Weight Training for Women to Sculpt Your Body
Weight training if the truth be told, and you really want to sculpt your body, is really the only way to get the results you need.
The great thing about weight training and muscle mass is that you can tweak individual muscle groups and change the shape of your body, the way you like it.
If you want to, you can work on your Gluteus (The butt as it is commonly known as!) while keeping the rest of your body pretty much the same. If you want to work on your abdominals without changing how your shoulders look; that can be done as well.
It’s similar to working on a specific part of the painting while not touching the rest of the canvas.
This can only be done through weight training and this is one cosmetic, or pure vanity reason why weight training is advantageous over other forms of exercise.
"Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy, which explains why, as Einstein himself so eloquently put it in a famous 1939 speech to the Physics Department at Princeton, 'You have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.'"
Where do you start with weight training
Moving you onto hardcore strength training, but just a few notes of caution here though.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to focus on building overall body strength, before shifting any focus onto sculpting individual muscles.
Advanced lifters and body builders will focus on fine tuning specific muscles through isolation movements, but they already have a well developed foundation, which they will continue to maintain, by continuing with their compound lifts, while adding additional isolation moves into their program.
If you maintain your focus on the big compound moves I would recommend to you, you will develop your muscular physique far quicker.
These gains will then allow you to progress onto specific fine tuning once your body has developed to a stage where you will be able to recognize the areas which can benefit from more specific focus, incorporating isolation exercises.
Compound V isolation exercises
Compound exercises use your entire body (or multiple parts of your body). They span over multiple muscle groups and joints that work together in the given exercise.
You will maximize the gains achieved from weight training, as the multiple major muscle groups engaged in compound exercises can move more weight, thereby having a greater impact on the body.
The amount of stress / impact your body goes through during training, triggers a corresponding recovery process, where the magic happens. Your body adapts and improves itself to allow it to cope with the additional stresses which it is encountering.
It's therefore only logical that. If you don't put your body under much stress while training, it won't need to adapt and improve, and there wont be much change.
A very good example of a compound movement is the Push-up.
When you’re doing push-ups, you’re immediately targeting your Pectoral region. But your shoulders come into play too, you use your core for stabilization, and your triceps get pumped up as well. This is a classic case of a compound movement exercise.
Good examples include:
- Bench press
- Bent-over rows
- Shoulder press or military press
- Bar dips
- Dead lifts
Isolation exercises are different in this respect. Isolation exercises put all the stress on a particular muscle.
There is no sharing of load with other muscle groups. Isolation exercises mostly work on muscle groups that are smaller in size E.g. Biceps, Triceps, Calves.
We often talk about ‘definition’ when we talk about isolation exercise.
The truth of the matter is that isolation exercise concentrate on smaller muscle groups. Hence, it is true that isolation exercises help to define your body.
Another factor of isolation moves is that you can’t lift as much weight as you do in compound moves.
For example, you can’t lift 120 Kg on a Barbell Bicep curl but 120 Kg seems plausible when you’re lifting it off the floor while performing the dead lift.
Obviously you are not going to be able to continually progress to heavier weights in the same way that you can with compound exercises which are using multiple major muscle groups, and it's therefore important to continue training your compound lifts, for greater progressive overload.
Good examples of isolation exercises include:
- Triceps push down on a pulley
- Barbell preacher curl
- Front shoulder raises
- Leg extension
- Dumbbell flies
- Calf raises
If you're not sure what compound moves to start with, try these five strength training exercises.
By that stage, when you're adding isolation exercises into your program, you will find that you already have people in the gym asking you for training tips, because the body you’re developing tells them that you know what you’re doing.
Spend less time in the gym, but spend it wisely doing effective training, which means feeling some pain while you’re training, and you’ll have more time to rest, relax and do other things in life. And your body will thank you for it, by making better gains.
You will also see many women who shape up certain parts of their body but lack in others.
A common example is toning your arms and shoulders but the love handles never seem to go away.
They may give you meaningless reasons like, “I’ve always had love handles and it is a genetic thing!”
The reality is, they are most likely avoiding, or not doing enough of the hard work that needs to be done.
This is where your personal judgment and knowledge, or the advice of an experienced strength coach comes in handy. You can always reconfigure your workout plan according to the situation.
So, quit giving lame excuses for your failure and say hello to your two new friends; hard work and pain!
Avoid weight training in the mirror
I hope you're aware, about how good the muscles on your back can look, before I mention how good the muscles on your front can look.
There’s method to that. Don’t fall into the habit of only training what you can see in the mirror.
You need to train both the rear chain and the front chain of your body, otherwise, you will almost certainly end up with posture problems through muscle imbalances. This leads to injury, including back and neck pain. You’ll also just end up looking funny.
Remember that other people can see you when you are going as well as when you are coming!
And also, the muscles on your back comprise some big slabs of your lean mass, so work it hard, and you will be rewarded.
Don't waste your time on isolation myths
Don’t think that I am saying that isolating a muscle group will cause you to lose fat on that part of your body first either.
So many “fitness guru” programs that are sold, are marketed in a way that makes you think that you can target fat reduction on a certain part of your body, to melt the fat and see the abs, by some incredible abs magic move, or the like.
There is never, ever, any "magic muscle genie" waiting to transform your body overnight, with little to no effort.
Don't ever waste your time or money on such false promises.
Your body loses fat in a mostly even pattern, with the reality being that the last fat to be lost from your body will be from your stomach, or sometimes for women your legs and butt.
It's a bit cruel, I know. What you'd probably most like to fix first, will be the last thing to achieve satisfactory results. But lets remember, these areas will continually improve, you just won't be satisfied with them too quickly, in most cases.
Train your body with compound moves, remembering that it’s all about how much weight you’ve moved, because that’s what weight training is all about, and you’ll expend the most energy (calories) to lose the most fat.
Think like a professional and do weight training like one
Let’s be clear on one thing; your ‘gender’ doesn’t define how hard you should work out!
The equation is simple, you need to push, you need to exert yourself and you need to feel like you gave all you had to give, after each workout.
If you don’t out-do yourself in each following workout, you won’t be progressing forward in terms of sculpting your body. It's a really important fundamental of proper weight training.
You can read more about this principle, including how to make sure you are achieving progress, in this blog on progressive overload.
‘Women don’t need to go at it with such intensity’; I’ve heard this phrase from fitness trainers to common folks and it is another misconception that plagues the fitness industry.
The truth is that gender doesn’t define the intensity of your training! Go hard or go home!
Work out, or train?
Throughout this blog we talk about “training” not “working out”.
There is an important reason for that too.
While many people commonly refer to “working out at the gym” if you spend time around professional athletes from any sport, you will hear them refer to all the work that they do as, “training”.
So do you think that you will get a better result doing things the way that the majority of people “commonly” do, or by doing things the way that athletes do?
I know which group I’ve always been inspired by.
Even if you don’t aspire to become a professional athlete, by adopting similar approaches to training as they do, you will be using your time more effectively, and producing far better results.
The professional athlete will simply spend more time every day training, because it’s their job, and usually their all consuming passion.
So what do we mean when we say “training”?
We mean consistently setting and monitoring “smart” goals, which are achieved because we ensure that our performance and therefore our results are improved upon, each time we train.
This concept is just so critical, if you want to achieve significant improvement. It doesn’t mean that you will never have a bad session where you don’t manage to achieve what you set out to.
Sometimes even the best athletes have off days, but you need to recognize it as such, work out what was wrong (did I not get enough sleep / rest, was my nutrition not good enough, was I not quite over a cold, did my technique let me down today, etc) and fix it for the next session so that you are training effectively.
When you do weight training like this, you will see continual improvement, and this will continue to motivate you, and you will find that it also inspires others around you.
If you would like some inspiration for challenging weight training workouts take a look at these 20 killer leg workouts.
Fuel your body well
If you are training properly, you need to ensure that you are also eating properly. You need to fuel the body properly so it can perform during your training sessions.
It's really a whole other topic to study and perfect, but as a guideline;
- You need to be eating a consistent diet with a proper balance of the three main macro nutrients; Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats.
- Know what your overall caloric intake should be, to achieve your goals, including consideration of energy expended completing your weight training sessions and any other intense activity, along with regular daily calorie burn.
- When you're shopping for food, remember to read the nutrition labels, and wherever possible, buy fresh food; I.e food that's not processed or comes from a tin.
- Remember that everything that you put into your body, will have an affect on it. Good food will have a good affect, and bad / junk food will have a negative affect. It's your choice!
Once you have been "eating clean" for a while, you will really start to feel the positive affect of good nutrition on your body, and will find that you have less and less desire for bad / junk foods.
Good nutrition has a massive positive affect on your body, and even on your mental health. When your body is healthy and operating well, you'll feel better energy which leads to a happier more positive life.
Rest your body well
Make sure that you are getting plenty of rest and recovery as well. Our body repairs itself while we sleep, so it's just common sense that if you aren't getting enough sleep, then your body is not able to recover properly.
Everyone knows that sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture, so don't do it to yourself!
Wrap up our weight training
If for some crazy nonsensical reason, you still don't think that strength training is for you, then read this research article from The American College of Sports Medicine, who tested 35,754 women and found that strength training reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30% and cardiovascular disease by 17%.
I'm sure you'll agree they're good reasons to give it a try.
"I consider my refusal to go to the gym today as resistance training."
So, get fit, inspire others and help others attain the same fitness level. That has been part of my own journey, and I continue to learn from and be inspired by others!
How do you find inspiration to train?
Let me know in the comments below.