Looking like a superhero isn’t just for men any more. More and more women are turning their focus from bikinis to Badass every day and personally: I love it! I think that mentally, and physically, the more we can support strength and confidence in the women we know and care about the better our world will become - but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, what does a woman need to know about training to be a badass?
The first is that looking (and being) seriously capable and athletic is going to require you to be significantly stronger than you would guess. Fitness writers have beaten the idea to death that women don’t need to be afraid of looking “manly” after lifting weights - and they’re right. The only mistake we’ve made so far is not telling you that women are going to need to get seriously strong to make the dramatic changes they want to see in their body. Case in point, many of my clients who workout at big-box gyms with a women’s only area are supplied with “ladies” barbells - barbells that weigh 25 to 50% of what a standard barbell on the “communal” side of the gym weighs!
The second obstacle women have to overcome is the sheer abundance of fitness advice and information they’re presented with - and not only that but how much a typical women’s blog or magazine advises them to do. Stuff like “The Top 20 Glute Exercises” or “50 Ab Exercises You Need For Arms Like Michelle Obama” might be cute reads but come on! You’ve got two options when you’re hit with information like this. The first is to recognize you can’t possibly have a productive training session with so many things to do and become confused as to what course of action to take if there really are 20 glute exercises you need to know TODAY (spoiler: there aren’t.) The second option is to try doing all of these and spend your time on a completely ineffective gym hamster wheel until you give up from lack of progress.
So what’s different with men? Honestly in the last few years: not much. There are some great publications that put out super high quality information but the average guy is being hit with the same nonsense women are getting. The advantage men have is history.
I can go back 10, 20, 40, 60, 80+ years and find training information written for men, and typically the further back I go the better it gets. In this case the idea of “getting back to basics” couldn’t be more relevant - or effective!
Women don’t have that same advantage SO let’s bring you up to speed! When it comes to developing a badass, female body there are typically a few body parts women need to focus on the most. These are:
Now, knowing this is great (and you probably already did!) but the really exciting part is learning to apply some solid, effective, training basics to these body parts and see how quickly results can come when you’re not stretching your focus around an impossibly large, and contradictory, set of training directives.
To improve these areas there are 3 key movements you want to include in your training program AND you want to be getting stronger on each and every week. Here are the 3 movements and the targets you should be shooting for:
Glutes: Sumo Deadlifts. Now, I’m not talking the “pulsing” half-range of motion, holding onto a dumbbell sumo deadlifts you see people doing in the middle of the gym. I’m talking a barbell with big, metal plates on each side and heavy, loud deadlifts. I’m sure this sounds intimidating to a lot of you but let's be serious here for a moment… throughout modern history everything that women have accomplished for themselves - everything, in every area, has first been intimidating for them and those around them. Women shouldn’t make noise when they lift weights is the gym equivalent of not giving women the right to vote so stop worrying about this TODAY. A good goal is to work up to your bodyweight for 10 reps and 125% of your body weight for 5 reps - when you can do that you’ll see some serious changes in your lower body and glutes!
Shoulders: Barbell Military Press. This is a bit of an old school lift (which is a good thing!) but there’s a reason athletes and bodybuilders depended on this movement for decades: it works! You should aim to strict press 50% of your bodyweight for 1 rep to start and for reps after that.
Arms: Chin Ups. I know, I know… women don’t have the same upper body strength as men, women can’t do chin ups, blah blah blah - I don’t care. All of the excuses for women not doing chin ups are nonsense. It should absolutely be your goal to get a bodyweight chin up and ultimately 5+ is absolutely achievable for you. I see too many people (men and women) worrying about what their arms look like who aren’t doing chin ups, don’t be one of those people. By the time you can do multiple reps your arms are going to have radically transformed. Final note, give up the nonsense that women can’t do these. I can a client in her mid 60s who bangs out sets of ten every week and is pushing for 15 - ‘nuff said.
Now that you’ve got these take a look at what you’re doing in the gym and keep these movements and performances in mind. The program that leads you to those results is one that will have you looking, feeling and performing like a total badass!