Okay boys and girls, it’s time to break some things down for you. Today’s lesson will hopefully cement in your minds some very key concepts of fitness that you MUST become aware of. Becoming aware of these things is going to help you inch closer to that six-pack, finally losing the love handles, running a 6-minute mile, nailing a 300-pound bench press, or whatever your fitness goals may be. You see, it doesn’t matter what your goals are. A well-tailored plan, a healthy diet, and determination is going to work for you. Whether you are a man or woman, hard work is hard work, and the results are going to happen. This leads me to my first point and the opening of today’s lesson…
- Forget gender specific workouts. Workouts should not be geared towards only men, or only women. Sure men may be able to lift more, work longer, etc. but it doesn’t mean women can’t do the same workout. The workout itself isn’t what is going to get you big, bulky, and looking like a man. High levels of testosterone (something you women lack), a high calorie diet (something you can easily avoid), and the genetics to put on more muscle tissue are why men look like….men. We’ve of course all seen women bodybuilders who look like Greek statues, veins popping and all. Trust they didn’t get this way by simply lifting heavy weights alone. Their physique is the result of an extremely strict, high-calorie diet, many supplements to boost their testosterone production, and relatively limited cardio. In the end, workouts are workouts. It’s the things mentioned above that will determine how the workout ultimately changes your body.
- Cardio/Weight training ratios play a large part in determining your physique. Take a look at the images below:
Now, I’m not here to judge. There is nothing wrong with any of these body types. The two on the end are examples of extremes. The woman on the left is a marathon runner. She likely does very little weight training, and focuses many hours a week on cardio. Unfortunately, this excess amount of cardio eats up her muscle, fat (you want fat in certain places don’t you?), and leaves her very skinny. For those of you who think massive amounts of cardio is the answer…prepare to kiss any muscle (and physique) goodbye. The woman on the right is quite obviously a serious bodybuilder. High calories, exclusively weight lifting with no cardio for extended periods during the year, and a healthy dose of supplements (or ‘roids) have gotten her to where she is. She didn’t get this way by simply lifting heavy weights alone. Want to look like her? Follow the above advice. The girl in the middle is fit, athletic, and healthy looking. An even dose of cardio, mixed with heavy lifts, compound lifts, and a well-balanced diet have her looking the way she does. Again, I’m not saying any of these bodies are wrong, just putting them up there and letting you decide what you want to be.
- Understand what “toned” means. You’ll hear this word used in the fitness industry a lot. More often than not, products, articles, etc. geared towards women will tell you their method of doing things will get you toned, not big and buff. This is a scare tactic. All toned means is less body fat. When someone looks “toned”, their muscles are more pronounced. Their muscles aren’t different, they simply have less body fat covering them so they pop out more. Want to get toned? Develop muscle underneath your layer of fat by completely fatiguing your muscle fibers with heavy weights (not 5lb dumbbells). Mix in explosive cardio sessions to blast the fat away, and voila, you have developed muscle, zapped fat, and now look “toned”. Remember from above, a healthy ratio of cardio to weight training will make it impossible to get big and bulky.
None of this advice is gender specific. Whether you are a guy or girl, it all holds true. Our bodies’ are largely the same, the key differences in hormone balances, genetics, and inherent muscle mass/body fat deposits are why men look like men and women look like women. Keep these three points in your head as you continue along your journey towards a fit and healthy body. There are certainly going to be days where you feel you are simply not making progress, or getting “too big and bulky”. Eliminate these thoughts, trust in the science, and in the end, you’re going to have the body (and health) you’ve always wanted.
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