When it comes to gym work and weight loss most women run to the cardio machines and go hard. They spend their 60-90 minutes flicking between cardio machines and a couple light sets with 2kg weights. Men tend to take a better approach. They tend to go hard in the weights, trying to get strong and build muscle. They also eat more protein and fats from steaks, eggs and fish, whilst women believe fats and carbs are bad and protein is for bodybuilders so they’re left with empty salads. Or if you follow something like slimming world you are left with huge piles of carbs and minimal protein.
You’re putting in the right amount of effort, but just in the wrong places.
Whenever you ladies do tend to venture into the weights area you seriously doubt yourselves when it comes to your strength. Now this doesn’t apply to every single woman, but in my experience 9/10 it does. My clientele is 85-90% women and I’d say at the start of their training 95% of them would doubt their ability to lift anything that looked heavy. The best and most common example I can give is the leg press. Most will put it on 35-50kg when performing a set of 10-15 reps. I will instantly encourage them to go heavier but without hesitation they doubt themselves and tell me they can’t. If they do go to increase the weight it’s always met with hesitation and doubt rather than excitement like “I must be stronger that I thought”. To put leg press into context, the average female in the UK weights 70kg, every time you go up the stairs you are lifting more than you are on the leg press. The biomechanics and tension is different from going up the stairs compared to using the leg press but you get my point, you can go heavier.
Studies have shown that men tend to overestimate how much they can lift by 50% whilst women underestimate it by 50%. From my personal experience I can agree this tends to be true in most cases. I’m not saying follow the guys down to the T because going ridiculously heavy can injure oneself and guys tend to go too heavy that their form sucks. But you’d do yourself a heap of favours attempting and pushing yourself to lift heavier.
You may be thinking but why do I need to lift heavier? Because without a certain level of stress your body will not try to adapt and build muscle. Its like planning a holiday so you can relax and destress. You pay for the holiday, buy all your holiday clothes, book time off work but then turn back home once you reach the airport. Its a waste of time, money, effort and serves no purpose. (First time I’ve struggled to come up with an analogy, I hope it makes sense like it does in my head haha). You need to go all the way to receive the benefits, if you don’t, you will never get anywhere.
If you’ve followed me for some time you should know that cardio alone is poor for fat loss. But if you haven’t heres an example: If you were to go out for a mile run everyday and burned 100 calories you’d soon have to run 2 miles to burn 100 calories, then 3, then 4 and so on. This becomes very time consuming and a poor way to reshape your body. By just performing cardio you will look like a slimmer version of yourself now, you will not reshape your body. You will be known as the term “skinny fat” a skinny person who has no shape or muscle and looks thin but also out of shape. The only way to reshape your body is by picking up some weights and building some muscle. As you get past the age of 30 you lose 5% of muscle every decade, causing you to burn less calories, become weaker, increase chances of osteoporosis and many other illnesses.
Another good indication that you women aren’t lifting heavy enough is 20 seconds after your set you are going again. A guy will take a 2-3 minute break to recover. If you’re ready to go again straight after you finish a set this indicates you are lifting too light. When I perform a set of weights, particularly the big movements like squats, pull ups and deadlifts my heart rate is through the roof and I’m out of breath and often can’t talk. This again is how you should be feeling.
When it comes to weight loss calories in vs calories out dictates your ultimate success but we want fat loss not weight loss. If your diet has a poor supply of protein your going to lose lean body tissue (muscle) over fat. When you lose lean body tissue you burn less calories. Protein supports and aids the growth and repair of your muscles, an ill supply of it can make you sacrifice lean body mass which leads to you burning less calories. This is why you need to increase your protein supply, to help maintain and build as much muscle as you can to burn more fat. You also need to include healthy fats into your diet, they promote joint health, help absorb vital nutrients and they improve nerve, brain and heart function.
So my top tips for you women reading this are:
Believe in yourself, you can lift heavier than you think.
Increase your protein intake, you need your muscle for fat loss.
Don’t be afraid of healthy fats, but remember they are higher in calories.
If after a set your heart rate isn’t up or you aren’t breathless, you need to increase the weight.
Don’t fear becoming bulky or manish, you do not have the genetic makeup for this. It’s hard enough for most guys to get big ( Tip: look around the gym, how many guys actually look very muscular? Only a select few)
I hope this helps you in your fat loss journey and I hope you don’t think this is an attack on you. This is what I have first hand experienced over my years of training women, and it makes the world of difference once these tips are implemented into training.