Ultimate Guide to Women’s Fitness



women's fitnessAre you a woman who wants to be lean, still have some curves, and get thin but not too skinny? Today we’ll show you how.

Women’s fitness is a slightly different animal than men’s training. So how can you get this ideal physique?

A lot of experts push for cutting calories down majorly and hopping on that treadmill. These so-called experts also push for the perfect weight for dumbbells, because we don’t want to get too bulky.

If you’ve given this a try, you probably already know that this isn’t going to give you the results you want when it comes to women’s fitness. Plus, it isn’t going to work in the long haul and you might actually be doing more harm than good.

Is there a secret to getting to the best body you can imagine? What does it take for you to get that lean, athletic, yet strong body? Today we’re talking women’s fitness tips, and we’ll tell you our favorites.

It probably comes at no surprise that all the popular diet trends and advice with training for women is actually what you shouldn’t be doing.

For one, do you know why why steady cardio fails you?

There are endless so-called experts in women’s fitness, but many of them are giving the wrong advice.

For example, these experts focus on a steady-pace and hardcore cardio routine, only doing light weightlifting, longer workout sessions for both weightlifting and cardio, having a diet that’s low in both carbs and protein, and outlawing specific types of food.

The problem with this regimen is that you’re essentially burning the candle at both ends. You’re looking for a fit body, but restricting the nutrients required to obtain it. Long cardio sessions will leave you tired, but will they really do you any good? Maybe not. Today we’ll get into what you’re missing.

Women’s Fitness Myths

One of the most common myths is that you’re limited by your body type. You can always improve, it’s just a question of what tactics make the best workout for your body.

Cutting down on calories and mixing in an overabundance of cardio is going to get rid of fat – but also muscle. Muscle if what give your metabolism the power it needs, and helps keep your body in shape and defined.

To get started, do you know how to measure body fat? You can also start with taking body measurements.

Let’s say a woman with not much muscle has 15% body fat. That’s going to look a lot different on how versus a woman with more defined muscles. The first woman is probably going to have that skinny-fat look, while the other is going to look like Beyonce.

It’s never a question of if you should have muscles. It’s just a matter of how much. How curvy do you want your body to be? How much of a “ripped” look do you want?

This is called body composition – cutting down on the amount of fat you have in your body and working on increasing the muscle amount. When you do this healthily and correctly, the end result is going to be jarring.

Something you need to realize is this: You have to be lean in order to get that athletic shape and the definition that goes along with it. So what exactly is the safest and healthiest way to make this happen?

Your goal should be to simultaneously build muscle while losing fat. The way we do this, is cutting unnecessary calories and focusing on high value nutrient dense meals that support protein synthesis.

Keys to Women’s Fitness

The first key to fit female bodies is to have a fairly low fat percentage. This should be under 20%. You should also plan to have enough muscle to produce the Beyonce-like butt every girl wants, and have a flat lean stomach, with toned legs and sculpted arms.

A lot of women don’t realize that how much leanness is required, and muscle. One way to support your goals here is to keep a steady supply of muscle building snacks. These will help you feel full and avoid impulse eating.

For a majority of women’s fitness seekers, this means losing around 10 pounds of fat and then replacing that fat with muscle. We get this might seem strange – lose weight just to gain It again. And it requires patience – losing 10 pounds of fat might only take a couple of months but getting that back in muscle could take up to a year.

There’s a key to getting rid of fat without losing the muscle you have.

You probably guessed that cutting back on your body fat percentage comes from your diet. If you eat less calories than what you burn in a day, you’re going to lose fat. There’s a correct way to do this and a not-so-correct way to do this.

One thing you’ll need to conquer: fighting food cravings.

Basic weight loss 101: eating less calories (aka energy) than what you burn in a day is going to have some serious loss in muscle. Plus, you aren’t going to feel great. What you need to do is eat enough food to make you feel good and get you through your workouts. During this time, you also want to make sure you’re in some kind of caloric deficit, so you can lose about a pound of fat each week.

Balanced protein-rich meals with no refined starches or sugars will support muscle growth and keep you feeling full.

There are a few different ways to calculate your caloric deficit on the road to women’s fitness glory. As far as macronutrients, you can aim for eating 1.2 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight each day.  Also aim for 1 gram of carb for every body pound, and anywhere from .2 to .25 grams of fat for every pound.

For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you’re going to want to start off with upwards of 180 grams of protein, 150 grams for carbs and 30 grams of fat. That’s about 1,600 calories. As you go on you can adjust as you see fit.

This might seem like a lot of protein when you start to translate this to food. The best advice we can provide here is to keep a lean, clean whey protein supplement handy to accomplish your goals.

Once you’ve got that down, you will see progress in terms of building muscle.

women's fitness

Women’s Fitness and Building Muscle

There’s a reason why so many people lift weights – it works. And you don’t want to just lift weights. You want to focus on lifting heavy weighs. Men’s and women’s fitness goals need weightlifting as a component to build muscle.

And yes, before you can say anything, women should be lifting heavy weights. It isn’t going to make you bulky. In fact, it’s pretty hard for women to get to that over inflated look. So you can relax.

This is because testosterone, which is the hormone that regulates the growth in your muscles, is a lot lower in women’s bodies than men. In fact, women only have about 5 to 10% of what men have. So you really don’t need to worry about getting too big.

When it comes to weightlifting, the key thing to keep in mind is that visibly, it isn’t going to help you at all if your body percentage is too high.

If you start lifting weights and your body fat percentage is around 25%, yes you’re going to build muscle, but you’re going to look bigger. And this is a mistake that a lot of people make when it comes to weightlifting and women’s fitness.

So again, get your body fat percentage under 20% before you start lifting. It’s a sure-fire way to give you the results you want when you’re seeking women’s fitness.

To achieve a visibly toned, muscular physique, women should aim to keep body fat below 20%.

Also, keep in mind that building muscle and lifting weights can go way behind just your physical appearance. The University of Texas conducted a study based on what happens to your body when you lift weights on a regular basis. First of all, the likelihood of you developing certain diseases, including cancer and diabetes are significantly reduced.

That’s pretty major huh?

In addition, your bones get a lot stronger and your metabolism is going to speed up, which is going to help you stay thin. All of this, plus you’re bulletproofing your immune system and increasing your life expectancy. Pretty sweet deals that come along with all the other benefits of an awesome physique.

Like we said earlier, you want to aim for heavy weightlifting. By this, we mean working more towards the limits of your strength. So, when you go for sets of 8, this should be with a weight that you can’t perform more than 10-12 reps at.

This type of progressive overload is critical to getting your physique on track. After all, it keeps your muscles growing.

Even though we’re talking women’s fitness, so called “manly” exercises, like the Romanian deadlifts, barbell lunges and barbell squats can payoff huge dividends. Do the barbell lunges for your butt and legs, and switch to deadlifts and barbell rows for your back and arms. You can also switch to the dumbbell and barbell curls to focus on just your arms.

Remember, it’s incredibly important that you refuel your body after weightlifting. This is why you should bring a whey protein shake with you to the gym to get it into your body within 30 minutes of finishing your training.

Women’s Fitness and Cardio: What You Might Be Doing Wrong

Next, we’re going to talk about cardio and women’s fitness. Did you think you were getting out of this one? Well, actually we aren’t going to overload it like all the so-called experts seem to do these days. Cardio isn’t equally needed for weight loss until you’re gotten lean and need to get even more lean; however, with that being said, it does help quicken things up a bit.

The first thing we need to be clear about is that steady cardio fails you for women’s fitness.

The best kind of cardio you can do for weight loss is known as HIIT. This ‘high intensity interval training’ is the most successful. Here’s how it works – you do shorter sprints but you go all out. Then you have 1 to 2 minutes of a lower intensity to give your body the chance it needs to recover. As you go on, you switch back and forth between the high intensity, and then the lower intensity.

This means that while you rest from one movement, you’re working another.

There’s a ton of evidence that proves HIIT is the way to go for women’s fitness and men’s. When you do a lower-intensity activity, like taking a walk, this taps into fat stores. But when you do a higher intensity activity, like sprinting, your body ends up pulling a lot deeper and heaver into carb stores. When you’re going at 60% of your total maximum exertion, your body gets half of the energy it needs from carbs stored up and the other half from fat stores.

What’s even better? Your body continues to burn fat long after HIIT ends–for up to 12 more hours!

Now, with just this info in mind, you might think we’re headed to squash the steady-pace cardio debate. But we aren’t done yet.

Here’s the first problem – the total amount of calories that are burned while you’re exercising. Let’s say you take a walk and you burn off 100 calories. Well, if 85 of that comes from fat stores, it isn’t going to be as effective as doing a 200-calorie burning running session, when 100 of that would come from fat. On the other hand, if you do sprinting intervals that burn off around 500 calories, that running session isn’t going to be as great as this sprinting, which will get about 150 coming form fat.

But burning calories isn’t the entire picture here.

women's fitness

Women’s Fitness and the Science Behind HIIT

There have been countless women’s fitness studies from numerous universities, like Laval, East Tennessee, Baylor College of Medicine and New South Wales that prove shorter but higher intensity workouts result in much greater losses of fat over time.

For women’s fitness and men’s, interval training should really include a mix of lifting and running. However, studies that examined even just combing sprinting and walking prove that this method is better than steady cardio.

The University of Western Ontario had a group of 10 men and 10 women train three times a week. One group was focusing in doing 4 to 6 30-second treadmill sprints. In between each rep, there was a 4 to 6 minute resting period. The other group was doing 30 to 60 minutes of steady-pace cardio. This means they were running on the treadmill at the “fat loss zone” pace for that long. Definitely sounds like they got the short end of the stick.

After doing this for 6 weeks (and the second group somehow not dying of boredom), the group doing the intervals lost a lot more fat. Pretty amazing if you think about it.

The study proved that performing shorter sprints ended up burning a ton more fat than a total of an hour on an incline treadmill. That’s mind blowing – and it might also be frustrating if you’re one of those people who spend hours on the treadmill.

The scientists from this project were able to determine a few different things. First, they found that the group that did the intervals had an increase in their resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the exercise ended. They also saw an improvement in insulin sensitivity in the muscles, as well as higher levels of fat oxidation.

It offered a few more perks for women’s fitness too.

There was definitely a spike in growth hormone levels, which help with fat loss. There was also a pretty noticeable different in the group’s appetite following the workout. Needless to say, all of these benefits make HIIT the cardio exercise you want to go for. After all, if running on the treadmill for an hour isn’t going to do the trick, what’s the point in wasting your time?

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To sum it up, HIIT is the best way to get your body fat percentage down while also building muscle and achieve the goals of peak women’s fitness. Your first step, as we said, is to get that body fat down. After that, any weight you gain is going to be muscle, as long as you incorporate the exercises and weightlifting we mentioned above. Remember to focus on body recomposition, not on the numbers on the scale.

And don’t forget your whey protein if you want to reach your macronutrient goals! This is the best way to avoid unnecessary foods. Ample protein and a balanced diet along with keeping your calorie intake in check will allow you to displace fat with fitness and keep you ahead of the game in women’s fitness.

-Terry Asher

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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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