By, Mark Wine CSCS; USAW; NASM PT, PES, CES
Is there a difference between men's and women's muscles? No, of course not, muscle is muscle. The most misleading information in regards to women and resistance training is that heavier loads (weights) will make them bigger. Yes, heavier lifting does increase muscular hypertrophy, but it depends on your reps, variables, rep speed, rest time, sets and volume. Get my point? It is more than simply what you lift, but rather, how you lift it.
A proper training regimens number one focus should be geared to altering body composition. If an individual is excessively overweight, or even obese, then a reduction in body weight should be expected. However, many of my clients haven’t seen a significant drop in body weight, but they have seen a significant drop in body fat. In fact, one of my clients had to purchase a whole new wardrobe without losing more than five pounds! What happened? The body fat fell off and lean muscle latched on.
In the remaining portion of this article, I am going to explain the methodology for successful resistance training for fat loss.
Resistance training should incorporate:
1. Multi-joint complex movements that require heavier loads.
2. Shorter Rest Intervals coupled with heavier loads.
3. Higher repetitions integrated into a heavier training regimen and only on select days.
4. Move more and rest less.
Multi-Joint (MJ) complex movements increase lean muscle while elevating fat loss. Heavier MJ movements result in increased caloric expenditure during periods of activity and non-activity. Increased caloric expenditure, along with an elevated metabolic rate, leads to fat loss and lean muscle growth; thus, resistance training with heavier MJ movements is key.
Another positive effect of MJ complex movements is its effects on Growth Hormone (GH) production. GH is a naturally produced hormone that is stimulated through resistance training and amino acid digestion. GH significantly increases lean muscle and burns fat (i.e. favorably alters body composition). GH is radically increased during MJ heavy load training.
Short rest intervals during training have been shown to decrease the likelihood of muscular one hypertrophy while increasing fat burning. Muscular hypertrophy is when muscles increase in size. This increase is what makes women afraid of heavier load training. However, muscle gain results in additional calories burned and an increased metabolic rate. This is a favorable side effect. Having a lower body fat percentage and a higher lean muscle percentage increases one's healthfulness. Fortunately, heavier load training does not mean that muscle size has to be increased.
Proven tip number one, make the rest intervals 30 to 60 seconds. Proven tip number two, combine two or three exercises back-to-back; this technique is referred to as “superset training.” Proven tip number three, perform four or more exercises in succession without rest intervals; this training methodology is known as “circuit training.” Proven tip number four, perform one set after another of the same exercise; this training methodology, known as "drop-sets," requires the heaviest load for the first set and the succeeding sets get lighter. There is zero rest between sets during drop-sets.
Higher Repetitions with lighter loads is another critical component of any successful training program. The problem that arises with this methodology of training is that it is performed too frequently. Incorporating repetitions of 15 or greater during every workout will place emphasis on improving your muscular endurance and cardiovascular levels but will not significantly aid in fat loss. Most women who have participated in high repetition training programs have had to couple it with a reduced-calorie diet to achieve significant results. However, the participant’s body composition wasn't altered with much significance.
Solution, incorporate days where multi-joint movements are performed in a super-set and/or circuit-style workout. During the workout, multiple exercises should be performed that incorporate a reduced load with 12 repetitions or higher. The weight that is chosen throughout the workout should be “true weight.” True weight is a chosen load that forces the participant to struggle to complete the prescribed repetitions. Example: if 15 repetitions were prescribed, then the weight that is selected should not allow the user to complete 30 repetitions. If the user does not fail at or near 15 repetitions than the load that was selected was incorrect. Instead, select a weight that leads to failure or near failure around 15 repetitions.
Move more and rest less. Throughout their workouts, women should take less rest time in between sets and during the week they should have more active than non-active days. Moving more and resting less will increase one's metabolic rate, fat-burning capabilities and overall caloric expenditure. All of these characteristics equate to a lean physique.
Heavier weights, coupled with shorter rest intervals, results in greater health and fitness for all women. By following the guidelines mentioned in this article women can expect a leaner physique and an increase in overall strength. Both of these side effects are a result of fat burning and lean muscle retention. Therefore, it is highly advantageous for women to utilize the techniques laid out in this article as a guide during their next visit to the gym… and never shy away from picking up the weights!
Copyright Functional Muscle Fitness © 2012
1. Mark Wine. Growth Hormone – The Key to Unlocking Fat Loss, Lean Muscle, and Performance Enhancement. Functionalmusclefitness.com. ©2012.