Elite fitness for women
12 March 2012
There is so much focus on the differences between men and women in modern society that we often forget that we are actually more alike than we are different. If you were to consider our anatomy, physiology and biology it would become quite apparent that we are very similar indeed. Of course there are the glaringly obvious differences like our reproductive systems but at a base level we are almost the same. We have the same bones, the same muscles and the same neural pathways. Our endocrine (to a certain extent), digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems – to name a few – have the same function regardless of gender.
Our bodies are capable of tremendous feats yet women – perhaps due to society’s expectations – tend not to aim for physical prowess like their male counterparts.
For too long women’s fitness has been second to mens. Women have hidden away in single gender facilities or have attended low-impact classes when all the time they could have been training as hard – if not harder – than men and therefore reaping the substantial rewards.
Not every woman wants to train like Cathy Freeman, however it’s important to understand that the walk in the park kind of workout isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Popular media has a lot to answer for. Those airbrushed fakes you see on magazine covers are not indicative of what a healthy woman is or should aspire to be. The diets you read about in such publications are – almost without exception – misleading and dangerous. Often, the workouts prescribed are plain rubbish. The health and fitness advice from these publishers is more about what a single celebrity does this week rather than what can and will work for most women.
If you want results from your health and fitness program, you need to turn everything on its head. The truth is that success requires hard work and dedication. This fact is true of exercise, diet, career development and personal relationships.
As a fitness trainer, I often see women afraid to push their limits during a workout. I often see women give up when they could go further. I often see women shy away from weights and high intensity effort. Let’s be absolutely clear, there is nothing that a man can do in the gym, on the field, in the ring or anywhere else that a woman can’t do too.
It’s a matter of changing the way you perceive exercise and physical challenges. The harder you work, the more amazing your results will be. The better your results, the more you want to train. It’s a positively reinforcing cycle.
There are many misconceptions about physical training. Women tend to avoid weights fearing that they will get too big. Everyone needs to understand that you won’t develop huge muscles when lifting weights unless that’s your goal. You need to eat immense amounts of foods and follow a program specifically designed for hypertrophy (muscles tissue growth) in order to develop large muscles. Genetics play a part too. For ladies, a properly designed program can push your limits and still maintain your uniquely feminine physique.
If you want to change your workouts for the better, here’s my top recommendation: up the intensity. Focus intently on your goal. Make every workout the best workout yet. Don’t take long rests between exercises. Get in and out of the gym as fast as you can. Sweat. Breathe hard. Find your physical limit and push right through it. Intensity equals results.
Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to; your body will follow. Now, go out and start tearing it up.
I wrote this article in 2009. It’s still pertinent over three years late. -Adam