Time for some Fitness On Toast ‘ethos’ … I’ve always believed that there should be very little difference in how men and women train themselves. Women, like most men, hope to achieve the same aesthetic end-point; a lean physique (drop body fat percentage and in so doing, ‘tone’/sculpt the musculature), as well as wanting to build strength, endurance, flexibility etc.
Why is it then, that so often I see women performing simpler, less effective (and perhaps less ‘intimidating’) exercises than men in the gym? Take the deadlift – a phenomenal compound exercise, yet 80%+ of the time men dominate the freeweight area with not a single woman in sight! Women should squat, dead lift, bench press, sweat and work hard! Go heavy and work to the maximum – THAT gets results much faster, which is of course the key reason we seek progress at the gym in the first place – to see results, and preferably quicker!
The popular misconception that ‘wafer-skinny’ is the ultimate reward for sacrificing hours on end at the gym, is misguided and unhealthy. That’s just so ’80s. These days ‘strong is the new sexy’; people want to FEEL strong and BE healthy, not just LOOK thin at the cost of feeling malnourished. That’s not to say we should all end up looking like Muscle Mary’s either, by the way, but it is far tougher for women to gain physical mass than for men.
Muscles constantly burn fat, which combined with a healthy diet, can help to yield the ‘lean’ look. However, female bodies have a different hormonal set-up. Men naturally have higher testosterone levels (a ‘muscle-building’ growth & repair hormone) and because women have significantly less of this, it’s harder for us to gain muscle mass. Those few women you may see in the gym who look huge have most likely worked incredibly long & hard for that look! So stop worrying about ‘bulking up’. You just wont wake up one morning and split your blouse sleeves because you lifted heavy weights the night before!
There are certain muscle groups (& therefore certain exercises) that women should probably de-emphasise, relative to men. The Trapezius (neck & surround) muscle is a good example – something most women don’t care to develop. Likewise, few mademoiselles want comically-pronounced quadriceps – but what woman doesn’t want a perky, round firm ass – which by the way, is the gift you get from almighty squats and thunderous dead lifts! Or toned arms and defined shoulders? So start benching, or keep lifting heavier – I don’t want to come across all feminist, but ‘Go take over the weights area, Bitches !!!‘
(click MORE below to see all the photos from my workout at the very well equipped gym in the Hotel Byblos, Saint Tropez).
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