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Train like you mean it, girl!

Trainiere so, als ob Du es ernst meinst, Mädel!

As women, we need to train like men to see results. This is true both if you are trying to burn fat and if you are trying to build a more toned body. If you are a woman who is interested in running or not interested in building muscle, then you have probably already stopped reading. For everyone else, I encourage you to keep reading because you're probably a woman trying to lose fat, a woman trying to build muscle and lose fat, or a woman who just wants to tone her body. This article is for all those women!

When I go to the gym, I almost always see the same guys and girls on the cardio machines. Most of the time they are the same ones I have seen on these machines in the last year, who are quite skinny and don't have a very well shaped body. What amazes me the most is the fact that these people look as if they are bored with their exercise program and are just trying to move their arms and legs to achieve the result of their efforts - the end of their training session.

During their cardio workout, some of the women are reading magazines, watching the TV screen (even though they are probably not at all interested in the soccer game that is going on) or playing with their cell phones. I've been through all of this myself and this was before I made the move from cardio machines to moving weights. Doing this gave me new motivation, which later carried over to my cardio training.

I wonder why these women think that just doing cardio will get them the results they want. Some may just want to tone their bodies to look like the women in their swimsuits in their magazines and believe that all they have to do is perform tons of cardio and barely eat anything. In most cases, these photos have been insanely doctored to look even thinner and more beautiful. The women in these magazines are genetically predisposed to look like this and that's the reason they are models. I'm not here to belittle anyone's goals, but I do want to emphasize the importance of building muscle for a lean body and losing weight. So if all you're doing is staying in your little cardio comfort zone, then it's time to step out of it and take a big step forward!

My friend and personal trainer Travis comments, "From a certified personal trainer's perspective, it's a blessing to see women working out with weights. Most women have the same goal and I hear it over and over again. They mostly want to lose weight (fat) and tone their bodies. It is a scientifically proven fact that anyone trying to lose fat and tone their body will get better results if they use a resistance training program in conjunction with a good aerobic workout. Basically, what this means for women is that they will see greater fat loss if they incorporate weight training into their program. The accompanying build-up of muscle mass will increase their metabolic rate and burn more calories, which in turn will make not only the cardio workout but also their calorie-restricted diet more effective."

"Something I hear regularly from women is that they don't want to train with weights because they are afraid of getting too bulky or building too much muscle mass. While it's true that resistance training will increase the amount of lean muscle mass, we can control the amount of that mass by using the right set and repetition ranges. Just because you train with weights doesn't mean you will look like a bodybuilder. Hypertrophy or muscle growth is optimized by training in the range of 10 to 12 repetitions to muscle failure. Anything above this repetition range, where heavier weights are not used, will be more aerobic in nature while also helping to build lean muscle mass without achieving that muscular look that many women fear."

Any woman striving to achieve the perfect body she desires must therefore incorporate a solid resistance training program into her workout plan for optimal results. Most women are somewhat intimidated by free weights and don't know exactly where to start or what to do after deciding to add weights to their workout program. One of the biggest mistakes I see women make is that they don't do enough. There should be a good balance between weights and cardio. If a woman or man needs help creating a good exercise program, then I would recommend that person go to a certified trainer at the gym. They are there to help and are happy to share their knowledge."

For me personally, being a woman and being defined and tough is sexy. You're operating on a completely different level if those are your goals. The main difference between you and those cardio bunnies is your higher protein needs and that you're lifting and using weights. Cardio is not the most important thing - and once you understand this, you have a foot in the door! All you have to do is take the next step through the door, behind which a whole new world awaits you.

There are about 3 other women who train at my gym who I have noticed that in addition to cardio - primarily intervals - they also train in the area of the gym where the weights and machines are and where most of the men are. These women are defined and have lean muscle, and that stands out! I've gotten very good at being able to tell which woman is working out with weights and which is just doing cardio based on muscle definition - or lack of muscle definition.

Travis goes on to say the following about women who train with weights:

"I personally see it from the same perspective - I love to see women working out with weights. This tells me that they are serious about their bodies and that they want to achieve the best shape possible for them - and they understand that it is necessary to train with weights to transform themselves into what they want to be or become."

"However, I sometimes feel that these women are not taken seriously by some guys in the gym and that annoys me. There are 3 types of men in the gym: the gawkers, the pickers and the helpers. The gawkers do exactly what the definition of that term implies. They stare stupidly at the women working out. The pick-up artists want to talk to the women and are more interested in getting a date than they are in the women's training. And then there are the helpers. Try to choose these guys as friends. These are the guys who are at the gym to actually work out and they understand that women are at the gym for the same reason."

We go to the gym to work out, to get better and to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. My number one piece of advice for a woman working out at the gym with weights is to not be intimidated by the weights or the men at the gym! You have every right to do dumbbell curls right next to the guys."

As women, we know these three types of men all too well!!! No offense guys, but part of being a woman is understanding the signals of the opposite sex! This is not only the case outside the gym, but definitely inside as well. Like Travis said, there are great guys there who can help you. Sometimes I'll ask one of the guys on the training floor something about a certain exercise or what would better emphasize a certain muscle. They tend to be well versed in the subject matter.

I also use the men at the gym as motivation for my ego. Have you ever noticed that they often look at themselves in the mirror. I mean, what else can you do between sets and reps? They've figured it out. The more you look at your muscles and appreciate them in the mirror as you train them, the more your ego will grow. This is a good thing if you let it! It will make you believe that you are stronger and you will be motivated by this boost to overcome that physical exhaustion you need to overcome to see results. Grow your ego in the gym!

I think it's important to know another woman's perspective on this topic. I have talked to many women who enjoy working out with weights and they all say the same thing about their early days. We all agree that it's completely normal to be nervous or apprehensive at the beginning, but it's important to get past those feelings and just do what needs to be done to get toned and defined.

My friend Mandy, who also works out with weights, has this to say:

"I started working out with weights during high school. I had just made the women's basketball team and I was small and weak, so training with weights was a necessity to get stronger and keep up with the others. I trained every morning with my team in the weight room. Almost every day there were guys from the football, baseball and basketball teams and we were the only girls there. Sometimes, when I went to train alone, I was even the only girl there. It was intimidating and I didn't feel confident about my abilities at practice, and sometimes I would rush through my workout just to get out of the weight room as quickly as possible because I felt like everyone was staring at me. However, over the course of the following years of high school and my four years of college basketball, I grew to love training with weights and what it did to my body."

Once I started training with weights and got over the initial awkwardness that comes with doing something new, I felt that I had become part of something that I hadn't even known existed before. It may sound a little strange, but I'm telling you that this is a world that we, as women who simply go to the gym to tone up or keep our bodies in shape, will never explore. There is so much to learn in the realm of training with weights and the possibilities are almost endless. I want to show you how to approach it when you set foot in this world so that you can get the most results from your hard work. When you choose to incorporate weights into your training, it's all about working as hard as you can - both physically and mentally.

Mandy has this to say:

"Nowadays I go straight to the weights at the gym and I don't mind if there are men there. I'm no longer intimidated by the fact that I'm the only woman training with weights, it just pushes me even more. Whereas I used to feel like I was being stared at because it was weird that a woman was training with weights, now I know that I'm admired or that guys are keeping an eye on me!"

"I went through these phases where I was only doing cardio and I didn't see the results that I've seen since I started training with weights. Training with weights gives me an inner and outer sense of strength and makes me more confident. It has changed my life in ways I never thought possible!"

Here are a few things to keep in mind when training like you mean it:

1. visualization

First, you need to have a picture of what you want to look like. As you progress in your training with weights, you will learn what parts of your body you like and what you like about other people's bodies. I've found that one of my favorite muscles right now are my shoulder muscles. I like the look of Jessica Biel's shoulder muscles and there are very few women who don't compete and have well-developed shoulder muscles. So you can tell she has worked for her shoulder muscles!

When I started, my goal was to lose fat to show the muscles that were hidden under that fat. I thought that just by losing body fat I would get toned and shapely arms. What I didn't realize was that training with weights is an integral - if not one of the most important parts of fat loss and shaping. You get, in a sense, two things for the price of one - in addition to the aforementioned, working out with weights will help you achieve a leanness that nothing else will give you.

I've heard this comparison before and I think about it often. Think of the training that a long distance runner does. I'm talking about the marathon runners we've all seen in pictures. Well, they just run very, very long distances. Now imagine what their bodies look like. Usually their muscles are very small and lean and they have very little body fat covering those muscles. Now think about how a sprinter has to train for the Olympics. He has to do tons of sprints to get good at sprinting. He also needs to build up his muscles to be able to run at higher speeds over shorter distances. A sprinter's body is very lean and muscular.

If you compare the body of a long-distance runner with the body of a sprinter and the training of a sprinter with the training of a long-distance runner, you will see that the different types of training lead to very different visual results.

These are of course both extremes - and both can of course be achieved, but think about how your goals compare to these two images.

Think about what you want your body to look like. If you can, imagine that this is your body right now.

2. music as motivation

Put together a hardcore workout playlist that appeals to you. When I get new music, it brightens up my week and helps me look forward to going to the gym and working out to new music even more. Music can work wonders.

3. you need the right understanding of reality

You need to get the idea out of your head that you will get bulky if you train too hard. There is so much information out there on this and probably thousands of articles have been written on the subject, but to be honest, this is all that needs to be said on the subject - because if you are a woman, this simply won't happen unless you are using banned performance enhancing substances. As a woman, you will simply find it difficult to build muscle mass. It will also be hard for you to sculpt your body as the art of training with weights is hard - but you will fight through it. In my experience, anything that is really challenging - mentally or physically - will give you massive rewards for your efforts.

4. focus

Okay, let's get to the really good stuff.

When you enter the gym, you need to change your mindset. Create an alter-ego. Beyonce calls her alter-ego Sasha Fierce. She says "it's a persona I've created for myself when I'm on stage. This alter-ego is not the person I really am, but a person I am sometimes. When I'm on stage, I'm aggressive and strong and I'm not afraid of my sexuality. The tone of my voice changes and I am fearless. I'm just a different person." You have to believe that you are already as strong as you want to be and that with none of your sentences or repetitions you are turning off that switch. Let that ego swell.

5. push yourself hard

"The last three or four reps are what will make the muscles grow. That area of pain is what separates the champion from the mediocre. And that's exactly what most people lack - having the balls to keep going and just train through the pain no matter what" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

This is one of my favorite quotes. And it's true. To build muscle, you have to push yourself to the limit. If you've ever experienced the feeling of lactic acid building up in your muscles after pushing yourself hard in the gym, you'll know that it's a short but brutal feeling. To achieve this feeling, you need to exhaust your muscles. You can achieve this feeling with high reps or heavy weights - anything that pushes your muscles to the max.

As far as I'm concerned, you should feel this sensation regularly during training - you should push yourself hard. If you're not pushing yourself hard, then your muscles probably aren't being pushed either.

6 Pride & your ego

"What we face may seem insurmountable. But I've learned something through all those years of training and competing. I've learned something through all those sets and reps during which I never thought I could move another ounce of weight. What I learned is that we are always stronger than we think." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Have you noticed that I like Arnold?

If you haven't seen the movie "Pumping Iron" with Arnold and Lou Ferrigno, rent it - now! It's from 1977, it's an oldie but it speaks volumes. It gives you a real sense of what Arnold went through in his mind to achieve his body. Arnold is humble and funny, yet tough and serious when it comes to the sport of bodybuilding. This is an amazing movie.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the King of Bodybuilding started bodybuilding at the age of 15. He once said "I wanted more, I demanded more of myself." Demand more from yourself during the short time you spend in the gym.

Watch the guys - the guys who train really hard. You'll see the difference between the guys who are at the gym simply so they can tell themselves they worked out, the guys who just come to the gym to chat and hang out, the guys who walk around watching everyone else in their tight clothes (the gawkers, as Travis calls them), the guys who work out hard but don't know how to work out effectively, and the guys who work out with oodles of effort and determination.

I once asked my friend why all the guys were looking at themselves in the mirror between sets. I'm not talking about once or twice, but all the time. It seems to be a common thing with all of them - and even him. He told me that most guys in the gym are all about pride and ego. They are there to work and they soak up all the results of that hard work when they look in the mirror. He went on to say that it's a good feeling when their muscles are pumped and it shows - so why not look at it. This got me thinking. Here I was, intimidated and trying not to think about all the others who might be staring at me because I was the only woman on the training floor while all they were thinking about was how good they looked. In most cases, others don't think about us as much as we might think!

From then on I started to think about this more and more and now I see it all with different eyes. I believe that women should adopt this mindset when it comes to ourselves and our bodies. Why shouldn't we love how we look and soak it up!

7. know your weaknesses and be willing to accept them

"I have always been honest about my weaknesses and this has helped me grow. I think that's the key to success in anything: be honest; know your weaknesses; accept them." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

You will have weak points that you will find when you start training. For me it was my shoulders. Barbell shoulder presses caused me pain in my shoulders because my chest muscles were weak and my shoulders were compensating. I was aware of this and started training with weights that were under the weight of an empty bar and worked my way up from there.

Don't push yourself too hard - the last thing you want is an injury. You have to listen to your body - and you'll know when it was too much. Most knowledge comes from trial and error and seeing how your body responds to certain amounts of weight and repetitions.

8 And last but not least, discipline and patience

"Discipline is remembering what you want." - David Campbell

Remember why you are in the gym. Remember that lactic acid will build up in your muscles during training, that it will really hurt and that this pain is what will give you what you want. Overcome that pain and learn to appreciate that pain.

Patience is a trait that is hard to learn. However, in the world of muscle building and fat loss, this is the trait that will keep your mind strong.

"You can't get patience overnight. It's like building muscle - you have to work at it every day." - Eknath Easwaran

Now go out there and train like you mean it, girl!


By Ashley Johns

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