Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Lose Fat and Get a Lean, Sculpted Physique: Do This!

There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding training, particularly for females. I just read an awesome article about females and strength training by JC Deen of and I wanted to share it with you below.  

What you'll see in the magazines, on TV, and on fitness products, are not necessarily in line with what it takes to get great results – especially when it comes to the female physique.

There are a few problems that I hope to shed some light on today with this article.

  1. Resistance/Strength training should be a must in any female’s fitness routine who wishes to alter her body composition for the better. If the goal is to maintain a lean(er), “toned’ physique, some type of resistance training is a MUST. We’ll discuss what is best and what is not later on.

  2. Most traditional forms of media are either rehashing old, outdated information OR are pushing your emotional triggers to BUY, instead of making a rational decision. In these cases, making the sale is of far greater importance than what the product can actually do for you.
Females and Strength Training 

Maybe I’m making a bold statement here, but one of the biggest misconceptions, to this day, are how women shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights. It’s not uncommon to see females in the gym lifting tiny dumbbells and doing lots of cardio.

Why is this? It’s simple – they’ve all been told that lifting heavy weights is reserved for the boys and if they do as we do, they’ll look like us.

So, if they don’t want to look like us, they should clearly do the opposite, right?


While heavy weights, combined with a hearty diet is often the recipe for males to pack on size and muscle mass, it’s not a similar situation for females. And the reason is because of our hormonal profiles.

A concern I’ve come across in casual conversation with women about training is this fear of getting big and bulky. In case you’re unfamiliar with how the male and female bodies differ hormonally, the primary difference is the levels of testosterone between the sexes.

Men are naturally leaner, stronger and can carry more muscle mass than their counterparts. The reason why is due to the levels of testosterone within their system.

A female produces a tiny fraction of the testosterone that a male does. Since testosterone is the main determinant of the ability to grow in size and strength, it only makes sense that someone with much lower levels (women) will never achieve the same size as someone with much more of it (men).

The only way this is remotely possible is through exogenous use of testosterone and other anabolic compounds (steroids, shhh! I am assuming none of you will use so you have no worries.)

Of course, there are outliers – the occasional female who has slightly more testosterone than the average woman, but they’re few and far between. These are usually girls who are typically drawn more so to athletics and training, and thus have more muscular bodies as a result.

But even then, I don’t find those bodies to be unattractive or even “bulky” as one might describe a male’s body.

I've trained various females on strength training routines, some of them actually lift more than many men, and none of them possess a physique anywhere near the resemblance of a “bulky” man. So for all the females reading today, have no fear – I can assure you with all certainty that you’ll never, ever look like a male as a result of training for strength with heavy weights.

Despite the evidence pointing against a female’s ability to get big and bulky, false information is always being spread.

Problem is, it’s this type of misinformation that forever keeps ladies from their physique goals. It’s this exact thinking that will keep women on the treadmills and lifting the silly, pink dumbbells forever with no results to show for it.

So who’s to blame? I blame trainers and fitness folk who don’t stay up to date with current information, but I mostly blame the world of fitness marketing. Why? Just check some of these images below.

Great Marketing. Mediocre Results. 

So what do you notice about each image? There is a fit female, with an attractive physique, and they’re all using weights you could lift before you could speak.

Now ladies, do you really think those baby weights will produce the stimulus responsible for the firm, hard body you long for? If you’re answer is no, then you’re clearly “in-the-know.”

From here, I think we can agree there’s obviously a disconnect between what actually works, and what is being promoted.

As you will notice in one of the images, Jillian Michaels is holding a few small dumbbells. What we have here is the celebrity factor. Jillian is known around the world as a super trainer. She’s trained stars. She’s been on the TV show, The Biggest Loser. So in most people’s eyes, for having such stardom, she must know her stuff, right? 

Well maybe, maybe not. I’m not here to judge her on what she’s doing or how she’s getting results with others as I'm sure she knows her stuff and gets awesome results, but I bet she doesn’t have her clients using baby weights. And I imagine she is likely not using these weights in her own training, either.

The problem here is not affecting the informed fitness pro or even the avid fitness enthusiast. It’s hurting the ladies who simply want to lose some weight, improve their appearance and get fit again.

They’ll continue doing pump sets with 5lb dumbbells and will never achieve the figure they want – they’ll never get close to Jillian’s physique because that shape requires resistance training of some sort, period. 

And Then We Have Plain Bad Advice 

You often here the phrase ‘long and lean’ muscles as opposed to ‘bulky’ when describing the look a female often aspires to. And here’s the problem. We cannot physically change the length of our muscles too much.

Sure, some stretching will make you more limber and restricting movement for long periods will cause muscles to shorten, but never to the point of making a drastic visual difference.

So the idea of creating ‘long and lean’ muscles is just bad terminology BUT it sounds great to women because that is, after all, what most want – that hard, lean physique.

Traditional Media and Marketing

As you will see on this cover, there are plenty of headlines that will get many women to buy. I mean, who doesn’t want a “toned tummy, arms and thighs in 20 minutes”? Who doesn’t want to “kiss cellulite goodbye?”

What I love about traditional media in the women’s fitness genre is the stellar formula. Great headlines + a picture of a lady in a bikini + great ad copy = $$$$.

While we don’t have a ton of research on metabolism, nutrient requirements for athletes, etc, we have enough to help us draw some conclusions and most importantly, get positive results. 

In fact, in an article titled How To Get Jennifer Aniston’s Bikini Bod (published 2/8/2010), under the diet section, it reads:

To replicate a lean body — especially in your 40s — you’d have to eat an “extremely clean diet” that is high in protein and consists of many small meals to keep the metabolism going, Di Palma says.

And this is where I wish we could get some recent research to explain how skipping breakfast (or any other meal) is not as detrimental as we once thought. There's a ton of research showing this is not the case (if you want some just let me know). The research shows no negative effects on metabolism from fasting. It's clearly stated in research that resting energy expenditure (metabolism) can even increase with short-term fasting. 

So What Now? 

This is what I hope to leave you with. Marketing plays a huge role in your decisions on a daily basis. Most of the models gracing the covers of women’s fitness publications are doing much more than the occasional 20-minute workout to achieve the physique they have.

You may be thinking, “What if I'm just a beginner? Are the 5 pound dumbbells okay to get started with?”

Yes. It’s okay if you’re beginning weight training to start with the lightest weight available. You just don’t want to continue with these weights forever. If you do, you’ll never make the adaptations responsible for producing a lean, sculpted physique.

So while the light dumbbells are fine for a short period, the goal is progressive overload (lifting more weight) over time. If you aren’t getting stronger over the long-term, you are spinning your wheels, and whistling Dixie as my mom likes to say.

I know ladies who are busting their tails in the gym 4-5 days per week to achieve the same look you see on the covers. I have written programs for them so I know exactly what they’re training entails. If I haven’t worked with them, I know who their trainers are and what they have them doing.

There is no secret – the physiques gracing the covers are a product of progressive strength training routines, not 10 minutes of 5lb dumbbell curls followed by an hour of the elliptical. Some of these girls are very strong and will never be as bulky as a male.

So the next time you pick up that magazine or get ready to buy a product with a pretty figure promoting it, step back and ask yourself – “Is this really what I need or am I giving into awesome copywriting and a dashing physique?”

If you want to ask any questions, don't hesitate to, contact me anytime.

Your friend,


PS. If you live in North or West Vancouver, BC and want to experience one of the best boot camps in North Vancouver that also GUARANTEES you'll lose at least a clothing size in 30 days or your money back AND will help you get fast results like Patty in the video below who lost 22.5 pounds and 21.5 total inches, then click the link below:

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