Today I want to share with you the ultimate 12 fitness tips for women. These tips range from lifting heavy weights, eating a high protein diet, increasing intensity, focussing on form/execution, smart supplementation, taking rest days/sleep seriously, and more. These tips are aimed at encouraging fitness no matter what one’s previous experience with training has been. Following these tips will guarantee that we, as women, are developing our physiques to their maximum potential. Whether our goal is to build muscle or lose fat, you can benefit from adopting a few or all of these to get to your goals!
Tip #1: Do not be afraid of lifting heavy!
As women, we have been programmed to lift lighter weights and avoid the heavy weights to remain feminine, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Women’s bodies consist of it’s own uniquely beautiful musculature for a reason, it is not something that we should shy away from developing. Women do no’t even produce as much testosterone as men, this means that her likelihood of developing masculine features is quite low. Additionally, gaining muscle is difficult for men as well regardless of their genetic advantage (having more testosterone). With that in mind, check out this post on how bodybuilding actually creates feminine curves. Check out this post to find out how our female fat distribution differs largely from a guys’ fat distribution. In any case, putting on muscle has both aesthetic and scientifically proven health benefits that we do not want to miss out on! It is important to remember that we do not get stronger overnight, it is aiming to get stronger that will always be the driver towards our best bodies. Remain process-oriented with your strength, it will be so worth it!
Tip #2: Eat enough calories and prioritize protein
Muscles need protein in order to grow to their full potential! One cannot grow muscle while eating at a calorie deficit. This means that we have to, as women, unlearn diet-culture related myths and the fear of bulking up. We must instead redirect our focus towards consuming a high-protein and nutrient-rich diet. We must eat at a slight calorie surplus if our goal is to grow muscle and transform our physiques. We therefore have to get accustomed to eating more healthy calories, and adjust if the calories are resulting in unwanted fat gain. While the prospect of gaining some weight may worry some, building muscle simply is not possible without eating at a small surplus. Do not fret, if you find that your surplus is leading to fat gain, immediately readjust and tweak your calories, we are trying to find that sweet spot! As a rule of thumb, we should aim to eat at least 30 grams of protein per meal in order to optimize/maximize muscle growth. If one is a vegan, check out this post on building muscle while on a vegan diet!
Tip #3: Increase intensity for better results
As mentioned above, we need to unlearn the fear of becoming bulky and masculine. Simply, more work at the gym equals better results. Do not be afraid of pushing yourself and supersede your own limits, your body will develop in a way that is naturally aesthetic. “During the bulking phase where the focus is muscle growth, the desired result during training sessions is muscle fatigue and, ultimately, muscle failure. Pushing a muscle group to failure will promote muscle fiber remodeling and lead to hypertrophy.”
This does not mean we have to push ourselves all of the time, however, we should not remain stagnant with our progress. Check out this post on accountability to see how developing this trait along with journalling and keeping track of training/food can allow us to reach our best physiques! The worst thing that we, as women, can do is limit ourselves by choosing the lighter weights. The second worst thing is aiming to limit our own performance by reducing intensity/aggressivity/ugly-grunts so that we can look attractive at the gym. “At a cellular level, male and female muscles are exactly the same, which means if you are looking to build muscle, you need to constantly challenge yourself and push yourself in the gym.” Rest assured, most people are focussed on themselves and their own workouts to focus on how pristine we look after training.
Tip #4: Have a weekly focus on form/execution of the same exercises
Find a program that focuses on lower body compound lifts. This program ideally would prioritize compound lifts like squats, lunges, deadlifts, hip thrusts, etc. On a weekly basis, you want to aim to get stronger at every one of those exercises. We must therefore focus on the form and execution so that we can add more over time. A practical example of this is getting stronger at the squat on a weekly basis, we must make sure that we are practicing it properly with all the correct cues in place. If we fast forward to a few months, our intentional process of getting stronger at this one lift is going to yield both physique and strength gains. To conclude, keeping our training deliberate and intentional by focusing on form and choosing compound lifts will allow us to achieve the physiques that we desire. This is instead of choosing random exercises on a weekly basis and changing our program according to changing fitness trends.
Tip #5: Take rest days seriously
When we are targeting our muscles at the gym, we start breaking them down so that they can eventually repair themselves and become bigger. They can only repair themselves and become bigger when they are rested, otherwise, they would not have the proper environment to grow. Think about how we need 8 hours to sleep to function at our optimal selves, the same concept applies to our muscles. Therefore it is crucial to take our rest days seriously, check out this post on active recovery to find out more about how we can optimize our rest days for better physique development. Other factors to consider are stress reduction methods, taking massages and having mental breaks from our training. I personally take two rest days per week and make sure to really lean into that passive (being) energy. As a woman, I find that my body personally benefits off of simply being and can really help me next week’s training sessions more efficiently!
Tip #6: Aim for progressive overload
Progressive overload is a principle that stipulates that over time, one must keep increasing the stimulus placed onto the body in order for it to grow and adapt. “You have to constantly push yourself. Once you develop a solid base, increase the weights, increase the reps, or decrease the rest periods.” We must therefore plan and prepare for this to be the case. This means that we must have a program to follow, this program should include compound lifts (like the lower body ones listed below), we must add more reps/sets or increase the weights on a periodical basis and we must rest/eat for our bodies to recover adequately. Once we get these basics correct, there is simply no way that our bodies will not grow to their potential! Understanding the way our body adapts to our training stimulus means that we must aim to challenge it over time, this requires holding ourselves accountable for all of the factors that I listed above, keeping a weekly training log/measuring our body fat/taking measurements are methods to help us in this process!
Here is a list of the main compound lifts that our programs should include (Robles, 2021):
1) Compound Exercises For Legs Development (Quadriceps and Adductors) (Robles, 2021):
Barbell Split Squat
The Goblet Squat
Front Rack Reverse Lunge
Bulgarian Split Squat
2) Compound Exercises For Glutes and Hamstrings (Robles, 2021):
Conventional Barbell Deadlift
Trap Bar Deadlift
Cable Pull Through
Tip #7: Do some cardio!
This is important for those of us who have a significant amount of fat to shed or are looking to look lean. Performing cardio has proven to have some benefits on our cardiovascular and respiratory systems. For those of us who want to lose fat, performing cardio can allow us to burn the calories needed to be at a calorie deficit. We can start getting into the habit of cardio by doing micro-habits, meaning we can start by performing at least 10 minutes of cardio per day in three separate blocks. In 28-30 days, this can turn into a habit. Eventually, if we do want to lose weight, we want to utilize both low intensity and high intensity cardio. Check out this post on cardio methods for more information on this. If we do want to maintain or build muscle, keeping cardio to a minimum (just before training or after) is optimal as being at a calorie deficit is no longer our goal.
Tip #8: Smart supplementation goes a long way!
Supplements should be adding to our existing diets and are in no way a substitute for the actual nutrition and training we are committing to. However, certain supplements offer benefits not only to our actual physiques but to our performance. Omega 3 for instance provides multiple benefits to our brains and mood and can also prime our bodies for protein synthesis. Our bodies require Vitamin D which makes it an important supplement to be consumed regardless of our fitness goals, it does provide strength benefits to both our bones and muscles. If you are a vegan going on your fitness journey, check out my post on supplementation for vegans, you can benefit greatly from a B12 supplement, creatine and a plant-based protein. For non-vegans, I do think that creatine is awesome, especially for mental focus, performance and making those extra gains at the gym. Check out this post on creatine to find out about dosage, instructions, etc. Finally, if you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, you can benefit greatly from protein powder supplementation, check out this post on the different types of protein powder to help guide you throughout this process!
Tip #9: Write out your goals beforehand and visualize your success!
Fitness goals are crucial towards embarking on our fitness journeys for several reasons. The main one is that it gives us clarity and offers us a mindset for success. Start out by writing your goals on a piece of paper, then determine what is your why. Why do you want to embark on this journey? Is it to boost your confidence, achieve a certain aesthetic, just become healthier? Check out this post on the different types of fitness goals to know which one resonates mostly with you. Finding out our “why” also allows us to tap into our own emotions required to become self-motivated. Furthermore, I would recommend tools like visualization to get close to our goals. Visualization requires us to mentally see ourselves achieve our goal, in order for it to be effective, however, it needs to have an emotional charge. We must first see and then feel our way to our ideal fit selves.
Tip #10: Make sure to stay hydrated!
Hydration helps us in numerous ways. Firstly, our bodies need water in order to survive. Secondly, we need water to fuel our performance at the gym. Thirdly, our muscles need hydration in order to grow and recover. Staying hydrated also allows us to manage our satiety signals and feel fuller. Water helps keep our bodies’ temperature regulated during a grueling workout, it also detoxifies our bodies and carries nutrients to help give us energy.
Tip #11: Prioritize sleep
Our bodies need sleep in order to function optimally. We need sleep in order to hit our fitness goals and perform to the best of our abilities. Sleep chiefly aids our performance but it also allows us to stay motivated, to reach our goals with greater clarity among other things. It also allows our muscles to grow and our bodies to respond well to our training. Without sleep, our bodies would not respond to what it is that we are working hard for during our waking hours.
Tip #12: Have a growth mindset!
The final tip on this is to have a growth mindset. Check out this post on mindsets to find out why having a growth mindset is one of the most important things that we can do! Having a growth mindset allows us to view fitness as a journey rather than a destination. It also allows us to have a longer timeline on our progress as we come to see failure as a stepping stone towards success. Essentially, Carole Dweck’s idea of a growth mindset is one in which “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” ( Dweck, 2015)
In conclusion, in order for us to reach our fitness goals to have the physique that we desire, we must follow these 12 tips. Firstly, we mustn’t be afraid of lifting heavy, we have to eat enough calories and protein, train at a higher intensity using compound lifts, focus on execution/form, supplement intelligently, write out our goals, stay hydrated, prioritize sleep and have a growth mindset.
I hope that you enjoyed these 12 fitness tips for women! Please let me know what you thought about this post in the comments below.