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34 Training Tips for Women

By Juggernaut | In Training | on January 10, 2014

Women face some unique training challenges when compared to their males counterparts. Making sure you take these tips into account will ensure that your female athletes are staying healthy, performing optimally and keeping motivated!

Chad Wesley Smith

1. Women respond to and need higher frequency training than men.

2. For beginner and intermediate female lifters, try bumping up the percentages 5% from what you would use for men.

3. When training female athletes (non-strength athletes) rep maxes in a slightly higher rep range (5-10 reps) are often more beneficial than the 1-5rm you may use with men.

New Juggernaut athlete, Reena Tenorio, is a Physical Therapist in addition to being an accomplished weightlifter and CrossFit competitor.

New Juggernaut athlete, Reena Tenorio, is a Physical Therapist in addition to being an accomplished weightlifter and CrossFit competitor.

Reena Tenorio 

4. Women are more prone than men to display valgus collapse with squats or heavy pulls from the floor, largely in part to the relative Q-angle differences. Use assistance/prehab exercises, such as resisted abduction (side steps with band around ankles) or body weight squats with a band around the knees as a cue to emphasize better tracking.

jts-store_03

Caitlyn Trout 

5. Women naturally tend to have upper back weakness and weak glutes/hips. To accommodate, throw in assistance work like a row variation for each training session (upper and lower sessions) and on lower days do assistance work like extra wide squats and hip thrusts.

6. When coaching a female, most respond best to positive reinforcement and encouragement, rather than just criticism. Try first pointing out what they did right and then follow it by stating what they need to improve on in a constructive manner.

CHECK OUT CAITLYN’S ARTICLE 5 REASONS WOMEN SHOULDN’T BE INTIMIDATED BY POWERLIFTING

Team Juggernaut’s multiple World Record holder, Caitlyn Trout, has quickly risen to be one of the best female powerlifters competing today!

Jacob Tsypkin 

7. Women can usually recover from high intensity training loads better than men can.

8. Many female athletes will do better with a very mild taper leading up to a competition.

9. Many female athletes will be likelier to hit PR or near PR lifts if their warm-up contains significantly more volume than would benefit most male athletes.

10. Male coaches: never be dismissive of a female strength athlete’s concerns about body image. It may seem silly to you, but it can be a serious issue to them, and if you care about their future in the sport, you should be there to listen and encourage, not to tell them that their worries are pointless.

11. Male coaches: female athletes are tougher than you think. Often tougher than the boys. Though a female athlete may show more emotion on the surface, that doesn’t mean she needs coddling. Respect her space and her need to vent, and she will come back strong.

12. Female athletes are often more prone to stability issues than male athletes are. Be sure that your female athletes do plenty of stabilizing prehab work for the hips and shoulders.

Marisa Inda

13. Post pregnancy training considerations usually involve time. New moms do better with shorter training sessions that ease them back in and help combat feelings of selfishness.

14. Women require a lot more focus on upper body strength since it’s typically lacking relative to the lower body, so don’t be shy with volume and frequency.

Learn more from Marisa, a STRONG and beautiful mother of two at her site BodyStrut.com

Learn more from Marisa, a STRONG and beautiful mother of two at her site BodyStrut.com

Zach Even-Esh

15. Don’t think that males and females need different exercises. Women and even teen female athletes can utilize squats, deadlifts, lunges, sleds, farmer walks, etc just like men can.

16. Women tend to respond better to a different coaching style then males. Less intensity and aggression and more encouraging of effort and proper technique.

 Corey Hayes

17. Confidence is usually a problem with beginning women. Use rep maxes to find maxes instead of singles early on so they don’t become discouraged. I usually will only have female clients hit a PR if I know they can do multiple reps with it.

18. Females typically have strong legs but weak upper bodies and poor leverages for the bench press. Remedy this with a lot of hypertrophy work and higher number of reps on pressing and rowing movements.

Dr. Quinn Henoch

19. We see a lot of anterior shoulder and SI pain. Seemingly due to joint laxity, rather than mobility restriction.

20. Less stretching and more cuff/scapular, and trunk stabilization. Especially post pregnancy

Ariel Stephens

21. If you are a male, coaching a female athlete and it happens to be “that time of the month”, know that things may be more difficult for your athlete. Be patient, understand that she will be more tired and that she may have more emotional responses to missed lifts. Talk to your athlete and find out her monthly schedule. Don’t make it awkward; It is part of coaching a female athlete.

22. As a female athlete who has trained through multiple menstrual cycles, it’s important to relax during training. Try to focus on getting extra sleep during this week, drinking plenty of water and take in more iron.

Ariel Stephens has come back strong from shoulder surgery, hitting a 102kg Clean & Jerk for a PR in her first meet back!

Brandon Lilly

23. Realize that what appears to be a ‘good’ day to a coach, will be awful to them. Women need CONSTANT reinforcement through improvement, and encouragement. It is far easier to have them do one more rep, or one more set than to always hit a max weight. Thats not to say they don’t need to lift heavy but it seems like one negative training day can spiral into several if you don’t catch it early.

Samantha Lower

24. Women tend to be quad dominate, with weaker hamstrings and glutes. This imbalance can lead to S.I. and low back issues if not addressed.

25. In regards to training during your menstrual cycle, with some women who are regular there will be a distinct week or few days, whether the week before, during, or after where she may physically be weaker and have hip/low back areas in pain. Certain exercises, such as lifts off the ground may have to be altered to be performed off the blocks instead to still get the work in. And with females who are not regular, it’s most likely because of a hormone imbalance rather than low body fat %, and then much harder to account for with programming her ‘bad week’ so best to be taken on a day to day week to week programming.

Newest Juggernaut athlete, Samantha Lower, is a 2x American Open champion and has competed internationally for Team USA.

Newest Juggernaut athlete, Samantha Lower, is a 2x American Open champion and has competed internationally for Team USA.

Nate Winkler

26. Females produce lower strength outputs than men, but have better ability to utilize body fat in fueling movements. Females have more sensitive endocrine systems and tend to respond more drastically,  from a metabolic/hormonal standpoint, to changes in caloric intake/nutrient timing. This demands more strict, consistent adherence to a nutrition plan for optimum performance / body composition.

27. High Protein, High Fat, High Nutrient, Water/herbal teas should comprise the basis of a effective female performance diet.

28. Smaller, more frequent low-carb meals that give the body a sense of fullness — this will improve metabolism by keeping leptin levels elevated as they lose body weight. Increasing meal number/water consumption will maintain blood pressure as they go into training — this keeps them from feeling lethargic. As training starts, 40-75g of low glycemic carbs work best (fruit/berries).

29. Only 1 carb-refeed is necessary every 48-72 hours during the mid day/evening hours.

30. Diets high in fat, fish, Vitamin D (supplements), zinc, chromium, and magnesium work best. These will improve endocrine function, glucose uptake, and insulin sensitivity while minimizing water retention.

31. Calories must remain high (2500-3500/day) and steady for females to feel/function right as they train and improve their physique.

32. Women should avoid all grains. Rice, quinoa and fruit should be their primary carb sources.

Colin Burns

33. Female athletes are easier to coach, technically. Take advantage of the fact that they take positive criticism far better then men, and more often without the ego.

34. Female athletes cry. This does not mean they are weak or broken. Some guys throw stuff, some girls cry. Some girls throw stuff and cry. Understand that this is just how some deal with things. It usually has zero impact on how hard they try or even the quality of training. Don’t draw excessive attention to it as if it is out of the ordinary.

 

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20 comments
IceBox03
IceBox03

To make a long story short, have been Powerlifting with a coach for about 6 months, he quit coaching. So we formed a women's Powerlifting team that he assisted us with, let us ask questions and so on, then he said we weren't allowed to do that anymore because we didn't know enough, so basically I'm now Powerlifting on my own. I don't have very much knowledge to do it on my own since I was coached before. My question is , what would be the better book to get, the juggernaut method 2.0 or Brandon lily ' s cube method?

FrankDiMeo
FrankDiMeo

Well-written and informative.

For quite a few years my gym mainly had women training there, and they trained hard!

Jocelyn07
Jocelyn07

I thought women were for cookin the dinner and makin the babies.

oyvey
oyvey

Some of these are great, some of these are rather sexist.

Judy
Judy

LOVE 11 and 34. My husband doesn't understand this but it's so true.

Dan
Dan

Great list! Could you recommend a basic program for women who are looking to start strength training? What do you think about using a program like Rippetoe's Starting Strength for women?

gwenncase
gwenncase

Questions about 26 through 32, particularly the avoidance of all grains excepting quinoa and rice, with fruit as an additional carb...whats wrong with oats, been utilizing that staple since I began with a trainer...

allthewaydoc
allthewaydoc

some great info here.  several things I didnt know about my body and now will try work on!  thanks!

Ncanon
Ncanon

Good stuff!  26-32 are incredibly stupid, but the rest are awesome.  Good to see some honest and USEFUL tips for working with women, both advantages and disadvantages, that all coaches should keep in mind!

Chad Wesley Smith
Chad Wesley Smith

@Dan SS is a solid beginner program, I think that women, and all beginners for that matter, need more volume/frequency aka practice and that the Inverted Juggernaut Method protocol in The Juggernaut Method 2.0 would be a better option, but hey, I may be biased. 

Chris55555555
Chris55555555

Agreed. Can't generalise half the species to a specific diet.

Chad Wesley Smith
Chad Wesley Smith

@Ncanon Do you have a rationale behind your statement about 26-32?

Ncanon
Ncanon

@Chad Wesley Smith Certainly- several of these are simply rather specific diet ideas that have nothing to do with women in particular- he provides no rationale as to why WOMEN in particular do better on infrequent carb refeeds or how, magically, magnesium prevents water retention in females.  He's also not particularly informed on what constitutes a grain, as both rice and quinoa ARE grains.  So while women specifically should avoid grains (why??), apparently grains should make up the majority of their carbs.

Also, apparently, regardless of size 2500-3500 calories is the sweet spot?

It's just unfortunate- the majority of recommendations here are excellent, and tailored specifically to working with women.  That particular portion seemed to be just a way for the author to espouse a specific form of diet, with no explanation or even logical reasoning explaining why these recommendations apply to women.  


Don't get me wrong, LOVED this piece, as I do work with a number of female athletes and these are GREAT things to keep in mind- I was just a little surprised to see that segment.  :)

Ncanon
Ncanon

@ROIDRAGE @Nate Winkler Or mean that I'm about to write fifty sentences that look like they're something a charlatan like Kiefer would write...

KristinLaineNewman
KristinLaineNewman

@Ncanon @Chad Wesley Smith 


I actually came down here to say basically the same thing. As a female athlete I feel that Nate is pretty off-base in these assertions. 

Keith Washington
Keith Washington

Thanks, Mr Winkler for your reply.  This was very informative to a personal trainer/strength coach like myself.  Some things I knew, but plenty I did not.  Thanks again!!

Nate Winkler
Nate Winkler

@Ncanon @Chad Wesley Smith  


Let's take into consideration the premise of this article — these are tips and by definition are not accompanied by rationale and long explanations. 


These tips were asked to be given because of my experience and based on proven results with of top athletes and nearly millions of online followers — I was hoping these tips would be taken as an opportunity for people like yourself to critically examine your own approach and improve. But because people like yourself would prefer to insult rather than research on your own to verify these tips, I will explain them so no one can leave this article thinking that my methods are unfounded. 


1. Females produce lower strength outputs than men — that's a fact. No female sport has come close to producing the records/strength levels that are seen in male endeavors. This does not mean that their sports are not as entertaining, or that their physical accomplishments are not to be appreciated. It does however have massive implications from a nutritional standpoint. 


Females produce less testosterone, and power — resulting in lower glycolytic demands and therefore demanding less carbohydrate consumption. Because of the reduced exertion, females experience less GLUT 4 translocation than men, meaning that post training carbohydrate volume should be adjusted accordingly (lowered) — if there are fewer GLUT transporters moving to the edges of the muscle cells (which happens as a result of forceful contractions) then carbs are more likely to go into fat cells as well, which causes water retention (one reason my tips will 'magically' reduce water retention). 


Because of the diminished 'training metabolic shift' seen in women, and for many other factors (have you ever studied the monthly progesterone/FSH/Estrogen/Testosterone cycle in women?!)— their endocrine systems are more fragile than their male counterparts. When men train at high %'s this induces muscle cell sensitivity for 48-72 hours. In a normal training week, men will experience fantastic blood sugar maintenance and will clear insulin from their blood streams much more quickly than women. Because women do not enjoy the muscle cell sensitivity men do, insulin remains in the blood stream longer, and has a MUCH larger impact on them and therefore their endocrine systems. Have you ever even looked at ALL the pathways insulin controls — adrenal, neural, glucose uptake, immune system, thyroid, auto-immune etc? 


It would seem fitting then, that if women are more susceptible to insulin resistance issues, consuming carbs that induce a smaller insulin release or making the body more sensitive to insulin (by extending the time periods between carbohydrate consumption) would be advantageous. Right?  That is why I recommended low glycemic carbs that are better digested and induce a smaller insulin spike than 'heavier/more dense' carbs. 


And yes, because of the reasons I listed above, women will need to adhere, more strictly to a nutrition plan in order to achieve their performance/body composition goals than men. 


2. In particular, women should consume more fats (percentage wise) than men. It's that simple. If they aren't consuming as high a percentage of carbohydrates, where else are they going to get a calorically dense meal? 



3. Women should avoid grains, I should have been more specific and said 'modern' grains, but did not anticipate such scrutiny over semantics. Rice and Quinoa are ancient crops, and modern grains, wheat, flour, corn, etc have been infused with gluten — something that no human digests well. Women will experience digestive issues with gluten, including leaky gut, pairing this with a culture who pushes women to consume fewer calories will leave them feeling lethargic. Poor nutrient levels combined with poor absorption (caused by modern grains) leads to the binge eating often characteristic of females in developed countries. Therefore, women tend to do very well with rice (spleen tonic), quinoa, and fruits (berries/banana) —  I'm sure you've seen this as in your 'experience'. 


4. If women aren't training as hard as men, from a strength output standpoint, then they need fewer carbs than men. If they aren't as sensitive to insulin as men (who train) are, how else do you recommend increasing sensitivity to insulin other than increasing the amount of time between carbohydrate servings? If there is not as high a level of glycolytic demand from their training, then the existing carbs in their system will remain intact longer, thus requiring fewer carb servings. Fewer carb servings increase the amount of time the body is using fat to fuel the metabolic processes, which implies more fat burn, which implies better body composition, which implies a happier, more confident female who is willing to eat what her body is telling her to eat rather than starving herself — I'm sure you've seen this as well in your 'experience'.


5. Healthy fats improve endocrine function, brain function, and energy. Vitamin D is responsible for 100's of bodily processes and we can't make this vitamin, we must ingest it. Zinc, Chromium, and Magnesium, specifically, improve glucose uptake, something that's very lacking in females, that will improve overall energy. Most importantly, when the body is properly absorbing glucose, processed carb cravings will decrease and females will enjoy improved blood sugar control. Improved blood sugar maintenance will reduce unnecessary cravings, which will reduce unnecessary insulin spikes and now we're back to what I stated previously. 


A diet high in fats, low in gluten, and containing the other methods outlined above will reduce inflammation and reduce fat cell nutrient storage — resulting in reduced water retention (not exactly 'magic' after all).



6. Calories must remain high for many reasons, and yes, in my experience 2500-3500 cal/day is the sweet spot depending on size/activity levels (remember, this article is written to 300,000 people, not the 5-10 athletes you've worked with in your career). Cutting calories drops strength potential and after a week will cause metabolism to plummet. Cutting calories causes leptin levels to drop in your body, your brain interprets this signaling as a threat to survival and communicates to your thyroid to reduce your overall metabolism (lower T3 hormone) and increase hunger. The result, reduced strength (lower energy, less lean body mass, reduced testosterone production) and increased junk food consumption due to internal 'panic' response. Cutting calories is not the answer, you will need to unlearn this myth our society had fed you — a society who's the fattest in the history of mankind, by the way.



So, as you can see, each short tip was backed by years of research, experimentation, and successful practice. We were trying to keep the article as short and impactful as possible in order to help our readers quickly gather information to help them with their training/life and move on with it. Please reconsider next time you refer to one of Juggernaut's carefully evaluated coaches as 'stupid'. I hope you can incorporate this rationale into your methods moving forward, your clients would greatly appreciate it. 


— Nate Winkler 


Judy
Judy

Couldn't agree more.

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