The purpose of this post is not only to celebrate women but also to send out a wake up call to all the men out there that are losing a grip on their role among the sexes. I should come as no surprise to any of us that the hallmark of being a “real man” has steadily lost its meaning and significance since it was first coined; long before I was born. In fact, this trend has led to a new generation of men that are, well, more like women.
This gender reversal has carried over to many all areas of our culture and not even the gym is exempt from its effects. As a personal trainer, there has been a major shift in the expectations I have in regard to fitness performance for men and women. I’ve used standards for years to give my clients a sense of how their results should correlate with respect to their age, gender, level of motivation etc.
The issue now is that my standards have to be re-written because I have women out-performing men of equal age and ability. I have an 88 year old lady as a client who can pull more weight than some of my 30 year old male clients. As well as a 72 year old women (with COPD) and severe osteoporosis that circuit trains at a pace that actually challenges some of the males I train who are supposed to be at the prime of their life. What’s worse is that if I share this information with these guys, how do they respond? Without any care or worry at all, that’s how. Where is the pride? The shame?
Now, if I told one of my female clients that another woman was out performing them, things are very different. These women will generally become so inspired by the competition that they not only rise to the occasion but obliterate the meagre expectations set forth by me. Gender is becoming a fleeting variable in my assumption of fitness levels.
If you look inside a gym nowadays you’ll still see some women wasting their time with uninspired routines and low effort levels, but a new breed has evolved and it’s taking over . . . I’m talking about the Super Woman! I personally know quite a few of these women and they masquerade as regular women most of the day: working and managing their families just like everyone else. But when they step into the gym they are transformed into a warrior, to be sacrificed on the fitness front lines for the greater good of their health and wellness.
They are always on time and they ask for no mercy, for their strength and fortitude is their salvation. The only thing that trumps their power is their humility. They do not recognize their own strengths and believe it is the responsibility of all sentient beings to be as strong and as fit as they can be.
Men can only yield to this type of raw energy as they have no answer to this shifting paradigm of what it means to be a women.
You know, as much as I love my mother, if she ever ran faster, jumped higher or lifted more weight than me, I would have a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately this is the case for many men my age. Mothers who are fitter than their sons. Oh the shame of it all. . . .
Of course not all women are Super Women. In fact most are not immune to traditional barriers and unfounded stigma that is still perpetuated in our society today. This doesn’t mean that it cannot be changed, but how do you do it? And what about the men? How can we reclaim our position on the fitness front lines alongside our women? Well this is not an easy answer, but if we know how the Super Women are doing it maybe we can draw some inspiration.
Most Superwomen understand a few basic principles that allow them to succeed with their fitness goals. Putting them into practice is the next step.
The Superwoman Philosophy In The Gym (and out of the gym too)
1. I believe weight training is important to health and sports performance.
You must believe in what you do for it to be truly productive. Most men have subscribed to this at an early age but many women still don’t grasp it.
2. My dietary intake will affect my performance and results.
Many women are deficient in iron and calcium which can greatly impact your fitness goals. Low iron can affect energy metabolism and oxygen transport, leading to a perception of chronic fatigue and low energy levels. It’s a good idea to include iron-rich foods into your diet,cooking with cast iron cookware and even using a good iron supplement to keep things in check. Low levels of calcium can predispose any age to bone loss. and degeneration calcium supplementation, when combined with weight training can dramatically improve bone density.
3. I know when to back off training.
It may be advisable to take an “unloading (or off) week” during your menstrual cycle since this when so much iron is lost. Although women have much lower testosterone levels than men, there is a peak period (about 12 days before ovulation) that could be used as a performance peaking period just before the unloading week.
4. I understand that I can’t “tone” my body.
Ineffective “firming and toning” routines have no basis in physiology, and the results obtained from them demonstrate this rather conclusively. You can either make a muscle larger or smaller. That’s it.
5. I do not have the same level of neuromuscular efficiency as men.
For the most part, men and women train the same way and respond accordingly. It is only the degree or magnitude of change that differs: mostly from differing hormonal profiles. This is why most men can add much more muscle relative to a women’s gains. Women do however, lift weights with less efficiency and may require more overall volume (sets or reps) to achieve maximum results.
6. My commitment to my health and fitness makes me a role model to my friends and family.
As with anything in life, with great ability comes great responsibility. Superwomen understand this and inspire everyone around them to realize their own potential.
7. I only get out of it, what I put into it.
Even the best programs fail if your motivation and effort is low. Just going through the motions will not cut it for optimal fitness gains. Always make sure you’re putting in 100% effort into every exercise. The gym is a sanctuary for sweat, hard work and challenge. You still have 23 other hours to take it easy.
Just by following some of these weight training guidelines for women, you’ll be well on your way to putting your mark on this world and be remembered for being one of the Superwomen!
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