Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Strong women strength train

I continuously hear how women wont lift at the gym because of the overbearing amount of testosterone coming from that area. Keeping the ladies from feeling comfortable in the place that is so vital to their success, health, and well being. What's the result? The majority of girls churning away on faulty training tools like ellipticals and treadmills, and joining spinning and aerobics classes right and left. Is it really that fun to step on a box and turn around repeatedly, I really doubt it. And I know people say they love to spin, but really? Really? You're not going anywhere. I guess I just don't get it.

I feel bad though. Terrible in fact, that women don't feel as though they should be lifting beside a bunch of men. Women need strength training just as much as men. This comes from a health and physique standpoint as well. This is a message to all women out there, I'm just gonna come out and say it. Strong girls are incredibly attractive and so is lean mass. Ask any guy you know, and I bet each one of them would jump at a chance to take a fitness competitor out on a date. and fitness competitors lift, and lift hard.
I guarantee you Jennifer Stano lifts weights, and good luck finding a guy that doesn't find her attractive.

I hear excuses like, "I don't want to bulk up so I stick with the elliptical." Yeah......Because gaining muscle is so easy (especially for women). Even for most men gaining muscle is difficult, and men's bodies are set up completely different and much more suitable for gaining lean mass. Most women are literally unable to gain large amounts of "bulk", but they do have an incredible ability to build a very nice foundation of strong, attractive, calorie burning lean mass.

In fact most women would benefit from this exponentially. Not only would they be that much more empowered and confident with the strength they've gained but in the long term their bodies will be much healthier. Increasing bone density and metabolism. Along with slowing down the aging process, including decreased skin wrinkles and more balance and strength retained over time. Nice! but I tend to find that most of the time people are more concerned with the here and now, and the here and now is what you see in the mirror and are capable of doing. So, do you look great in a backless dress and can you climb a rock wall or do squats with your best guy friend on your back? Good questions I think, and I know some women that it's true for cause they put in the work.

Here's a video of Donna performing a variation of a farmers walk working on core stability through the hips, trunk and abdomen. The walk creates and instability affect up the chain, the bells offset and pull the body in differing directions forcing the core musculature to contract in a way that will support itself and stay rigid, while also maintaining the change in breathing pattern that will occur.

Don't they look great?

In the background you can also see Janet performing swings, a more dynamic exercise working the core in a different fashion. During the swing the glutes (butt) and hamstrings need to kick on more to produce the force in order to create movement but she's performing them with one arm so the trunk muscles are having to work extra hard on stabilizing at the same time. It's also an extremely heart pumping exercises.

Here's another example of a great exercise being performed by two very in shape women, that have been taking my class 3 days/week for some time now. They really get after it and it shows.
This is a great exercise for the core. Holding the bell on one side forces the trunk to stay rigid and the elevation of the box allows you to lower the hips more than a conventional reverse lunge and use the glutes more. Great for athletes and anyone else that's trying to get their bodies into better shape.

Someday, I'm gonna walk in the gym and see a bunch of ladies doing deadlifts, squats, pushups, pullups and other functional strength training lifts and I'm going to ask one of them out on a date. Just kidding, but that is going to be a great day.


  1. Most women are literally unable to gain large amounts of "bulk", but they do have an incredible ability to build a very nice foundation of strong, attractive, calorie burning lean mass.

    You can't gain bulk, but you can gain lean mass? What do you think women mean when they say 'bulk'?

    Women aren't afraid to get bulky like female bodybuilder, they're afraid to get bulky like Jessica Biel. The majority of women out there think visible lean mass is unattractive.


    I agree with everything you say, but stop misunderstanding what women say when they mean "afraid to bulk", and stop telling them they have nothing to worry about because they'll never look like arnold.

    If you want to get more women into strength training, why not take their fears seriously?

  2. Jessica Biel is bulky? If you think that, then there is no help for you

    FACT: 100.00% of men think Jessica Biel is smoking hot.

  3. Hate to break it to you, friend, but Ms. Stano *definitely* doesn't look like she lifts heavy, let alone at all. Why not put up a picture of a sexy lady athlete to better make your point, like Gabrielle Reece or Gina Carano? And you wonder why the wimminfolks don't want to "bulk up"...

    Otherwise, love the post :p

  4. LOLfitness:

    While there might be a few females you know of who don't concur with what Adam wrote here, the majority of them do think this way.

    I've asked 20-30 women why they don't "train" (aka lift heavy weights) and the majority said something along the lines of that they didn't want to get "too big".

    I wouldn't say they are "afraid" but they don't want it.

    And Jessica Biel is far from bulky. Unless everyone you know is as skinny as Kate Moss.

  5. I completely agree with what leigh wrote and it was exactly what I was inferring in the post.

    I do think it's kinda funny that you all are running with the Jessica Biel thing though. I think Jessica looks incredibly attractive. And I really doubt many women actually think they're going to get "Arnold"esque. But I'm pretty sure I could sit down and watch Blade III and most women are going to compliment her more than once on her figure.

    I probably was a bit general, I apologize. And I do feel as though I have as good an understanding as I can as to where women are coming from.

    But no matter what I feel that the more women strength train the better we're doing our jobs, cause changing this bullshit stigma that women can't do things really pisses me off.

  6. By the way, Rubylicious or whatever you're name is. You need to go back and reread cause that's the point.

  7. Another point is that Jessica Biel herself has seen herself as "too bulky" whatever her definition is. She has changed personal trainers because of it, same with Jennifer Garner. Whether its lean mass, bulk, less body fat, some girls don't want to look very muscular. I am sure you have seen those gross pictures of Madonna arms, she isn't "too bulky" but no woman in her right mind wants to look like that. You just have to learn to talk the woman's language and help her towards her goals, not talk down to her because she "can't get bulky because its hard for guys"

  8. I'm a young strength-training female, and I completely agree with this article.

    Women don't pop out of the womb with cute shoulders, triceps and calves, or, at least I didn't. I'm 5'5" 130 lbs, and after lifting heavy for 7 months now, no one would guess that I spend 6 days/week in multiple gyms across town. My dinky triceps still don't scream "skullcrushers," even though I train them 3 times a week @ 6-10 rep range. And I work hard to eat perfectly with plenty of animal/plant protein. so yeah, I totally agree with the author. Women can definitely benefit from strength training without fearing that they'll look like a dude.

    and Rugbylicious, I'm willing to bet my life savings that Jennifer Stanos strength trains regularly, as well as other slender but sexy celebrities like Jessica Alba and Megan Fox. Any suggestion of curves in the arms, shoulders, back, abs, and legs clearly indicates to me that they've been actively training those muscles to either increase or maintain that size. Jessica Biel has an amazing athletic and sexy figure -- she just has more muscle and a much lower body fat % than the other 2 girls. Whether or not someone thinks she's "bulky" is a personal preference.

    I think re-educating women is now word-of-mouth, because TV isn't helping and gyms aren't either, since they're always marketing their aerobics classes. So I do my girlfriends a favor and I drag them with me to the weight room. They usually fall in love after a few workouts and after a few inches lost.

    That said, thanks for writing this. and by the way, I found your blog while I was Googling "Jessica Biel Strength Train" because I wanted more insight about her. She looks like a damn goddess to me.


  9. I'm a female personal trainer that considered figure competing for some time. I find it so hard being strong as a female, and particularly as a dancer. Not because I feel unattractive to maels but because I know that women see my body as undesirable. I've had women come to me that didnt want o run on the treadmill cos they thought they'd get bulky calves. Those of you looking for an industry to study in to make big money in the future? Try Osteo, there's gonna be a lot of brittle old ladies out there in a few years.

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