Should women train differently than men?
If you’re a Strength Coach, pay attention.
For my Guy readers, please forward this to your lady friends. (BIG thanks in advance for sharing!)
Being a Dad, I pay a LOT of attention as to what will help my daughter achieve BIG success in all areas of LIFE. To say that my daughter IS my life would be an understatement.
I want to know What will help her feel confident and inspired to make a BIG difference in this world?
I want to know What will empower her to believe AND achieve?
After 6 years of running The Underground Strength Coach Certification, I have noticed time and again how women are afraid to stand UP and achieve success.
They lack confidence in themselves and the belief that they can kick ass and take names. They worry about what others will say if they are embracing strength, success and beauty.
When it comes to achieving Success of ANY kind, your mindset MUST be in the Right place.
If you’ve read my story before, you know how I struggled to achieve success when I was younger in large part due to my mindset. Mindset is THE ticket.
Back in the day….. My mindset, my self beliefs – they held me back BIG time.
Understanding the power of the mind is critical. You’ve likely been there before yourself, where your mindset held you back.
I am psyched to share this article by Neghar Fonooni, a legit fitness expert, RKC II, Veteran of The US Military and all around bad ass Coach and great person, as she details how women need to think (and how Strength Coaches can better Understand & help women) to achieve more success in fitness and LIFE.
If your a Strength Coach, this is a Great learning opportunity with Powerful insight into the mindset of women and how you can better empower them to achieve more success with your training / coaching.
Dudes…. please share this with your lady friends. BIG thanks in advance for sharing.
I’ll let Neghar take it from here….
When it comes to fitness and nutrition coaching, one of the topics that often seems to come up on my radar is this:
“What’s the best way to train women? Should we be training women differently that men?”
Allow me to get real for a moment: Do we have the same skeletal and muscular makeup? Sure.
Can we train men and women mostly the same and get optimal results? Of course.
Now, can there be nuances that make training programs more effective for women? Absolutely.
But sets, reps, and periodization aren’t really the major differentiating factors to our approach when it comes to the female sex.
The truth is that the most important thing we can consider while coaching women doesn’t involve their bodies it all.
In fact, the most integral difference starts with what goes on inside their heads.
While working out and eating a nourishing diet are indubitably the building blocks of a healthy, lean, fit body, they aren’t actually the driving force behind said body: they’re simply tools.
What truly drives healthy endeavors and allows our female clients to live a sustainably fit lifestyle is their mindset.
Mindset is what establishes how we perceive our world–the stories we tell ourselves, and the way we choose to interpret events. And the stories that we tell ourselves—they are very powerful, indeed.
I know this firsthand, as my own journey towards self-love and body acceptance was at times dark and lonely.
When I was in my dark place, I worked out 2 hours a day and counted every single calorie.
I weighed myself daily and derived a sense of worth from that number.
I thought, if I work harder and get leaner, then I’ll be happier. If I can make my body more aesthetically appealing, then I will love myself.
If I can maintain 12% bodyfat, then my boyfriend won’t cheat on me. If I can look like a figure competitor, then I’ll never be unhappy with myself ever again! I went so far down this if/then rabbit hole that I’m legitimately surprised to have escaped it.
Inevitably, I wasn’t able to keep up this lifestyle, because what I was pursuing wasn’t fulfilling, and the way that I spoke to myself wasn’t nurturing in the least.
I told myself the story that I wasn’t enough—skinny enough, strong enough, or successful enough. I’d look in them mirror and point out all of my flaws.
The phrase “I can’t eat that” escaped my lips so many times, that my friends stopped inviting me to happy hours and social engagements.
They said they didn’t want to “mess up my diet.” It hurt to hear that, but in truth they were only doing what I taught them to do—removing temptations unless it was my cheat day (which happened to be Saturday at the time).
I constantly spoke negatively about my body (to myself and to others), chastising myself for every perceived failure, and partaking in a vicious cycle of binge, berate, restrict, repeat.
The truth was, I didn’t love who I was, and no amount of leanness or calorie restriction would change that.
What I would eventually discover is that true contentment comes from a place of self-love and compassion.
Lifting and eating nutritiously are only sustainable if you do it because you love your body, not because you hate it.
When you know, with the utmost certainty, that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be-only then can you begin your journey to the highest expression of you.
Only then will fitness enrich your life, as opposed to detract from it.
Through practicing positive self-talk, daily compassion journaling, and utilizing my supportive social network, I was able to climb out of that rabbit hole, and arrive at a place of acceptance and grace.
Self-talk, both positive and negative, is a very powerful thing. Our self-talk determines many of our actions, and our reality is largely based on how we think.
As Shawn Achor, author of the bestselling book, Before Happiness says:
“…before happiness and success comes your perception of the world. So before we can be happy and successful, we need to create a positive reality that allows us to see the possibility for both.”
Create a positive reality–meaning that we actually have the power to construct and actualize the world we live in (to a point, obviously).
Achor goes on to say that at any given time we are faced with multiple realities that are all true, but not all of which will propel us into our most successful, happy selves.
The successful, happy person is one who has developed the skill to see the most valuable reality in any given situation.
Basically, we get to choose.
We get to choose how we speak to ourselves, how we view situations, and how we handle stress.
We get to choose if we will see our obstacles as useful and character building, or if we allow them to hinder us.
We get to choose if we will speak to our bodies in a loving manner, and decide if we will find success as it pertains to our fitness endeavors.
It’s all up to us, and our mindset.
So how is this choice and the subject of mindset any different for women than it is for men?
For a harrowing dose of reality, take these findings from a study Dove conducted in 2004:
– Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful
– Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as beautiful
– 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
– 80% of women agree that every woman has something beautiful about her but do not see their own beauty
– More than half of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst critic
When I read research like this, it just breaks my heart.
As a leading woman in fitness I’ve made it my personal mission to help women everywhere discover their worth, and find empowerment through strength.
I want my clients to live a vibrant, wholehearted life, and I want their fitness and nutrition efforts to add to their lives, not subtract from them. I want them to love their bodies NOW, not 10 pounds from now.
But it’s not as simple as telling our female clients to “choose” to love themselves, and choose to adopt a different view of their bodies and their environments.
We have to teach strategies for sustainable success, and encourage constant practice of compassion and acceptance.
It’s not enough to train their bodies, when their minds are their biggest barrier.
A women’s greatest asset to her fitness goals is the belief that she is enough. Right now. No matter what.
When I look at the current state of the fitness industry, I don’t see a lot of coaches encouraging self-love.
I don’t see a lot of coaches telling clients they have permission to love their bodies through the transformation.
I see fitness being marketed through sex, pain, and bullying.
I see programs claiming to get women shredded, because only then will they be sexy.
I see the fitness industry contributing to the problem.
We aren’t selling self-love and body-acceptance because it isn’t sexy. We aren’t selling it because it’s not formulaic and it takes more work. We aren’t selling it because it isn’t catchy, so instead we sell body shaming.
Even when we think we are building up the idea of a fit, muscular, strong body and changing the rhetoric, such as touting phrases like “strong is the new skinny,” we are still contributing to a “never enough” mentality.
We may have changed the dialogue from skinny and emaciated to lean and muscular with that movement, but we’re still telling women they aren’t the right body type unless they’re shredded.
But we can sell body-love. We can encourage women to cultivate a life in which they train because they love their bodies, not because they hate them.
As I said, it’s not as simple as telling them to choose to love themselves, but planting the seed is the start.
Giving them permission, as their coaches, to embrace their bodies, and helping them believe that it’s possible—that’s where it all begins.
Studies show that if we don’t believe we have at least a 70% chance of success, our chances of actual success diminish drastically.
That means that if we want to be stronger, leaner, faster, fitter, if we want to transform our bodies–we have to first believe that it’s possible.
And before we can believe that it’s possible, we have to believe that we are worthy and deserving of success.
Think about it: have you ever had clients who set out to lose weight, gain strength, or change their eating habits, only to discover that they’ve ended up right back where they started?
Have you had clients who yo-yo’d constantly, fell off the wagon, and couldn’t stay compliant no matter how hard they tried.
It’s not because you gave them the wrong program or they didn’t try hard enough.
It’s not because you’re not a talented and educated coach.
It’s not because they don’t want to change or they aren’t capable of adopting new habits.
Rather it’s more likely that they weren’t nurturing the types of thoughts that would support their endeavors.
If you want lasting change, you have to start with mindset.
And how do we shift mindset?
With daily, focused practice. It’s not as simple as believing; you can’t just believe things into existence.
You can, however, practice developing a positive mindset every single day. You can incorporate strategies into your life, little by little, that encourage the type of mindset that will propel you into genuine success.
I encourage my clients to journal daily, including things they are grateful for (external world) and compassion for themselves (internal world).
They’re constantly tasked with giving themselves compliments, eliminating negative words, and aligning their actions with their purpose.
It’s a daily practice, that when honed regularly, becomes a habit. Meaning that the more they speak to themselves positively, believe they can accomplish their fitness goals, and choose a valuable reality, the more likely they are to find continued success.
In an experimental comparison conducted at UC Davis, researchers found that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles and negative or neutral life events.
That’s on a weekly basis; imagine what would happen if your clients kept a gratitude journal every day?
Now, this is just one strategy to start developing a positive mindset–a mindset that will actually help our clients learn to love and care for their bodies, and live a sustainably healthy lifestyle.
But it’s a strategy with the power to incite very meaningful change, and one that will help them discover other ways they can create a positive reality for themselves.
In fact, it’s one of the major tenets of my Lean & Lovely transformation system, and has helped women all over the world take a more loving and sustainable approach to fitness.
Whatever strategies you choose to teach your clients, I hope that you’ll do so with this in mind: We have a unique opportunity to change the way women everywhere view their bodies, and be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Women are ready for change.
Ready to believe that they’re enough, right now.
Ready to transform, but still love themselves through the process.
Ready to stop comparing themselves to other women with different body types or to airbrushed images on the internet.
And I think we can be a major part of that change.
Hey, Zach here again.
I hope you learned a lot from this article from Neghar. I’m psyched to share more info on the regular for the ladies and for the Strength Coaches who work with women.
Like I said before, as a father of an awesome girl who owns my heart, it’s important to me to share more info for the ladies.
For more info on Neghar and her training that centers around overall fitness for mind and body with ass kicking Bodyweight and Kettlebell workouts, Click Here.