Tips and Myths For Women Who Lift, Part 2

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              In Part 1 of this series (Read Here), I discussed some mistakes I see women make with their programs, how much cardio to perform and what’s happening if you’re getting “bulky.”  This time around I want to delve a little deeper into nutrition, talk about how detrimental the scale can be and give a sample full-body workout. I was really pleased to see and hear the response of the last article as it shows that more women are getting into weight training. Hopefully you find this article to be just as helpful.

1.)     Numbers don’t define you – The dreaded scale. This is the tool that most people use to gauge their success when embarking on a new nutrition or exercise regimen. While I could pin this on anyone who is looking to lose/gain weight, my women clients are the ones who dwell on their weight the most. Your scale weight is almost a meaningless number as it is not always tied to your appearance. When you walk around there isn’t a floating number detailing your weight above your head. You are a person, not a number! There is no perfect weight or perfect body. Stop looking at ridiculous photo shopped instagram pictures and stop comparing yourself to others. All you can do is create the best version of yourself.

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If I said you could look great but weigh 10lbs over your current scale weight vs. be unhappy with how you look but be 10lbs less, which would you choose? The point I’m making is that most women believe once they reach a certain “dream weight” they will look exactly how they want. This isn’t always the case. You could not exercise, severely under eat and drop a good deal of weight but you will definitely not look how you want, even though the scale went down. Weight loss can be from water, muscle, fat, etc. The goal should be fat loss. 

Weight-Loss-vs-Fat-Loss1-660x370

In the physique/nutrition world we refer to the term body composition often, which is your proportion of lean mass (muscle) to fat mass (body fat). When you improve this ratio, you look more impressive and your “shape” or appearance will change drastically. However, what if you gained 4lbs of lean muscle and lost 4lbs of body fat, the scale wouldn’t change but you can bet your ass you’d look much different. For women who lift, the scale will not help show what’s happening to your body at a deeper level. You should be gaining some muscle tissue and hopefully decreasing fat at the same time.

This is an example of body recomposition. There is only a 6lb scale difference from week 1 (on the left) to the final week before her show! Each week she drove me to the brink of insanity because the scale wasn’t moving much. It took the photos to really make her see the light.

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Your weight can fluctuate on a daily/hourly/minute basis. Trying to monitor this every day or multiple times a day will absolutely drive you insane. Not to mention, changes in stress, sodium/water intake, carbohydrate intake, hormonal changes, type of training, and many other factors can play a role in altering your scale weight. Ok, then how do you track progress and why do you have your clients email you their weight weekly, Fred? I thought you’d never ask.

Weight is ONE thing that I look at with a client’s weekly progress. It is also the bit of information I put the least amount of stock in. What tells me the most are the weekly pictures and how training/energy levels were for the week. If their strength is improving, energy is great and the pictures show improvements, I don’t give a shit what the scale says. If you are getting stronger and following a sensible nutrition plan, results will follow. Results being how you LOOK and FEEL, not how much the scale says you weigh. It likely won’t be as fast as you want but tough luck, that’s life.

My advice: Use pictures, measurements, body fat testing, how your training is progressing and how clothes fit to figure out what’s working. If you do use the scale, I recommend weighing once per week, generally on the same day, in the morning and on an empty stomach. Just understand that weight loss isn’t linear, your weight WILL fluctuate and it won’t always be in your favor.

 

2.)    Does your diet suck? My guess is…yes.  Unfortunately, there isn’t one perfect diet that fits all shapes, genders and body types. The one point I make over and over again is that the best diet will be the one that is sustainable and custom fit to you, your goals and your individual metabolism. Since this article is for women who lift, the nutrition advice will be a bit different than it would be for someone who doesn’t do the same type of training.

Healthy-Diet

If you have been lifting for a while I will assume you understand the value of proper protein intake for recovery/performance, satiety and weight loss. Aside from its ability to keep you full, more protein = more protein synthesis = more muscle = increases in metabolism = you being happy. I advise all clients to have a protein source with each meal. The word “source” is important here. This doesn’t mean having peanut butter with a meal and counting its measly 6-7g of protein. Aim for at least 15-20g of quality protein in each meal. If getting adequate protein is hard for you I suggest getting a whey protein powder to help supplement.

How much protein do you need? I wish I could give you an exact number but I can’t. I know this isn’t what you want to hear but it depends. It depends on how much muscle you have, what your goal is, your current metabolic state, nutrition/training experience and many other factors.  If you lift intensely and have a clue about your nutrition you’d likely want to set your protein around .6-.8g per lb of body weight. If you’re a strength athlete, specifically want to gain muscle or feel better on a lower carbohydrate diet, you may want to bump protein a little higher (closer to 1g/lb of bodyweight).

Simple Diet Tips:

–          Skip morning carbohydrates and change your breakfast to a higher protein/higher fat option or fast (Read Why Here).

–          Understand that carbohydrates should be used mainly to fuel intense activity and your activity level of the day should determine your daily carbohydrate intake.

–          Increase vegetable/fiber intake.

–          Make sure you are having enough nutrients in the peri-workout window to ensure you have a productive lift and recover well.

–          Don’t be so restrictive that you constantly crave foods and end up binging.

–          If nothing is happening after 2-3 weeks, it’s time to monitor calories for a week or two and see where you’re at.

 

3.)     In the first article I talked about why I like incorporating some full body lifting days into your program, especially if you can only make the gym 1-3 times per week. Here’s a quick workout that you can likely do in 30-40 minutes that works your entire body. Lift heavy and challenge yourself!

You will start with your “strength” work first and then finish with some metabolic circuits/complexes.

These are the first 3 exercises and it will go like this:
Perform your first set of chest press, rest 60-90 seconds, perform your first set of squats, rest 60-90 seconds and then perform your first set of inverted rows. You will go through it 4 times.

A1.) Incline Chest Press – 4 x 8

A2.) Barbell Squat – 4 x 8

A3.) Inverted Rows – 4 x 8

These next two “circuits/complexes” will have shorter rest intervals. After completing all 3 your rest will be 60-90 seconds. Go through these each 2-3 times.

Circuit 1

B1.) Kettlebell swing x 30 seconds

15 second rest

B2.) Dumbbell Thruster x 30 seconds

15 second rest

B3.) Prowler push (run down, walk back)

Circuit 2

C1.) Tricep Rope Pushdowns x 10-12

15 second rest

C2.) Medball slams x 30 seconds

15 second rest

C3.) Hammer curls x 10-12

Abs Superset

Plank x 30 seconds

Side plank x 15 seconds each side

That’s all for today. Now take your new information and go kick some ass and lift heavy weights. If you enjoyed this article and found it useful please share it at the bottom!

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