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Old 03-25-2005, 10:37 AM   #1
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different treatment for women?

I've been doing weights for a few months now, and I really want to learn how to do the "male" stuff: bench press, squats, etc. I also want to use heavier weights on the machines. But as a woman, I often get reactions like "do light weights, high reps, otherwise you'll build too much muscle" (and then they do an imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger). And when I ask a fitness instructor to teach me bench presses his eyes nearly fall out of their sockets.
It irritates me so much! As if muscle grows that quickly, especially with women... And what's wrong with a bit of muscle anyway...

What do you guys think? Do you agree with the opinion that women should do light weights, and only machines, no loose weights? Why? Or can they more or less do the same things men do?

 
Old 03-25-2005, 11:30 AM   #2
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Re: different treatment for women?

My trainer has me using heavier and heavier weights each time I go to see her. I'm starting to tone up really nicely and I'm not looking anything like a man. I do bench presses, squats, and other things that I see guys doing. If I were you, I'd talk to some other trainer who's willing to help you and not make you feel like you're doing something wrong.

 
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Old 03-25-2005, 12:06 PM   #3
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Re: different treatment for women?

I think it depends on your muscular structure. I happen to have short muscles and bulk up very fast (thick neck, beefy shoulders etc...) with heavy lifting. My SIL however has long muscles and stays thin and lean. High reps with light weights allow for an over-all toning rather than ripple-y muscles.

If you want the body-builder gal look then go for the heavy weights. I'm not sure why the trainers you've spoken with feel benching, squats, etc... are "male stuff". Using low weights or just the bar can tone just as well as hand-held free weights and machines. The type of exercise isn't what gives you bulk it's the weight you use. Using heavier and heavier weights as Bostongirl's trainer does will provide strength and in the long-term it will add bulk.

I prefer the lean toned look (currently I've got the mother of a young toddler look going ) and avoid the heavy stuff. I like lots of aerobics and light lifting. It works well for my body type. I hope you find someone that's willing to work with you towards your personal goals soon!

Kelly

 
Old 03-25-2005, 02:36 PM   #4
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Re: different treatment for women?

Well, I'm not going for the body builder look (but I wouldn't mind some muscle appearing, even though that's not my goal), but I would like to be (a lot) stronger. As I understand it very low reps and high weight build strength, 12-15 reps build muscle mass, and high reps build strength endurance.

Frankly, I don't care anymore what my instructors think. I ask them to learn how to work with free weights, and the only thing I get is a brief instruction on incline bench presses (so brief that I'm not quite sure how to do it), kick backs, frontal and lateral raises (while emphasizing to use light weights, even when I can do lots more). Considering I'm a paying customer I'm going to insist on getting some proper explanations.

You know, I get a bit of a kick out of being the only woman in my gym who works with free weights. Even the stronger women, who take heavy weights, never do bench presses or anything like that. Even though I'm not that strong yet, I think it's loads of fun in the "men's corner".

I have no idea what my muscular structure is, so I'll just have to wait and see what happens. In any case, I don't think I'll ever be skinny, so if I have to choose between "heavy" with muscle or "heavy" with fat (which I am now) it's an easy choice...

 
Old 03-25-2005, 03:15 PM   #5
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Re: different treatment for women?

I say definitely go with the free weights, it pretty difficult for women to get the bulky look unless you REALLY work on it anyway.

Just starting out, it is easier to get your form down perfect if you are using weight that is a little lighter, your form is WAY more important than how much weight you lift.

 
Old 03-26-2005, 03:50 AM   #6
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Re: different treatment for women?

Great post and one of my personal pet peeves! Let me first say I am a trainer with 20+ years personal training experience and about 15 years training experience, I also hold advanced degrees in exer phys. I focius my work on atletes and primarily bodybuilders (I am also a pro qualified natural bodybuilder)

My first advice is next time you see your trainer, turn and run in the other direction. Too many trainers are "weekend wonders" who spend 16 hrs in a training class and get certified. I wouldn't take their advice on where the water fountain is.

I have women train the "forbiden exercises" Bench press, Squat and Deadlift! It is the quickest way to your goals - REGARDLESS of what they are. Unless their is some medical exemption these are exercises that almost everyone should do.

HUGE POINT 1- "I train with low weight and high reps to tone" This just has no merrit in exercise physiology. The muscle doesn't say oh "these are high reps I can't get big now" Muscle either fires or it doesn't fire period and muscle cells are either fast twitch or slow twitch. Some muscle groups with a predominence of one type of fiber prefer heavy weight over light weight.

So how do some people get so much lean mass? First this is the hardest possible goal to do and you don't do this by accident. Weight wise it's volume. You have to be doing multiple sets of one muscle group to gain lean mass. Second, you have to have a rock solid diet and be in a positive nitrogen balance (heavy protein use) Third having a lot of testosterone and genetic "gifts" really are a must. Look around the gym, venture into the meathead section - know why these guys look the same year after year? Because gaining muscle is reallly really hard!

Here is a real life example - look at a powerlifter - No, not the big Russian guy that you remember from the early eighties olympics that's olympic lifting. Powerlifters compete for strength on the bench press, the squat and the deadlift to see who can do the most weight in a one lift attempt. Now these guys do have weight classes and the big guys are large (not necessarly muscular but large) Look at the light weight guys. These guys train very low volume and focus on heavy weight. The 132 guys routinely bench press 300lbs!!! At 132 you would think these men were computer nerds, they look like they never touch weights. Guess what - low volume training doesn't add a lot of lean muscle size.

So feel free to do free weights and if you want to "tone" (man, I hate that word) Then focus on low volumes, good form and strive to get stronger evry workout.

Thank you for letting me rant, I feel better now. I think I will go deadlift a small car now.

 
Old 03-27-2005, 04:48 AM   #7
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Re: different treatment for women?

I'm glad you feel better. Nothing like a good rant

One of the fitness instructors is a physiotherapist, so he's not entirely clueless. But still...

My goal is not to tone. What does that mean anyway, tone? Toning for me would be to lose bodyfat, and that has nothing to do with how much weight I lift. At 30% bodyfat, I sure could use some toning

My goals are to get stronger, and to add muscle mass. Not to get bulky or anything, but extra lean mass gives a faster metabolism, and some extra muscle would look nice.
But also, the reason I want to do these "male" exercises is because they seem fun! Something most people can't understand from a girl... Also, when I tell people I want to be stronger, I have to give an excuse like "I'm going to learn windsurfing, so I need strength". Otherwise, why would a girl want to be strong? Hey, I just want to kick my boyfriends *** when we wrestle!

For my goals, what would you recommend? How many sets and reps?

 
Old 03-28-2005, 05:49 AM   #8
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Re: different treatment for women?

I would start by adding the three basics - bench press, squats and dead lifts. Plenty of warm up sets and then 1-2 work sets. Use perfect form and shoot for a 10-12 rep range. If you can do 15 reps add weight. I would train these lifts once per week and add them into your current plan. Spend about a month to really get down the form and muscle pathways trained prior to adding too much weight

 
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