We have all heard the reasons why women don’t want to lift weights and it’s a long list of “I don’t.”
“I don’t want to get big, I don’t want to get bulky, and I don’t want to look like a man.”
The list goes on and on.

Most women believe the fastest way to their goals is cardio and steering clear of heavier weights. Info commercials try and sell body wraps, claiming that they somehow shrink stomachs by releasing toxins (still trying to figure that one out). Seeking out trainers who are experts in “muscle toning” (not a real thing). I am not quite sure what qualifies these trainers to be experts on the two, but today we will go over reasons why I believe women who want to gain muscle and lose fat, should be “lifting like men.” (aka, not to be scared to go heavy)

Genetics: Do you have the genetics to get huge and bulky? Look, I would love to have Cristiano Ronaldo’s legs, The Rock’s arms, and David Beckham’s hair, but it is just not going to happen. Genetics play a huge role in how our body will shape and form with working out. Is this an excuse to not train, and let whatever happens to happen? No! Continue to work hard, but if you tend to steer clear of the weights because you think you are going to look like the ladies of WWE, please get those thoughts out of your head. If getting big and bulky were as easy as lifting a few dumbbells, I am pretty sure every guy in the world would be yoked.

Testosterone: Piggybacking off of the last point, testosterone is something else that is needed to build muscle. Women have 1/10 of the testosterone that men have, I would not worry about this one as much. The less testosterone the harder it is to build muscle. This is why  older men find it harder to build and maintain muscle mass.

More Muscle: Wait, that is a good thing? Yes, and why wouldn’t it be? Give me one good reason why you wouldn’t want to be stronger. We already know you aren’t going to get huge, and if you start to put on more mass than you would like, then guess what, change your routine. The more muscle we have the faster our metabolism will be, and the more we can eat. If you don’t like getting stronger and eating more, I will be honest, this probably isn’t going to work out, and maybe we should just be friends.

Stop Running So Much: Look, I am not here to be one of those guys and tell you that running/jogging is the dumbest thing ever. It certainly has its advantages, and can be very good for you. But is running getting you exactly where you want to be? If it is, then do what you do and I’ll shut up. But if it’s not, and you’re having pain somewhere in your body such as your knees, feet, lower back, maybe we should think about doing something else. The mechanics of running are great, but let’s be honest, when most of us “run” we are actually jogging very slow, and our bodies are moving in poor patterns, all while the feet and knees are taking a beating. Maybe instead of running four days a week, we should mix in some kettlebell work. This will allow us to build strength, work metabolically(cardio), work on our back sides (butt), and allow our joints to take a break.

Central Nervous System (CNS): When we begin training, our CNS is the first thing that gets trained, usually taking about 4 to 6 weeks. Not often talked about, it is a very important aspect of anyone’s training regimen. A lot of the times when we see people bent over shaking, and dead to the world, this could be because their CNS is taxed, and it’s getting over worked. It may also be because the person hasn’t eaten in 37 hours. Yes, I have had clients do such horrific things. Men usually have a harder time recovering their CNS, not because they are inept, but because they tend to lift heavier. The heavier you lift, the more the CNS will be taxed. With women lifting lighter than men, this allows them to recover faster, as their CNS is not getting as fatigued. So ladies when your husband wants to work out three days a week, just remember, you can go 5 days!

Stop Doing Group Stretching: Yoga is great, I love what it does for the mind and relaxation, and if that’s why you are doing it I am not telling you to stop. The majority of the women I have worked with do not have flexibility or mobility issues. While I love both flexibility and mobility, if it is a strength with you, then stop hammering it down. There are other things to work on in the gym. If you are someone who can do every yoga pose with your eyes closed while drinking a glass of wine, maybe strength and stability should become a staple of your program. Don’t worry, I tell guys the same thing. If I see a guy with 50 inch biceps, and he is still wearing a pair of pants from GAP kids, I will mention to him it might be time to work on those legs.

Train the Glutes! As Bret Contreras often mentions, many women have a hard time activating their glutes in exercises such as squats, simply do to the “Q” angle of their hips. So if we want a nice butt, then train that way. Make hip thrust a staple of your workout. Don’t be afraid to hammer them out 2 to 3 times a week, and don’t be afraid to add some weight to them. Research has shown that there is more upper and lower gluteal activation during hip thrust then squats, so if you want a nice butt (and who doesn’t), train with the hip thrust, and get good at them!! You can thank me later.

Summary:
Genetics: Remember we are all not going to like the Rock, Ronaldo, and Beckham
Testosterone: Women have 1/10 of what men have
More Muscle: Better life, we can eat more and be stronger
Run less, lift more: Don’t have to stop running, but just focus more on lifting
CNS: Women do not usually tax theirs as much
Stop Group Stretching: If you are flexible and mobile focus on something else
Train the glutes: Train the butt to get a better butt, squats not always best option

– Brett Cummins, CSCS, USAW
Fitness and Nutrition is our Prescription