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Ladies unleash your inner bullet proof tiger

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Dave and I were talking the other day about the intensity of our workouts. The long and short of that conversation is that we both decided we were bullet proof tigers in the gym and that we don’t mind pushing ourselves really hard most of the time. Once I’d squeezed my ego back into my pocket I turned to thinking about how to blog this constructively and because it’s been a while since we have done a female orientated post – this one is for the ladies.

Now before I get accused of going all “Keys and Gray” on our female members, this applies to the vast majority of men who train at Dave’s as well. For the most part when we write programs for people we have no trouble in getting them to train hard enough to be able to

get the most out of their workout. Once you don’t have someone there watching and shouting all kinds of obscenities at you it can be difficult to motivate yourself and to reach the same level all of the time. Far too often apathy can creep in and tha

t means, ultimately, you won’t enjoy the session, nor get the best out of it. If you train below your threshold all the time, at best you will maintain what you have. Raising the intensity of your workouts is a guaranteed way of moving towards your short and long term goals. This does not mean that you need to bleed from the nose every time you come to the gym, training just hard enough is a good skill to have, as is allowing yourself to rest now and then.

What follows is a list of reasons why it is possible for people to stop progressing and what you can do to rectify the situation;

Not changing your program every six weeks.

A good program is designed with your current capacity for work in mind. Provided you do the movements with good technique, after roughly six weeks adaptation no longer occurs. Changing the stimulus will keep your body guessing and ensure that you don’t get too comfortable. It also wouldn’t surprise me that after six weeks of the same thing you’ll just be bored and this fact alone really doesn’t bode well for increasing intensity.

Not making use of gym instructors outside of six programming appointments.

We want to be as involved in your training as you will let us be. Girls, if on a particular day you have made it to the gym but can’t find the right gears, for god’s sake use the staff in the gym, after all you are paying for them! This is not an open door for free personal training, however, if you need a motivator for the odd five minutes here and there to get you up for it then use what is available.

Not realising ways with which you can transform a workout without changing the exercises.

Did you know that your workout is not written in stone? Far too often I see girls for a program update and they haven’t progressed their workout over the previous weeks. I elaborate this idea further in another point later. The two simplest ways to do this are by increasing the resistance, or by shortening the rest between sets and exercises. Using a weight that causes you to get to near failure at the allotted rep range is far more beneficial than finishing a set knowing that you could do twenty more reps.

Obsessing about how long your workout takes.

You just have to take it from me that sometimes less is more, provided the work has been done. Just because your workout didn’t last an hour doesn’t mean that you won’t get results. Take crossfit for example, excluding the warm-up, a session is rarely longer than 20mins. Why are they so fit? Well its simple really, they train at 100% every time they go to the gym. For women who do not use w

eights in their training the solution seems to be longer and longer cardio. Well placed cardio can be a good thing, but unless you are running a marathon prolonged cardio sessions suggest you are just cruising and gaining nothing.

Correct exercise selection.

Far too often I come across girls doing resistance exercises that are really easy. The classics are bicep curls and overhead triceps extension. I have to commend highlighting a problem area and using an exercise to fix it directly however, those exercises are just not getting anywhere near the stimulation that y

ou need in a weights program. A simple rule here should be that if an exercise feels easy you should be doing something else. Combine the small arm exercises with bigger movements such as squats and lunges to ramp up intensity and get more muscle stimulation out of each rep. Do not use the excuse that because you do loads of cardio you are exempt from doing lower body exercises.

Not installing progressive resistance as part of the program.

Goals aren’t achieved by good workouts; goals are achieved by adherence good programming. A good program is not a collection of workouts done arbitrarily for no reason, there must be a structure and built in progression throughout. Programming is the hardest thing about training and that is why trainers do a lot of the thinking for you. Regardless of this, just doing something the way its written almost exclusively means you’ll just get good at doing those things in that way. Time for an example:

Week 1:

2 x 10 reps

Week 2:

3x 10

Week 3, 4, 5:

4, 5, 6 x10

Week 6:

Rest/deload

*this is progression in its simplest form.

Change is good, but stick to the basics.

Every year new pieces equipment or fitness fads are unleashed onto the exercise market. All these products and routines have one thing in common, “get results fast with minimal effort”. The fact is that you get nothing out of doing nothing. There is no substitute for hard work regardless of what equipment you use. The newest and worst of the lot is the Power Plate. If you look past the sales pitch and ask yourself why it actually works what you’ll find is squats and lunges. More proof I here you say, well if vibration gets you thin, why are some lorry drivers fat? Compound movements are the basic infrastructure for most programs. Once these are in place isloation work can be added as accessory work in order to help develop the bigger movements. Without the classics you are doomed to a world of plateaus and mediocrity. Not only do squats, lunges, rows, deadlifts and presses recruit lots of muscle activation but they also develop the holy grail for the “functional” trainer, core.

Get your exercise order correct – weights first cardio last.

From what I can gather, in female circles, cardio is still seen as the best fat burning option. As I’ve already mentioned well structured cardio can be a good aid in the quest for weight loss however weights are just as important. Take it from us that doing your weights first and your cardio second is better. Doing things in this order means you won’t be so tired when you are performing resistance movements. Quality is everything when it comes to weights and being tired from 30-40 mins cardio increases the risk of bad technique. Similarly, if you push the cardio too hard and then do weights you won’t perform maximally and therefore you miss out on lots of muscle stimulation which you need in order to achieve the toned body we all want. Another good tip is to start your routine with big movements and work down to smaller ones.

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