Quite often we find that female clients can be hesitant to pick up the barbell. Let alone getting them to train for strength.
Why are some females so scared by the concept?
For most, it’s the preconceived conception that they will pick up a heavy weight and in the morning be the female Hulk. This is far from the case.
Before we head into things, what are the benefits of strength training for women?
The biggest benefit? A greater rate of fat loss! Your rate of oxygen consumption post training is increased, and the more oxygen you are consuming, the more you are burning. This is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
Not to mention other factors such as curves, greater calorie expenditure, better quality sleep, increased energy and more.
Did you know…
- Women require less rest between sets.
- Women can train heavier more frequently than men.
- Women can do sets of 5 closer to their 1 Rep Max (1RM) than men.
We have listed some simple tips to help transition your female clients into strength training.
- Build them up slowly.
Start off with small, bodyweight movements covering basic movement patterns (e.g. bodyweight squat, press ups, assisted pulls ups and so on). From here you can then start to transition them into resistance machines and free weights. It’s often not until a client can physically see progress that they will become less hesitant to try new things. Build up their strength and confidence before throwing them into the deep end of the free weights room.
- Use self-motivation.
Motivate I hear you say? That’s easy, it’s part of the job. Here, we are referring to the Self Determination Theory (STD). Everyone has the desire to feel involved or “be in the know” and have some form of structure that they have control of. This theory concerns human motivation, personality and optimal functioning. Rather than just the amount of motivation, self-determination theory focuses on different types of motivation.
So how do you apply this to your client? Let’s say you’re about to take them through a back workout, and they hate training back. As a trainer, you could give them some form of control over that session, let them choose the destiny of the day. Let them choose one of the exercises, giving them an option: “OK, so we can either do a barbell bent over row or a deadlift”. This gives the client a feeling of ownership and comfort. They have chosen the exercise, whether they like either option or not, so in their mind they have that feeling of control.
As a trainer this should be no worry for you, you’ll have an array of alternate exercises to choose from, especially with the help of our workout database 😉 so you can still programme around this.
- Always give positive feedback.
Clients love to hear they’re doing something correctly, or perhaps better than previously. Don’t be afraid to correct them when needed, you can always back this up with a positive, for example: “Remember to keep your shoulders back on the next rep, other than that your form has really come on!”. Refrain from being that “good job” trainer, keep it fresh and relevant. Time your compliments well and you’ll see your client’s motivation and energy rise. As you’re moving to a new exercise, how about: “You’re going to really enjoy this exercise, you perform really well with new movements”. Even when a client becomes unsure of themselves, your well timed compliment can make a whole world of difference.
- Make them familiar with a barbell.
As your client progresses, you can slowly start to introduce the smith machine and barbell. Remind them that utilising free weights will help increase their energy expenditure during and after training. Perhaps even show them their favourite female fitness athlete training with free weights. Start off with the barbell, as this doesn’t require as much stabilisation as dumbbells and is used in most compound lifts. Introduce the basic compound lifts (squat, deadlift, shoulder press and bench press) and when taking your client through the movement patterns, don’t overcomplicate it – keep it simple and easy to follow.
So there we have it, one trainer at a time we will slowly break the misconceptions of females and weightlifting, and help bring more strong women into the fitness industry. It won’t be easy, some will jump into it like a fish in water straight away while others may struggle, but that’s what we, the trainer, are here for.