So you’ve been training for quite sometime now, however this wasn’t always the case. Maybe you were the type of female who was constantly booked into group fitness classes?
6am class? Booked into it, 5pm Spin? Already booked in, you doing Body Pump after? Yea, I’m booked in.
Fast forward a year or two and now you’re in the gym lifting more weights, than taking part in group fitness classes, or potentially you’ve stopped group fitness all together.
Perhaps you’re new to the gym and have opted straight for the weights. Either way there is a massive shift that’s been materialising over the last two to three years, where women aren't doing as many group fitness classes and getting into the gym and lifting more. Which is great.
It can take a long time for women to build the physique they desire. A major factor in this is that women have approximately a tenth of the amount of testosterone as men. Yes, you read right; a tenth! So be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
One of the first things we can do when we get a new female client is look at how much they’re eating. In many cases we will bring females calories up, before bringing them down. Chronically low calories over extended periods of time will result in down regulation of the thyroid, causing the metabolism to slow. So the first thing we will do is up calories.
Fat loss is still achievable when calories are brought up, in these instances, females are still in a caloric deficit, however, the deficit has just been cut down to make it more maintainable. Giving NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis), basically the amount of energy you burn when you don't exercise and EAT (exercise activity thermogenesis), the amount of energy you burn when training, the chance to rise.
Too low calories leaves no room for manipulation, building on calories gives you a much better starting point to then bring calories down. Slowly increase calories over a period of 3-4 weeks to let your metabolism catch up.
Having said that, everyone has what's called a caloric ceiling, meaning there will be a point where we can no longer take them higher.
You must shift your focus to progressing in your lifts and becoming stronger. Sticking to a program and logging lifts will be a great tool in assisting progression. Keep your rest periods short as in my opinion, females tend to recover quicker than males, the same for between workouts.
With recovery being more efficient, the amount of times you train can be increased, however this doesn't mean you can train 3 times a day 6 times a week, make sure it is maintainable. For example one of our clients train glutes twice a week. Training frequency and recovery will all depend on your reserves, ensure correct nutrition, sleep and hydration to optimise recovery. Mobility and flexibility will also play a role in this.
To keep your body composition in check, when you do have a rest day ensure calories are adjusted accordingly. As your energy expenditure will be lower for that day, then intake will have to be lower too.
Work on bringing up your posterior chain, hamstring, glutes and back. Females tend to be more quad dominant in lifts such as the squat and deadlift. Good mornings, Stiff Legged Deadlifts, the Barbell Glute Bridge and Romanian Deadlifts are all good exercises to bring up the posterior chain.
Cardio will have to be implemented if you want to get lean, perform metabolic work on the end of your workouts. Even if your goal isn’t to be lean, this will help with keeping your physique in control, which will then stand you in good stead for when you do diet down. For example, a simple metabolic workout would be;
20 Kettlebell Swings
10 Press Ups
10 Push Press
10 Back Squat
10 Med Ball Slams
Repeat all exercises continuously for 20 minutes nonstop, only resting to get your breath back. See how many rounds you complete in the 20 minutes then try to beat your score the next time you come to do it.
At some point, calories will have to be dropped; it's inevitable. Yet if you’ve brought calories up in the onset then this won't be as dramatic. Bring calories down slightly for a day, the day after that bring them down slightly lower again, and again on day 3.
Once you’ve dropped calories down for two, three days you will then need to up your calories incrementally to where you started dropping them from. Repeat the process again. As your carbohydrates are dropped you will need to safeguard yourself from atrophy (the loss of muscle tissue), increase protein intake to protect against this. For example;
Day 1; 2400 calories
Day 2; 2275 calories
Day 3; 2150 calories
Day 4; 2400 calories
Carb cycling is a great tool if your goal is fat loss. There are many ways you can utilise carb cycling into your nutritional program. Below is a simple example of a 5 day carb cycle;
Day 1; 225g carbs
Day 2; 175g carbs
Day 3; 150g carbs
Day 4; 175g carbs
Day 5; 225g carbs
The leaner you get the more aggressive you can be with your spikes.
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