There seems to be a lot of myth and confusion surrounding the topic of muscle when it comes to women. I’d like to take a minute to clear that up.
The number one reason I hear from women, pertaining to why they don’t lift weights, is because they are afraid of getting “too big.” Every time I hear this reasoning I internally cringe and am personally insulted. I have been trying my hardest to gain muscle mass for the past seven years. Seven years ago I weighed about 135 lbs. I now weigh about 158 lbs. It took me seven years to add 30 lbs to my frame. That’s an average of 3.5-4 lbs of mass addition per year. At any point, during the last seven years, I could have looked in the mirror and decided, “I like the level of muscle mass development I have achieved, I think I’ll stop trying to add more mass.” At no point have I made that decision. Therefore, I continue to put on muscle mass, a little bit at a time. So when women say that they are afraid they will get “too big,” I think to myself, “Don’t you worry about that. You will NEVER get ‘too big,’ you have to REALLY try to get ‘too big,’ it doesn’t just happen overnight.” You’re not going to do a few powerlifting workouts, or even a year of powerlifting workouts and magically look like a body builder.
Female body builders do everything in their power to look the way they do. You are insulting them by casually mentioning you’re afraid you might accidently start looking like they do. Do you think they accidently started looking like a bodybuilder? The answer is, no. They train specifically for hypertrophy (increase in muscle size), they diet in an extremely strict fashion, and water manipulate so when they walk on stage they are completely dehydrated, and they supplement. If you do not do all of those things over an extended period of time, there is no way you will look like a bodybuilder.
Ladies, if you start weight lifting, whether it’s Olympic lifting, powerlifting, strongman, or crossfit, this is what will happen: the cottage cheese on your legs will reduce, your ass will lift, your shoulders will become more defined, your lats will start to get wider, making your waist appear smaller, and your stomach will have less jiggle. Those all sound like good things to me!
Now, if you do want to gain muscle mass while simultaneously losing fat, which will just make you look leaner and sexier, I recommend a combination of different training tactics. I would suggest combining powerlifting, crossfit, Olympic lifting, and strongman exercises.
Monday: Squat/ Olympic lifting / crossfit combination – Back Squat: 5 set x 5 reps – 3 – 4 rounds: – Power cleans into front squat: 3 reps – 200 meter run (1 minute break in between) OR 30 meter sled push Tuesday: Rest or 30 min low impact cardio (walk at incline)
Wednesday: Deadlift / abs – Deadlifts: 3 x 5 – Leg press: 3 x 10-15 (heavy) – Stiff leg deadlift or glute-ham raise: 3 x 6-8 – Incline reverse leg raise / plank OR toes to bar
Fri: Bench / Overhead press day – Overhead jerk OR bench press: 3 x 5 – Inline bench or db press: 3 x 6-8 – One arm OR two arm DB strict shoulder press (seated or standing): 3 x 8 – Lateral db raises or upward row or superset both: 3 x 10-12
Sat: Strongman followed by High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) OR crossfit session if no strongman equipment available Example of HIIT: Erg machine 400 meter sprint, 3 min rest 300 meter sprint, 2 min rest 200 meter sprint, 1 min rest 100 meter sprint, 30 second rest
Sun: Rest or 20-25 min very low impact cardio (walk the dog)
The above program is just one basic example that would be great for a beginner or intermediate lifter who wants to put on mass and get leaner, which seems to be the main goal for most women. There are endless variations. This one is relatively simple. Sometimes simple is better.
So please ladies, do me a personal favor and get rid of that ridiculous notion that you will become “too big.” It’s not a real thing, at least for 99% of women. Do be aware of your caloric input. I recommend smaller meals, 5-6 throughout the day, slightly increase protein while decreasing sugar. About 2,000-2,200 kcal is usually good for an active lady around 135-160 lbs. Don’t make any drastic changes to your diet, and instead make small, sustainable changes. Lastly, put in the work at the gym or box! You’ll be happy with the results.