Creating Workouts for Women

Creating Workouts for Women

Posted on 20. Jun, 2010 by in Uncategorized

As I read fitness advice on the internet and in magazines, I noticed that a lot of workouts for women are made by men. As we all know, women are physiologically and physically different from men not to mention mentally but that’s a totally different article…lol. So, I decided to write a post about how women should workout and how the workouts can be designed to benefit a woman’s physiology based on my experience on myself and training other women.

squats_woman_gym

First, I’d like to address the fact that you can not target train a specific body part to make it smaller. I know that if you’re an avid reader of my blog, you would know this already but it’s a fact worth mentioning many times. A lot of the women I meet ask me what they can do to lose their belly fat. My answer is to lose weight throughout your whole body. Unfortunately, we can’t choose where the fat comes off. Where you lose weight first will depend on your genetics and body type. If you’re pear-shaped which means you carry your weight mostly on your hips, thighs, and buttocks these areas will be the last to go. The same thing goes for women with an apple-shaped body who carry their weight mostly on their upper body. In other words, your body type will dictate how you will end up looking. This is also the reason a lot of women have different problem areas. Luckily, you can train specific parts to be bigger so you get a more-proportioned, pleasing look.

Training to Get a More Proportioned Look

Instead of giving a workout prescription for each body type, I want to give you some ideas on how to get your body more proportioned so you can create your own workout. The key to getting the more proportioned look is to figure out where you carry your weight the most. For instance, when I was heavier, I carried my weight on my thighs, hips, and buttocks which makes me pear-shaped. When I gained even more weight, the next area it shows up is on my abdominal area. Once I lost the weight, my lower body still looked bigger than my upper body.

There’s a way to look more proportioned. In my case, I fixed my unproportioned look by lifting heavier weights for my upper body. I did chin ups, pull ups, chest presses, deltoid raises, back rows, etc. to gain a bit more mass in those areas. Most of my training for my legs nowadays will only be done with high intensity intervals training on the treadmill or the upright bike or kettlebell swings. Even though I used to lift heavier weights for squats and lunges, I try not to do them anymore as my hips and thighs already look naturally bigger than my upper body.

Women beginners who still have a good amount of weight to lose will do well on a workout program that involves basic, compound lifts like squats, lunges, deadlifts, pushups, planks, rows, military press, etc. The repetition range should be around 8-12 repetitions of 2-3 sets. These type of lifts and repetition scheme will give you a big boost in metabolism without spending too much time in the gym. In terms of cardio, 2-3 times of high intensity interval training a week would be enough. In a nutshell, women in this category should work on losing weight overall first by doing full body workouts.

woman-deadlift

[Photo by CrossfitFire.com]

Women who have less than 15 pounds to lose can be a little bit more specific in their training. This is the point where you can now try to target specific body parts so you can make your “look” more proportioned. For example, an apple-shaped woman who carries her weight on her upper arms, chest, and shoulders, can lift more heavily when it comes to doing her lower body strength training exercises. The key to keep in mind is this: making other areas of your body bigger, will make the bigger areas look smaller. when it comes to cardio, 2-3 times a week of high intensity intervals combined with 30 minutes of very light activity such as walking twice a week will work well for this group.

When I say “bigger,” it means that you will see a bit more mass in those specific areas but it does not mean that you will gain muscle quickly. Gaining muscle is actually difficult for women and most of the time we need to eat a little bit more to gain muscle especially because our hormones do not favor muscle growth as much as men’s hormonal mix does. If you’re still afraid of gaining some sexy muscles, read this article that I wrote about Jessica Biel.

Lastly, while I encourage each and every woman to have a model to look up to for inspiration, I also encourage you to be realistic about your expectations. Because your body shape does dictate your end result, you can not end up looking like Kim Kardashian who most likely has an hour-glass shape if you are pear-shaped. But, you can get really close to a certain look, the closer you get to your ideal weight by applying these tips to get more proportioned.

If you have any questions or comments aboout this post, please feel free to leave them below.

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  • Cool! I always thought women should train like men so never really thought about past that but looks like there is more to it.
    I know the mantra of spot reduction doesn't work but I can't help thinking if legs and butts are the problem heaps of stair work, lunges, hill climbs would be the answer?

  • Lee Lonitz

    Like Raymond, I too agree that trying to isolate an area for losing weight is a losing proposition. If I understand correctly, working out and building muscle will eventually help you lose fat in those 'problem areas' allowing the muscles to show, right? I admire your advocacy of women having “sexy muscles” – not only does it help with weight loss overall but it also spurns stereotypes on which gender looks good with muscles.

  • Thanks for the education. It makes so much since but I don't think most people know this. I always learn something new when I read your blog.

  • AnnaDornier

    Raymond, yes, lunges, squats, and any leg work would work well if you want to make it bigger to look more proportioned to your bigger, upper body.

  • AnnaDornier

    Lee, yes, working out (total body workouts to start with) and building muscle will favor weight loss. First, when we strength train or lift, we burn more calories even after we're done working out. Second, muscle burns more calories than fat even it's not a big difference, it adds up.

  • AnnaDornier

    Hey Lisa, most people do not know this information which is why I started this blog 🙂

  • Drew

    I see this battle with women all the time. They're afraid to lift heavy weight because they think they'll turn into She-Hulk. Women need more complete information, and it's a good thing you're doing, Anna.

    -Drew

  • AnnaDornier

    For sure, I hear those comments all the time. Thanks, Drew!

  • Building up less developed areas to make bigger areas look smaller and improve overall proportion makes sense, unfortunately it's something that is generally overlooked.

    And having a fitness role model is an great idea. I think Jessica Biel is an excellent example of a woman who lifts weights, she looks lean and toned, yet still looks very feminine. That kind of healthy muscle tone and fitness level would look good on any woman, regardless of shape.

  • AnnaDornier

    Totally! I love Jessica Biel. Can you tell? 😀

  • overture23

    Really great article thank you. I just started an HCG weight loss program specifically tailored for woman which involves some weightlifting. I never realized before how important it is not to simply copy how men exercise and that different techniques work better for the female body.

  • AnnaDornier

    You're very welcome!

    Anna

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  • Yes there is a difference in physiology of men’s and women’s body. it is essential to customize a better suitable program according to the body. Now a days i have acquired a weight loss program which also involve some useful exercise so as to gain my realistic expectation.
    Really educational article
    thanks!

  • Great article.  I am always trying to figure out how to get the best workout for my body.  Now that I have had 2 children it seems harder to get back to that strong body I once had.  I really feel I could benefit from a trainer at this point

  • Hi Cara, we can all benefit from a coach/trainer but you can also try doing it on your own. I’d recommend checking out Venus Index. I talk about it here: http://www.pathtofatloss.com/2010/11/21/how-many-calories-should-i-eat-daily/. They have a great online community which can support and motivate you in reaching your fitness goals. It’s also an awesome exercise program for women. Best of luck!

    Anna D.

  • tiger ali

    My FIANCEE is a PEAR shaped female is it really possible that through workouts she can transform herself.. plz reply as soon as possible

  •  Hi Tiger, it definitely is possible.  The more we gain weight, the more the shape becomes more apparent.  So, if she finds a good fat loss workout and nutrition plan that suits her body’s needs and her lifestyle, she should be able to transform herself.  I hope this helps!