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Thread: Women and strength training, your experience and advice please page 2

  1. #11
    sbhikes's Avatar
    sbhikes is offline Senior Member
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    I am not fatter. I just saw a picture of myself and was sad I didn't look as good as I do in the mirror. My clothes are the same. My waist is still at it's lowest. I am not really eating much more, especially since I have been eating lower fat for a month or two. Even black coffee.

    I just want to see some useful info for women that isn't all gummed up with the advice that works for men. I suppose I could have used "She-Groks" and "works different for us" in the title but that's been done already.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

  2. #12
    seaweed's Avatar
    seaweed is offline Senior Member
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    I can say that after 4 weeks of it, it feels good to be stronger. It's also a fun project because of the progress being so tangible. But it is sort of a bummer to always be feeling a little bit sore.
    we were taught when i studied personal training that it takes about 4 weeks for body comp changes to happen. they did teach us alot of other stuff that was a crock so who knows. i'd still give it time. there have been some good links on different threads here to training for women. i like this one
    How to Get a Body Like Jessica Biel

  3. #13
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    bloodorchid is online now Senior Member
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    strong doesn't equal steroid huge

    also

    #4, keep moving, it'll help with the stiff soreness

    and that's all i got
    beautiful
    yeah you are

    Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

  4. #14
    sbhikes's Avatar
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    I'm not saying that strong = big. But I am saying that there is a lot of stuff out there directed to men that they can't get strong unless they get big, that big = strong, that the bigger your muscles get the stronger you are, or that you will get big so long as you work on getting strong and stuff like that. I've seen plenty of really super strong women who are super tiny. So obviously all that big = strong, drink a gallon of milk advice is either just wrong, or it works differently for women. So I am curious about how it works for us. What do the successful strong women do?
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

  5. #15
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    well, i think that it's a matter of contrasting leangains with bulking methods.

    the idea with most traditional bulking methods is that you overfeed, which increases muscle and fat, and then you go through a leaning phase to prep for competitions or whatever (for body builders).

    most strongmen -- or really some of the strongest women, too -- are endomorphic. They naturally carry more muscle and mroe body fat. I think that the more body fat is somehow protective of their joints -- but that's just me pulling an idea out of thin air, you know? I mean, those guys and gals who get into olympic lifting and power lifting and strongman stuff are truly JUST HUGE PEOPLE.

    And, btw, I find them very sexy.

    That being said, they need to feed to support the muscle, and msot of them aren't following a leangains approach -- and I'm not sure how lean they would be anyway (being endomorphic in tendency). But, some of them do work on being leaner and others don't really give a shit, because they just want to be stronger and win and. . . well, the method works.

    But, if you go leangains route -- which is basically what my husband does now -- he's surprised at both how his strength gains and muscle size are increasing while he's maintaining his current leanness and/or getting leaner. This is counter to anything he'd ever learned about lifting, nutrition for lifting, etc etc etc. So, it's sort of awesome for him.

    I think that women are different than men, btu I think that these question smay not be so much in the "how are girls different" (and I'd have to think harder on this one, honestly), as opposed to "leangains" vs "conventional wisdom" stuff.

  6. #16
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    Another poster mentioned Stumptuous; also have a look at Strong is the New Skinny (blog and on Facebook).

    Re: progress - I think it's far more sensible to do what you've been doing - listen to your body and use a weight which will let you finish your workout without injury rather than add a certain amount each session because the program says you should. Being focussed on proper form and technique is not wimping out. I'm doing 5x5 at the moment and had to deload my squat weight when I first got to 130lbs because I just couldn't get back up. Fast forward to this morning (2 weeks after fail) and I got through all of my sets on 137.5lbs.

  7. #17
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    Also it's important to remember that you do not build muscle while lifting. That's the tear-down. Recovery is where you build muscle. You need to work in a generous amount of recovery days in order to prevent injury and rebuild the muscle itself. Lifting heavy literally tears muscle fibers apart and so if you're constantly sore, you may not be repairing and rebuilding the muscle, but only tearing and destroying it over and over. Please don't ignore recovery days.

    When I was lifting heavy I did a fairly typical rotation starting the week with large muscles and compound lifts and ending the week with small muscles and isolation lifts. I NEVER worked the same muscle group on back-to-back days. My strength came gradually and at the end I was lifting pretty heavy for a woman (I got to be able to use 50lb dumbbells for presses; the biggest challenge was actually picking them up and getting them into position!). I never got huge, but I did get strong.
    5' 9" 44 YO F
    PB start June 2, 2012
    Pre PB SW = 180 (no scale at home, Mom's scale January - 153lbs!)


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  8. #18
    Owly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    1) So hungry! Yet still too fat.
    Advice I have seen is to eat more protein. I easily eat over 100g of protein a day. Other advice around here is to eat more carbs so I also have a potato for breakfast and sometimes another one for lunch.

    Other advice on the Starting Strength site says that if you are already fairly fat, eat a low carb paleo diet. Expect to see your waist shrink (this is what they say will happen to fat guys.) So far, none of my fat has budged. If anything, I'm fatter.

    Okay, so have I been blowing it royally with the potatoes? Should I eat to my appetite (I'm so hungry the day I lift)? Should I white-knuckle through the hunger and try for a calorie deficit? Go back to a low carb diet? Am I mistaking muscle bulk under my fat or even inflamed muscles for weight gain? Any advice for the almost 50 women out there?
    Are you really getting bigger, and are you weighing and taking measurements to track that? Also, how long have you tracked over? I find it takes a while for what one does to really show up as a trend. That's why I use an app that tracks my weight on a graph over time--seeing variation up and down is normal with strength training, seeing an ongoing trend upward is a sign that it's more than the usual fluctuations that come from post-workout inflammation, water weight gain/loss, and hormone-related shifts.

    I think you're eating plenty of protein for your size. At 133 pounds and 25%-ish body fat, you're eating that 1g/pound LBM or even more. Upward of that is probably counterproductive. You might consider cycling intake/macros--eat more protein/carbs and more food in general on lifting days, less food and more fat on off days. A lot of people don't understand that fat is also important for recovery but can be consumed anytime rather than the benefits of eating some foods in the pre/post-workout window. More fat on off days might help with satiety and recovery. Don't gorge on it, but maybe have more avocado and fish that day and less meat and potatoes.

    You're not blowing it with the potatoes, IMO.

    2) The whole big = strong thing
    So how the heck does any of this work for women who get strong without getting big? Is there a really good resource out there about getting strong without mixing in all the nonsense about getting big? The whole Starting Strength thing is all "get big, drink a gallon of milk a day, big = strong, if you haven't gained 20lbs in 3 weeks you aren't doing the program" yadda yadda. Yeah, thanks, but I don't think it's like that for us.
    Yeah, it's totally not like that for us (well, most of us, some women do gain mass better than others). GOMAD is for skinny hardgainers. Most dudes want to add strength and size, and the milk thing helps them do that. The idea that a woman is going to add 20 pounds mostly of muscle in 3 weeks is ridiculous. Big does not always mean strong, even for dudes. Yes, there's a correlation between muscle mass and strength, but you can be hella strong and still not big. We see these photos of female heavyweight Olympic lifters and miss the fact that women in the lower weight categories are still astonishingly strong but quite small.

    My partner just did GOMAD for a few weeks after being really ill and losing 28 pounds in an insanely short period of time (and losing a lot of muscle mass). He put on 25 pounds in a hurry, most of it muscle but obviously a little fat too. If I tried that, I'd put on 20 pounds in a hurry too, but I can tell you that most of that wouldn't be lean mass. Sadly, it just doesn't work the same way for most women.

    3) High impact stuff
    Someone over on the SS forum suggested I add a finishing session after lifting. 3 or 4 sets of three exercises done to exhaustion, such as pushups, planks, snatches, situps, 100yd sprints. Anybody see any change in your fatness by adding this? How about regular sprints like Mark recommends, done all by themselves and not attached to the end of lifting, like on an off day? Will that be effective (remove this excess fat) or cause more harm than good (overtraining)?
    Conditioning does make a difference, and the research backs it up if you look at the results of studies on tabata protocols and other HIIT. I wouldn't necessarily do it the same day (I prefer to do mine separately), but doing sprints, hill running, tabatas, and the like will really help. One caveat--I really don't suggest doing leg-based HIIT the day before a heavy leg workout, so if you're going to deadlift the next day, you might want to consider whether doing a ton of hill sprints is a good idea.

    4) Doing other exercise?
    I go straight from the gym to my desk. I'll get up to use the rest room and then see suddenly how sore my workout made me. Sometimes going running at lunch helps loosen the stiffness but someone told me that will only make me fat and stressed. Okay, so what do I do not to end up permanently frozen and curled up with stiffness? What other exercise is safe to do on same or off days?
    Active recovery is a good thing. Don't go and do long, intense stuff, but going for a walk or a gentle run can be really helpful for me in loosening up. Biking (again, not super intense) can be good too. I also love my foam roller.

    5) Progressing
    I do my best to progress but sometimes I don't make it. So I repeat the same weight until I get it, then move up. I've ordered some washers for microloading, but so far slow like this is working okay. It took me 3 workouts of squats at 90lbs before I could do all my sets and reps without fucking them up somehow. Does anyone else do it that way? Is it okay for a woman to take progress slower, push forward a little less aggressively, or is that just wimping out?
    Again, the progress that a young dude sees is not going to be the same as a mature woman sees, so don't worry so much about what some guy on the SS forum is getting for progress. You're better off advancing more slowly and not hurting yourself. That doesn't mean you don't work hard and seek improvement; it means you accept that you are not a 20-year-old dude. The washers are a good idea and will come particularly handy on things like OH presses.

    6) Recovery
    The weekend is my longest consecutive days of not lifting. By Sunday night I almost feel worse than I did on Saturday, almost like the lifting got me jacked up with endorphins and anti-inflammatories and now they're wearing off and dang who kicked me in the stomach because I feel exhausted? Any advice there?
    How many days a week are you lifting? Your workouts sound like you're trying to incorporate a lot into your gym time, and if you're also doing 3-4 days per week, it might be that you're doing too much and overstressing your body. How long is an average gym session for you?

    I know your trainer showed you a whole lot of exercises, but as you get heavier on the lifts, you might consider doing one major lift and a couple of accessory lifts each session. Some people do squats and deadlifts in one session, but I don't--my legs need more recovery time than that, so I only do one or the other and they only come up every 4th day (so Monday's main lift might be squats, Wednesday would be OH press, Friday would be deadlifts in my schedule of every other day). You could probably still do deadlifts and bench or squats and presses in one day.

    And yeah, the second day after is almost always the worst for me. I did heavy squats yesterday, and I know they're going to show up when I get out of bed tomorrow morning.
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

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  9. #19
    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Owly.

    That trainer did show me a lot of exercises. I have cut down on most of them. I do basically the SS workout but add lat pulls, assisted pullups and DB rows if there is time. I haven't tried the power clean yet. Not sure what to do about that. Perhaps I'll just do lat pulls, assisted pullups and db rows the day you are supposed to do power cleans and not do them the other days.

    I haven't actually gained any weight, or more accurately, I haven't gained any size (I haven't actually weighed myself.) I'm the same as I've always been and possibly a little smaller in the waist.

    I seem to have a weakness for vegan desserts all of a sudden. But on non-lifting days I pretty much resume my normal appetite and am not particularly hungry.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

  10. #20
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    spuggygirl is offline Senior Member
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    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    My twopennies worth: if you can afford it, hire a trainer. I've been lifting for 3.5 months now - once a week with a trainer and twice alone in the gym - and have seen some huge results. I started off flabby and with wrecked knees from too much running - I couldn't even do a body weight squat to 1/3 distance without knee pain. In the last 3.5 months we've gone through a load of rehab stuff and lots of progressions until now my knees are totally fine (so that I can start running again, albeit gently...I know, I know, but I love it!) and I'm lifting weights heavier than any girls in my gym...and absolutely loving it! Originally, due to financial restraints, I had intended to work with the trainer just once or twice a month, but I get so much out of it and love it so much that it has become a priority for me and I see him every week.

    In terms of losing fat, I dropped my carbs and increased my fat intake about 6 weeks ago and saw myself very quickly dropping 10lbs of fat. My waist size has decreased and the fat around my upper body has reduced - I look more muscular and defined but less bulky than I did. My weightloss seems to have stalled for now - but I'm still losing inches, so am not particularly concerned.

    I also find that if I eat too many carbs I'm just hungry all the time. When I dropped carbs and increased fats I definitely found that the hunger went and I mostly went down to 2 meals a day with no snacks.

    You'll need to play about with your diet to find what works for you, but as for the lifting, I know that if it wasn't for my awesome trainer I'd still be messing around in the gym, not quite understanding how to progress and therefore not making any gains.

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