Article first appeared on Crazy Gurl August 1st 2016
CrazyGurl knows that fitness can be intimidating. Even small, mom-and-pop gyms are usually full of weird-looking machines, equipment you don’t know how to use, and unapproachable sexy people lugging around milk cartons full of pink water. Most of us new to the world of weights will walk into a gym feeling immediately overwhelmed. There’s so much going on it’s difficult to even know where to begin!
So we gravitate to old faithfuls
That’s when the non-scary elliptical calls your name. Your friendly neighborhood cardio machines have never failed you, so you jump on one and start swooshing. And that’s where you stay, silently watching other people go about their awesome-looking workouts.
When you finally muster the courage to try some resistance training, you’ll likely head over to the machines. You’ll choose an open one, read the directions, and then try to copy whatever the model is doing in the pictures. “WTF am I doing?” you may ask yourself as you go through the motions. “Is this even right? I swear those directions don’t make any sense. Good God, I hope no one is watching me!”
I just worked out, why should I ruin it by eating? Maybe I’ll just have some pasta…
After your bout with the machines, you think about making your way to the dumbbell rack, but it’s overrun with huge, muscle-bound guys doing their best to out-bro each other. Besides, what the hell would you even do once you had dumbbells in your hands?
After you leave the gym, you head home and start arguing with yourself about your next meal: I just worked out, why should I ruin it by eating? Maybe I’ll just have some pasta…
And thus you struggle on with your fitness routine, never quite making the progress you hope to make and always wondering what “the secret” could be.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re in dire need of a fitness overhaul! Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place. The “Female Training Bible” offers everything you need to walk into the gym with confidence so you can start building your happiest, strongest, best self.
Training: Weight Training For A Better Body
Many fellow CrazyGurls worry that weight training will somehow transform them into Hulk-ettes, so they spend hours doing cardio in order to maintain their “feminine” figure. The truth is, women just don’t have the hormonal support to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Women’s testosterone levels are a fraction of men’s. That means you can bench press without concerning yourself about how much chest hair you might grow.
There are women, typically professional bodybuilders, who look masculine. It takes many, many years of dedication and a particular lifestyle to achieve this sort of muscularity. Unless you have goals of becoming the next star in female bodybuilding, you don’t ever need to worry about looking too masculine.
You’re right about one thing, though: training with weights will increase your lean muscle mass. That’s a good thing! The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn. The more calories you burn, the leaner you’ll get. Increased muscle mass will also add shape to your arms, take inches from your tummy, and even add some roundness to your booty! When women’s magazines talk about “tone,” they’re really talking about strong muscles.
Reach Your Fitness Goals Efficiently
Another problem women run into is that they just don’t know what they should be lifting or why. We hear and read things like “split,” “leg day,” and “programming,” but have no context for those ideas or how they apply to us.
All those fancy words refer to one thing: the routine you’ll use to achieve your fitness goals. To get the best results from lifting, it’s important to lift with purpose and direction. You can’t wander from machine to machine without first establishing which exercises and which amount of sets and reps will best help you achieve your goals.
If you’re not sure how to reach your goals most efficiently, try one of our awesome trainers. It’s like having a personal trainer, except you don’t have to pay for one. We’ve done all the prep for you—all you have to do is follow along!
Curve Appeal: Your 12-Week Weight Training Program
This program is meant to improve your strength, muscle size, and conditioning simultaneously. Each four-week block will build upon the strength and skill you learn from the previous four weeks.
The general format for every workout is as follows:
Each of your workouts should include a warm-up that will activate your muscles, prepare your central nervous system for the workout, and increase your blood flow to your muscles. It’s also a great idea to do foam rolling before each workout. For leg workouts, roll the quads, hamstrings, IT band, piriformis, and calves. For upper-body workouts, roll the shoulder, chest, triceps, and biceps.
2. Activation Movement for Speed and Mobility
This movement is done for 20 reps. You don’t have to do all 20 reps in one set. Choose a set and rep scheme which will allow you to perform all 20 reps without feeling fatigued.
3. Prime Movement for Muscle Strength
Each workout will include a prime, compound movement. You will perform these compound movements for 5 sets of 5 reps. Be sure to challenge yourself with weight. Prime movements should be heavier than assistance movements. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
4. Assistance Work for Muscle Shape
These exercises will help add shape to your musculature. Perform them for 8-12 reps. There’s no need to go ultra heavy while you perform these movements. Rest on all assistance movements should be as short as possible, but not so short that you must reduce the weight.
5. Conditioning for Cardiovascular Health and Fat Loss
Your cardio will come in a couple different forms. On each day you train with weights, you’ll do 20 minutes of high-intensity intervals. Choose an interval scheme that’s challenging, but not impossible. Thirty seconds of all-out work, followed by 1 minute of recovery is usually a good place to start. One day per week, you’ll do 30-45 minutes of low-intensity cardio. On these days, you can jump on your favorite cardio machine for some extra fat-burning.
Now that y’all have the basic guidelines, lets take a look at an actual program that drives CrazyGurl crazy:
For the first couple weeks, we’ll use relatively lighter loads. We’ll progress to using heavier loads as we move forward, but for now, don’t push yourself beyond where you feel safe. Once you feel comfortable doing the movements and understand how they should feel, then you can start adding a more weight. Take full advantage of our exercise database by clicking on each exercise below for detailed instructions!
Weeks 1-4: Day 1
2. Front Box Jump 1 set, 20 reps
3. One Leg Barbell Squat 5 sets, 5 reps
4. Barbell Hip Thrust 3 sets, 8-12 reps
5. Calf Press 3 sets, 8-12 reps
6. Jogging-Treadmill 1 set, 20 minutes
Weeks 1-4: Day 2
1. Medicine Ball Chest Pass 1 set, 20 reps
2. Pushups 5 sets, 5 reps
3. Dips – Chest Version 3 sets, 8-12 reps
4. Flat Bench Cable Flyes 3 sets, 8-12 reps
5. Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension 3 sets, 8-12 reps
6. Jogging-Treadmill 1 set, 20 minutes
Weeks 1-4: Day 3
Jogging-Treadmill 1 set, 35-40 minutes
Weeks 1-4: Day 4
1. One-Arm Kettlebell Swings 1 set, 20 reps
2. Romanian Deadlift 5 sets, 5 reps
3. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown 3 sets, 8-12 reps
4. Bent Over Barbell Row 3 sets, 8-12 reps
5. Incline Dumbbell Curl 3 sets, 8-12 reps
6. Jogging-Treadmill 1 set, 20 minutes
Weeks 1-4: Day 5, 6 & 7 rest
Must-Haves For Building Your Own Program
If you’re a DIY kind of girl, you might want to build your own program. If that’s the case, do your best to cover the muscle groups our exercises above cover with the exercises you choose. Here are some pointers as to what every weightlifting regimen needs:
- Compound Lifts
- Accessory Lifts
- Choosing Sets and Reps
- Nutrition: Food For A Better Body