Last week I wrote a post that seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of you, where I discussed whether lifting weights automatically makes you a tomboy. Given that I train people for a living, I thought it might be fun to talk about the differences I see in the way men and women work out.
Firstly, I personally train men and women no differently. Obviously taking into account previous experience and individual learning curves, I take all my clients through a more or less similar progression. We spend the bulk of the time on heavy compound lifts, but also perform mobility drills and the occasional high intensity cardio session.
Men usually have no problem with this approach, but women sometimes need a bit of coaxing. They assume that they need to spend the majority of the session on the treadmill. Once I explain to them how much more beneficial (and fun!) weight training is, they are usually happy to jump on board. If not, I send them elsewhere. I’m not afraid to give up a client if I think it’s going to be a constant battle to convince them of my training style.
During my sessions, I am a quietly demanding trainer. One of my clients has worked with more than 20 personal trainers in his life time but previously refused to hire a woman. However, my boss convinced him to give me a go… We have been happily training together for six months now! During our first session he told me he liked my approach: I expect people to push themselves, but I allow them to find their own motivation – I am not a drill sergeant screaming for ‘just one more!’
My male clients have learnt to know whether I am happy with their performance or not, purely based on the look on my face. They know it’s their responsibility to dig deep and push harder.
Female clients, on the other hand, generally need more validation. Women tend to constantly second-guess themselves and will often stop mid-set to ask if they are performing an exercise correctly.
I initially thought I enjoyed training men more, but now I love training women equally as much. All but a handful of my online clients are women, and I absolutely love working with them to make them strong and powerful.
In person, I love training men because they tend to be more competitive. When you tell a man you can outlift him on every exercise, it acts as a heck of a motivation for him to improve. One of my male clients is now lifting heavier than any other client we have in the gym, and he only started lifting six months ago (proud trainer moment!).
When I tell women how much I can lift, most just get wide-eyed and say they could never do the same. The satisfaction in seeing someone achieve something they never thought they could is awesome, but I think even more so for women.
Women constantly seem to put themselves down and come up with excuses as to why they ‘can’t’ do something. When you finally see a woman squatting or deadlifting her bodyweight, or performing unassisted chin-ups, it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment for you both. In general, I love seeing a woman kill it in the gym!
Of course, these are just generalisations – there are plenty of women who are competitive and want to out-lift the men in the gym (hello!!). My friend Meg shared this video the other day, which I thought was hilarious as I already seem to embody the male stereotype.
Do you train like a ‘man’ or a woman’?
PS. Make sure you check out my guest post on Donloree’s blog, where I talk all about tabatas! You can even win a free consultation with me 🙂