T Nation

Training Women

My parents recently spent a heap of money building a weight room (free weights). I am trying to help my mom get into shape. She is 50, weighs 135 at 5’7", but isn’t very strong. She wants to lose a lot of fat and firm up. I devised a plan for her but I would like to see what kind of program others would advise.
I am also training my girlfriend, who until 2 weeks ago, has never lifted anything in her life. She wants to look like Ms. Fitness. This would require about a 10 lb gain. Any suggestions for her? I am basically afraid that I might train them wrong because they are girls.

Women are exactly the same as men in regards to training. If you do it, she can do it…maybe with less weight and fewer reps, but specific exercises and movements are exactly the same.

Most people say women are weaker than men, but look at the size difference. If you compare a man & a woman who are the SAME SIZE, there wouldn’t be much of a difference. Then if you look at lean mass, the difference is even less.

Well you probably wish you had never posted this question. I recognize your intentions are good - hey you want to help you mom and your girlfriend get in shape. Great intentions, unfortunately you have not been exposed to female athletes who prove day in day out they “want” success as much as their male counterparts and are willing to work at it. While this might not be appropriate in this situation but women athletes oftern work harder in the gym than there male counterparts because they have something to improve. So with that said and done - if you can give more details maybe I can offer some assistance.

In faith,
Coach Davies

Along the same lines, I’m an avid t-mag reader and I consider myself as qualified as any other joe blo “personal trainer” except without the certification. Just recently I designed a workout program for a girl friend of mine using John Berardi’s diet guidelines and I’m starting her off doing low intensity circuit training excercises to begin the program. Her goal is just to lose weight and get into shape while still maintaining a feminine look. I think I’m going to keep her on the circuit training for about 4 weeks (she does a total body workout 3 times a week 10-15 reps, 2 circuits). I also have her doing low intensity aerobics 3 times a week for 45 minutes and I will eventually incorporate some HIIT as her body adapts.

Ok, so here is my question should the next phase of her program consist of a moderate intensity hypertrophy phase or what?

Jeff H.

Interval Training works wonders for Fat Loss.

I tend to think that once a person has grown accustomed to actually training…you can get rid of the high rep routines and put them on a more “strengh” based program consisting of 5x5 or even hypertrophy based programs. Even if your friend’s goal is to lose weight and still keep her feminine look…she can still attain this goal with lower rep work. In all actuality, she will probably get BETTER results in doing so. Also, I am with Diesel in that HIIT is far superior for fat loss than steady state cardio. Although, most people I train who are used to doing steady state cardio, find it hard to believe that 15 minutes of HIIT will get them the results they want. They are so used to doing endless hours of cardio that they are reluctant to give HIIT a try. Well, they soon realize that all the hype is true! Good luck…Tony

PS…check out “Fun With Women” by CT which deals with how women should train (not that they need to train any differently than a man!!)

I’m sure, however, your girlfriend will need a little more than just “add 10 lbs”…

I agree w/ Coach Davies on this one.
Women do hypotrophy diffrent then men as far as reps are concern a little but not by alot for example:

When a man does 6-8 for strength women should be doing 8-10. ect so forth. I think I am going get flamed for this post. Oh well.

Am I on the right track? Or, I am not making any sense to anyone;).

In Health,

Silas C.

As far as in gym time goes make sure you are giveing them alot of posiive reinforcement!!!

that is the key to any goal.

Take it slow with both- sounds like they are rocking it alredy so not too much is needed but if your intention is to help then you need to understand how difficult it is to walk in to a gym for the first few times and have a bunch of men stair!!!

Ok here we go … I have been on several different diets…

If you want a female to answer this listen up!!!

I started off with Lyle Mic-nut’s keto diet prescribe to me by no other then Udo Erasmus’s young son T’ai = 1 tbl spoon of flax /hour very low carbs I am talkin in ketosis within a day!

I switched to John Michel Mathew’s diet and I did see a weight gain and although Jb would not like to talk about this openly he WILL say women are a totally different topic.

I think the weight gain was because I was not eating at all
just a little fat here and there…thus my body was not ready to being fed well.

JB, although not my favorite person is the best by far to work with for body comp changes. Talking real world changes here!

  • if you have a little extra $ and are serious about making changes to your - or her physique then I think it will be well worth the while to invest in him.

He cares too about his clients and will go beyond the requirement of his “job description”
I look forward to hearing back from you about your loved ones transformation.

fitone: You’re right about the adjustment in reps. There was an article written a few months ago that stated this.

Basically the article said women should train almost exactly like men, with a few minor differences:

"1. Slightly more reps per set: Women do not have the capacity to recruit as
many motor units as men do. As such, they’ll need 1-2 more reps to fully
stimulate their muscles. So when training for strength, a man should use
between 1 and 5 reps while a woman will benefit more from doing 3-6 reps.
When training for muscle gains, men will benefit from doing 5-10 reps while
women should stick to 7-12 reps.

  1. Slightly more sets per exercise: The reason is the same as above. Most
    women will need to perform 1-2 more sets of an exercise to achieve the same
    degree of stimulation as a man, once again because of their lower motor unit

  2. Slightly less intensity: This is not to say that women aren’t as strong
    as men. But since they need a few more reps and a few more sets, the
    relative intensity must be decreased a little to allow for proper

I appologize but I don’t remember the article name. This was pasted from an email I sent a woman I trained with.

ND, that info came from CT’s Fun With Women article. I really like CT and have had great success with his OVT program, but my personal experience with my own training and with training female clients is that that training age has more to do with the choice of rep schemes than gender does. CharDawg has made some comments along this same line in other threads discussing fiber type and program design.

Ryan, you say that both of these women are new to lifting, so for that reason higher reps (8-12 range) would be appropriate for a short while. But as strength improves you can modify their workouts to increase their strength. It is exciting to see women get stronger and there is nothing more motivating to them than to feel strong and more competent than they ever have before.

Think of it as a beginner program instead of a female program, see what I mean? Do the same things you would for a guy who had never lifted in his life and was not strong at all.

Even though your mom needs to loose weight, the focus of her lifting should still be to gain muscle mass, which will burn fat by increasing her metabolism. Adding HIIT, at her level, will boost the fat loss. The real difference between the programs for your mom and your girlfriend is diet. Their workouts might actually be very similar.

I suggest you teach them the same basic lifts we all use, squat, deadlift, pull-up, dip, bench press, row, overhead press. Have them work at their own level, even if that means bodyweight squats, assisted pull-ups and dips, and maybe pushups instead of bench presses for a while.

I’m glad that you want to get them into lifting. You are doing them a great service by helping! IMO, the biggest difference between training a male and a female is that the female needs lots more talk time and encouragement!

Does any of this info help? Do you want anything more specific?


Did anyone notice the date this thread originally posted was 7/2001?

Not unless ryan (who began this thread) pulled this back up for more replies (and he didn’t), did I want to reply.

Just rather curious.

Oh no! HAHAHAHA. I didn’t EVEN notice that Patricia!

Nice catch Patricia. We are getting that a lot lately by the way old threads poping up for no reason. Whats going on here?

“I suggest you teach them the same basic lifts we all use, squat, deadlift, pull-up, dip, bench press, row, overhead press.”

In an ideal world that would be possible. However, when you take into account the sometimes severe weakness in certain muscles, muscle imbalances, overly tight muscles, and other postural misalgnements - along with very weak core strength and poor stabilization strength - that can be often times contraindicated.

For example, when training a 35 yr old guy, who seemed in decent shape with just a few postural imbalances in his shoulder girdle common to most non-lifters, I realized he could not do ONE squat to parallel. He would lower his hips until his legs were at a 125 degree angle and that would be IT. All he had was the 45 lb squat bar on his shoulders. Clealy not a good exercise prescription for him at this point as he does not have the strength to finish one rep with good form, along with possible tightness in certain muscles in the chain due to years of nothing but slouching on the couch like a potato.

What’d I do? I put him on the Hack Squat Machine - NOW he could handle a FULL repetition with good form (albeit still very light weight), without shortchanging himself on progress (1/4 squats can only do so much for you, but full-range Hack Squats on a Machine he can handle will bring about good strength increases throughout the whole range of motion).
As much as I’ve been trying to throw squats at my clients, the sad reality is (and Im sure esperienced trainers out there already knew this) - many, if not most beginners are COMPLETELY unconditioned for squats. For the majority of these beginners handed to me I found that prescribing them exercises appropriate to their level is the way to go if one is to bring about strength increases without the excessive risk of injury.
For some, a simple bentover cable row is pretty darn hard to maintain good strict form on.

All of us can jump on a Squat rack and yank out a number of reps wth perfect form and a good ammount of weight; or jump on the Pull-up station and crank out a good ammount of reps with an inordinate ammount of weight in certain instances. It’s all too easy to prject this to someone who may look in shape but has never worked out and doesnt have the strength needed to make use of these complex lifts. Sad bu true. My recommendation is start the parents on exercises suitable to their begginer level to bring strength levels up to the point where a Squat is appropriate. You dont jump in a car and crank out the pedals in hopes of immediately speeding up to 100mph. You speed up with time, from 0 to 25 to 60 to 85 to 100 mph, and you have to pay attention to the fact that while a Ferrari or Lamborghini may be able to reach 100 mph very fast, a 1985 Audi will take much longer and may only be able to get to 75 mph instead of 100mph.

Of course, this reply is 2 years late, but better late than never, lol.