she comfortable to exercise for months and years?
  3. I assume no medical issues

The big point is to make it a habit. In the beginning you don’t need isolation exercises like curls or extensions.

Starting easy:

(maybe girly) Pushups
(maybe girly and/or horizontal) Pullups

Do 3 sets of 10 reps each! Start with lower reps, if she is too weak for now.

Do it three times a week with Cardio in between!

Come back in two months! Then you can care about the perfect rep range and stuff.

Oh, and don’t call it “hypertrophy” but “toning” :wink:

why 3x10? there is no advantage for starting someone at this rep set scheme, people just recommend it because that’s what they think a beginner is supposed to do.

She needs to learn how to eat right. Find a diet plan here on T-Nation (or at MWA), and make sure she understands that SHE has to follow it for a long time. She’s not going to drop 60 pounds in a matter of weeks. It’s going to take a solid 6 months (maybe less, maybe more) to lose the weight initially, and maintaining any gains is going to take all the time.

“Women should train the same as men period.”
Tell her to read this, and then go buy the books mentioned. (Total props to Eric Cressey and Cassandra Forsythe).

Read the beginner stickies at the top (same as i would tell a man), choose a diet and training protocol she can stick with and do it.

BTW, girly pushpus don’t do shit. If she can do 1 pushup, then do 5 sets of 1, if she can’t do any, start with another chest exercise, but continue to try and do pushups. You’d be amazed how fast the body catches up.

Most importantly, choose a plan, and do the plan. Don’t modify it, don’t try to add stuff to it, and definitely don’t subtract anything.

3x10 is as good as anything else. Better is 8-12, shoot for 8, put the weight up on 12. For a beginner, it doesn’t matter much, better to do something than nothing. Absolutely diet is the key to weight loss but strength training is the key to keeping it off.

Depending on what machine(s) you have available, try to get a total number of sets at about 20-25. Organize them as follows:

Start with 5 min cardio, then 5-10 min bodyweight circuit (Squats, pushups, body rows, situps, back extentions, 5-10 reps each, 2-3 circuits)

Triset 1 : Leg Press, Chest Press, Back Row (move immediately from one exercise to the next and repeat as soon as you catch your breath). After 2 weeks increase this to 3 sets. This is your main effort set. You should be sweating after your warmup and you should be dripping after this.

Superset 1 Alternate (Pull ups, dips) with (Overhead press, Upright Row)
Superset 2 (Leg ext, leg curls)
Superset 3 (Bicep curls, tricep ext)
Superset 4 Sit ups and back extensions.

Finish with 10 minutes of stretching.

Try to keep rest periods as short as possible. This in effect, makes the strength routine a cardio workout by keeping your heartbeat up throughout.


I agree, women should work like men. Seriously, if her diet is down pat, just work with one of the hypertrophy or hypertrophy-fat-loss programs - she will not get ‘buff’ like a man. I tell you why? She, like millions of other average people simply do not eat enough protein to put on muscle mass.

Her muscles will probably try, but it just wont happen. Just make sure she doesn’t start eating ‘nothing’ because she will only make loosing fat harder on herself. Read some of the articles here in the “Are you a Beginner?” sticky on food, eating clean, and simply eat only half the protein you are told to.

Edit: correct me if I am wrong about cutting the protein? I have read contradictory articles - Protein is important for fat loss because of the need to build tissue so as the metabolic rate increases? I presumed that even though high protein would be the fastest way to fat loss, the “female friend” will want to be petite, and will be discouraged by the multitude of opinions.

Honestly… short of a miracle, your attempt at helping her is hopeless. There’s a very low chance that she’ll change what she’s doing REGARDLESS of what you tell her to do.

That said, if she DOES decide to change… the other guys hit the nail on the head. Nutrition comes first. Pick a diet from one of the index stickies at the top of the forum and do it.

As for training, I pretty much agree with Bezale1. Simple is the way to go. Bench, Row, And squat or deadlift (or both), and you’ve got a great program. The rep-ranges aren’t important so long as the weight is challenging.

But what you really want is a way to motivate her to lift because you know better. Try this.

The best defense against the ‘I don’t want to get BIG!’ line is to show her some pictures to the immediate right. Ally Bookless and Jamie Eason are sexy. And they lift.

Good luck.

i think your friend needs to come onto these forums, read articles and ask questions for herself.

things will not stick if she ‘gets told how to lose weight’ - she needs to instead chase the information herself.

the first thing i would say to a new dieter i know is to come to this sites or sites like them and read for an hour a day. after a couple of weeks knowledge alone would remove alot of the stupid mistakes - with almost no effort on her part.

example :number 1 piece of advise - dont drink anything with calories…the number of people who diet all day long and wonder why they dont lose weight…its because they drink 2 litres of coke a day.

these little nuggets will help her change her behaviour…which is hugely beneficial. worrying about workout plans is secondary to getting her habits right.

Thanks guys so much! Alas, you guys are right. We joined gym together, me to get more fit (female, 5’4’’ 120, but barely no muscle) and her(female, 5’ 8’’ 220) to lose some weight. There’s this misconception that weight training is only for men(I don’t mind training like a man :smiley: ), cardio makes fat loss faster and blahblahblah.

I just wanted to come up with a program for her (and me) so that I can get her to at least do a combination of weight training and cardio, not just cardio alone. Even if she’s not willing, at least it doesn’t hurt for me to try to convince her, right?? And if she happens to be interested in weight training or diet, I want to be there to give her answers.

I’m not really sure how her diet is but she told me she was trying, got rid of soda and McDs. I eat pretty clean, just need to get more protein and less carb, and my best friend is H2O. I know you guys are emphasizing diet and nutrition, which I have to agree that it’s such a huge part. BUT!! assuming that we do eat clean, I just wanted to come up with a decent program for her and me. But mainly her.

I’ve been reading and reading articles. But so much information and most of them not for big newbs like me. And just so much information bombarding me, that I’m pretty much confused all the time. As of rep range, although I’m not advanced or anything, knowing rep range helps me to choose how much weight I can handle for certain rep range. I can lift heavier weight for 2~3 rep range than I can do for say 13~15 range. So it seems like ~10 is the best range…? I’ll get isolated exercises out, as I’m more interested in compound ones anyway. Thanks guys!!

-Black Iris

have your “friend” read throught the Physique Clinic. There are a couple of large guys who are trying to shed some extra poundage. Eating plans and lifting programs are included. Good luck to your “friend” in achieving “her” goals

[quote]Razorslim wrote:
“friend” “friend” “her” [/quote]

lol thats kinda how I felt

lol, but didn’t I state both her stat and my stat?? If it makes you feel better, I can be the 5’8" 200lb one… >_>;; or which ever one. Not like I can prove it. But as I was writing the post, I felt that way too :stuck_out_tongue: