How many times have these words been said usually from female clients, “I just want to tone, not be bulky”. Then they tell us about how they found this great home routine where they just use a can of soda to perform 100 reps to achieve this “toned” look. Let’s look past the fact you have a can of soda and get to the issue of what does toned even mean?
Often when you dig a little deeper with your clients most of them will tell you what they mean is, that they want to have a little more muscle but with more definition and not bulk. OK, how do we achieve this? The only way to get their toned look is to add some lean muscle mass while losing fat mass. The problem that can arise is that women can get scared that if they pick up weights they will turn into the female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The problem with this theory is that unless they are also consuming a large amount of anabolic steroids, this simply cannot happen. Women need to be encouraged and coached to use a heavy weight load, due to the fact that most women will underestimate their strength. Using heavier weight can also result in women to have an increased in self-confidence, which is a happy effect of training. We can never under estimate the ability of strength training increases going side by side with emotional and mental strength.
It is important to remember that no one ever became a body builder by accident! It take months and years of training with a strict nutritional plan. Whenever a female client talks about a celebrity they want to look like, rest assured that celebrity got there by lifting weights under a challenging strength routine. It is important for clients to understand that muscle bulk is largely dependent on testosterone. Compared to men, women just cannot create as much testosterone, so it comes down to a hormonal issue. Men create about 20 times more than women do. Even under a “hardcore” strength routine, women gain muscle mass much more slowly than men do. When women do gain bulk it is not a bad thing, muscle mass can help with injury prevention, reduce the risk of falls and increase bone strength which will lead to a reduction of fractures. Weightlifting also has been shown to decrease the likelihood of type 2 diabetes and have positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
What I am trying to say is do not be afraid to lift heavier. Of course, we always need to ease our way into any program, but increasing weight should be your goal, and the fear of lifting too much should not enter your mind. If your goal is between 6-10 reps, you want each rep to be challenging not just the last rep. Strength training does not have to be confusing, just pick up something heavy and lift it. Do not be afraid of strength or size – just go all out! Above all, remember Don’t Worry, Lift happy!