Train Like a Man

By Vanessa Ocasio

As the owner of a personal training studio, I haven’t been a member of a traditional fitness club in roughly eight years. With that being said, six months ago I decided to join a small gym down the street from my house so I could have my own time to work out, away from my everyday life at my studio. Interestingly, even though I haven’t been to a public gym for nearly a decade, I realized that many things haven’t changed: Women still come into the gym and work out at a fairly low intensity, leaving with their hair and makeup exactly the way it looked before they started exercising.

I want to tell them exactly what I tell my own clients—if you don’t look like you worked out, you probably weren’t working hard enough. I see the same women coming into the gym and completing the same exercises each and every time with no variety and no intensity.

 Something else I noticed recently is that some women pick up the light weights and do a couple repetitions of one exercise. All the while their facial expressions are barely changing. If you’re truly pushing yourself while lifting weights, there will be some change in your facial expressions.

When I watch these women train, their faces don’t change. They’re not breathing heavy and they’re definitely not sweating.

I see this very issue with many of the female clients at my studio. Women claim they have been “intensely” working out for several years and are disappointed with their results.

If you fall into the category of women who put in long hours at the gym with no results, here are a few tips that will help you achieve the REAL results you have been looking for:

• Start sweating and even grunting. If you’re lifting weights and you don’t get to the point where you’re making a face or a noise, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. If you‘ve heard the phrase “that’s something only men do,” please remember that your muscle and fat cells don’t care whether you’re a man or a woman. You need to challenge your body in order for it to change.

• Contrary to popular belief—you will NOT bulk up by lifting weights. Women do not produce enough testosterone to grow massive muscles like men do. The “getting bulky” myth has been debunked!

• Focus on free weights. Instead of focusing on fixed-point machines that only work a single muscle group at a time, put your energy towards exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. If you’re looking to increase overall fitness, lean muscle and fat burn, you should look for compound and functional exercises such as squats, bench press, shoulder press, deadlifts and lat pull-downs/pull-ups that challenge multiple muscle groups at once.

• Get a personal trainer. Although hiring a personal trainer can be expensive, you need to think of a personal trainer as paying for tuition in a course that will extend the quality of your life. Make sure you research your trainer and ask him or her questions about their training philosophy. If a trainer tells you that they train women differently than men, you might consider a different option. Just remember that exercise is all about intensity and function. For example, women should not be afraid of movements that are typically thought of as “male” exercises. There is nothing intrinsically “male” about pushing a weight away from your body.

In conclusion:

• Remember to keep the intensity high throughout your whole workout.

• Focus on the free weights.

• Seek professional assistance to take your workout to the next level!

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