When it comes to female specific training, there are more myths and misconceptions than in any other aspect of the health and fitness industries.
But it’s about time we break down the mental and physical barriers leaving women victim of the female fitness industry complex.
We are absolutely swimming upstream against fitness media moguls that have used scare tactics for far too long.
Those who prey on the insecurities of women and hold them back from becoming empowered by their physicality.
But you know what? It’s about time we make a change.
Here are three powerful mindset changes women (and men in all reality) need to make to finally achieve the body they aspire to build and allow them to break free of the constraints of mainstream society.
1. You Must Emphasize Strength Training
Want to lose fat, get strong, and stay healthy? The secret training method everyone is seeking is really no secret at all. Looking great and feeling even better happens with the prioritization of developing base levels of strength in big, compound loaded movements, plain and simple.
Related: 6 Female Fitness Myths That Are Preventing You From Being Fit
The fact that the first section of a female specific training article needs to address this idea is a sad reality of the current state of the mainstream female fitness industry and media.
Instead of debunking the myth of weightlifting resulting in a bulkier body with repeated and regurgitated science on the female hormonal profile, lets get right down to the actionable facts. Training, dare I say, “like a man” not only works for men to achieve the holy grail of body recomposition (that is trading fat for muscle over a long period of time), but also works for women as well.
It goes against everything you think you know about fat-loss. The fact is training for muscle and developing strength as both short and long term goals actually yields better results in fat loss as opposed to the status quo fat-loss programming methods that have you slaving away on the treadmill every day and sweating it out in hot yoga.
Want to take your training from timid and stale to empowering and exciting? Prioritize training the big foundational movements: The squat, deadlift, lunge, press, pull, and carry for performance enhancement. Ensure that you are training for strength and muscle at least three times per week, and focusing on mastering your movement.
Yes, it’s that simple. And I guarantee that “getting huge” is not in the cards for you using these basic recommendations. Stick with the plan, and enjoy transforming yourself into a leaner, more powerful version of yourself. Oh yeah, and did I mention this exact method also works for men?!
2. Overdoing Cardio is hindering your fitness efforts
Laying slave to the cardio deck is not only as mentally arduous as it gets from a training perspective, but is most likely pigeonholing your health, fitness, and fat-loss goals in the process.
Remember that little thing about prioritizing strength to build functional muscle from the section above? Well, many people simply head in the polar opposite direction and force feed endless amounts of moderate intensity steady state cardio every day of the week in hopes for burning enough calories to enhance a particular physique goal or fat-loss metric.
But here’s the cold, hard truth… Building a cardio “base” without a foundation of requisite strength is the quickest way to endocrine problems, metabolic system dysfunction, chronic overuse injuries, and of course the dreaded development of the “skinny-fat” physique we all try to avoid like the plague.
Hopping on the elliptical and mindlessly gliding along for two hours a day while catching up on The Real Housewives of Orange County is of course inherently easier than placing focus and dedication into building a movement library and lifting heavy weights.
But the self-justification of “at least I’m in the gym doing something” wears off quickly, and leaves you bored, tired, and usually hurt.
The problem isn’t cardio in itself, but rather the overdoing of a sound physical practice. If you find yourself naturally gravitating towards the treadmill 5+ days a week and deprioritizing methods of physical fitness that actually build foundations of strength, fat-loss, and functionality for today along with the future, here’s the deal:
You can still knock out your cardio and get your sweat on, but make sure to balance the synergy between foundational resistance training, conditioning, AND cardio.
A well-rounded program will incorporate cardiovascular activities at the steady state level 1-2 times a week. Yeah, you read that correctly. So keeping it to that frequency, make it a goal to sprinkle in some harder joint-friendly conditioning sessions and of course, the weights.
3. You Must Fuel Your Body For Fat Loss
The saying “you can’t out train a bad diet” is somewhat deceiving in the chronically misled female fitness population due to the fact that a “bad” diet is relative. For the vast majority of Americans, eating less and exercising more is absolutely warranted.
But this mindset is a slippery slope, especially for women who have particular physique goals established from photo-shopped runway models in bikinis in every major female fitness publication on news stands across the country.
Related: 8 Ways Women's Magazines Got Fitness All Wrong
While the average bad diet is eating too much garbage, the fit population can be quite polarizing in the fact that many women and men alike strategically under eat to “lose fat” and enhance the lean look they are trying to achieve.
Eating less doesn’t automatically equate to fat loss, no matter what the scare tactics in mainstream media may tell you. You know what fuels fat loss, especially in women with specific needs in terms of nutritional balance and its effects on hormonal response among other areas of physiological function?
Developing sound nutritional strategies that prioritize the maintenance of health and the development of muscle.
What does that mean? If you want to lose fat and keep it off, you must fuel your body for performance and health. This concept seems too simple to be effective, and honestly this well rounded approach to improve performance and function isn’t sexy enough to excite people into buying in.
But the quicker you figure out the measure of “success” isn’t taken after a 30-day cleanse, or a 6-month transformation, but rather a habitual and lifestyle change that is long term and sustainable, the more your “buy in” will be to methods like fueling (eating) like an athlete.
Experiment with food choices, meal timing, and supplementation, but non-negotiable aspects of sound fueling revolves around using food as energy to fuel your training and expedite the recovery after your training.
That mindset is a powerful one.