We believe that you become great by constant repetition. Our personal training team in London are asked a dozen variations of the same questions each week. We don’t mind! It means we become very good at answering these questions and giving effective answers. On occasion, if we don’t know the answer to a new question, we can research and discuss ‘the best answers’ as a team. Two of the more common questions from our female clients are;
“Will weight training make me bulky?” and “Why don’t we do more aerobic exercise?”
In our industry, these questions are now pretty ‘old hat’ but we still hear them often. The fitness industry is full of misleading information and it’s important that we clarify how we achieve the best results, once and for all (we hope).
Strength Training for Women
Firstly, even the most intense strength training programme is not necessarily going to create a muscular physique. On the contrary, in the hands of an experienced coach, strength training is a superior method of weight loss, aerobic fitness, metabolic function and can even improve sleep patterns. There are far more significant outcomes to lifting weights than simply gaining new muscle tissue.
In our experience, understanding the physiological differences between men and women is critical to producing great results in body composition and key to your success. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Our practice has shown that strength training produces far greater results in fat loss than any other exercise method. For example, our transformation team in London produce consistently significant results in fat loss, from a far smaller population than may attend a typical group exercise class (in the same area of London) each month/year. Is it because our clients are all 100% driven and do every-single thing we ask without fail? No. We produce results because our clients have their programmes (nutrition and exercise) tailored to them individually. We use strength and conditioning methods because they work best and allow a huge degree of individuality from person to person.
Our first-step is to fully understand your long-term goal, assess your current physical condition, then design and adapt your programme. Consider also that not everyone we work with fully defines (or understands) their long-term goal from the outset. It’s often our job to help you realise what is possible and push you if we feel you are capable of more than you realise.
Th exercises that best suit you, your body and your goals may be poison (well, not quite) for another of our clients. Your strength training programme must be specific to your needs and never generic. Generic workout programmes always produce generic results. When applied in the correct fashion the results of a well-designed strength training programme can be truly inspiring!
“Why don’t we do more aerobic exercise?”
We have worked with hundreds of female clients who had become frustrated with their lack of progress after attending aerobics classes as much as 6 times a week! Occasionally, our personal training team has coached group exercise instructors, teaching up to 20-workouts each week, who struggled to lose body fat. Whilst we are not against aerobic exercise (and often advise some aerobic work to our transformation clients), consider that extended periods of aerobic exercise will induce a catabolic state (for simplicity, the breakdown of muscle tissue). As months of aerobic-based exercise starts to build, it becomes more difficult to maintain (let alone build) muscle tissue and give your body the shape and tone to which we all typically aspire.
A caveat is that many people we speak with genuinely love group exercise classes. Great! You don’t necessarily have to stop attending your regular aerobics class and take up power lifting or bodybuilding exclusively. However, if you are serious about your results (and we are always serious about your results) resistance/strength training should take priority over aerobic exercise. This necessary hierarchy is in place for our transformation clients to optimise the rate at which you can change shape and achieve better body composition results.
Combining Strength Training & Aerobics
Resistance/Strength training is of course extremely valuable and yields better results than aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can, if used well, provide a useful fat-burning workout and supplement the hard work you perform in the gym lifting weights. Research has shown clearly that workouts are best kept relatively short (around one-hour) to improve body composition. We also know that polarising fitness qualities (in this case, endurance and strength) are best separated when possible. Therefore, we need a weekly plan.
Consider that you need 3-4 strength training workouts each week to optimise your body’s re-composition (the rate at which you can lose fat and build muscle). In the UK, we spend an average of 9.5 hours each day sitting down and we spend an average of 6.5 hours asleep (disturbing, we know). This means we are not moving for a huge portion of our day and aerobic work can help (a little) to increase our expenditure. Outside 3-4 strength training workouts each week, we suggest aiming to achieve an additional 1-2 hours of aerobic work. This will help increase your day-to-day output and improve recovery from more intense workouts. But, 2 -hours is not enough volume that any negative impact will be shown to undermine the results of your strength training workouts.
As to your chosen method of aerobic exercise, we are open to suggestions! It might be that for you something low-impact might be a wise choice, or a group workout that doesn’t put any load on old injuries. Further, pick a workout that you enjoy and is not too intense. Aerobic work should not be too high-intensity if the goal is purely to oxidise body fat.
Thank you for reading.
To see a similar post, try Starting Strength with Women’s Health Mag