5 Tips for Building a Sexy Female Body
By: John Romaniello
A lot of trainers will tell you don’t need to differentiate between men and women when designing training programs; that the physiological needs are nearly identical and only the hormones are different.
Thankfully, I’m not most trainers.
While I agree that on some abstract level that there are a good deal of similarities in the way you can approach training, I don’t design programs for clients based on some arbitrary assessment of what they are theoretically capable of responding to.
Rather, I approach program design based only on the client’s goals.
Forgive me for generalizing, but men and women usually have very different goals. Even when a man and a woman have the same goal-fat loss, for example-they will still have different micro-goals within the context of that macro-goal. Keeping those micro goals in mind is of the utmost importance.
Having nearly a decade of experience training clients, and with a vast number of them being women, I have come up with the following list for helping women get better results and achieving that sexy look that’s the goal of most training.
1) Ditch the Lame Warm Up
In most cases, your warm up should bear a fair similarity to your actual training. Given that we’ve pretty established that slow paced workouts-be they cardio or strength training-are essentially useless, why would you think to warm up that way? And yet, more often than not, you see women getting ready for fast-paced, intense workouts warming up with a lame 10 minute walk on the treadmill.
I implore you, do NOT do this! It’s simply time wasted that could be spent getting you to your goals.
Instead, it is much more effective to warm up much in the same fashion you’ll workout: fast. I always have my clients warm up with full body exercises and dynamic bodyweight circuits.
Skipping rope and performing calisthenic exercises like jumping jacks work the entire body, and prepare you neurologically for the workout to come. This will allow you to get more out of each exercise because you body will be primed perform as a unit-this is especially true if you do a lot of full body movements in your training.
In addition to that, dynamic workouts also get your heart rate up over a shorter period of time, and allow you to burn more calories and get into the groove faster.
Whether your goal is to drop some fat or tone up your muscles, there is literally nothing that a lame slow-go workout can do for you that can’t be more effectively achieved with a fast one.
2) Don’t Be Afraid to Lift Heavy
Given that I maintain that men and women should train differently for differing goals, it stands to reason that I assert there should be certain aspects of training that carry over when goals are similar.
One goal that men and women have in common is that we all want a firm, toned, sexy look.
One of the best ways to get that look, for men or women, is with heavy weight.
In the men’s version of this blog post, I stated that I think men should train heavy at least 4 days per month.
For most women, that might be a bit much, depending on their goal. However, I insist that all my female clients spend at least 2 days per month dedicated to heavy lifting (75% of 1RM in certain cases).
Without rehashing overmuch, training which utilizes heavy loads is the fastest and most efficient way to increase both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone; that is, it’s the best way to give you firm, toned look-even when you’re just standing there!
Whenever I present women with this information, the immediate reaction is concern. “I don’t want to get bulky-won’t lifting heavy make me bigger?” I’ll assume the majority of TT readers know this isn’t the case, but since I like to cover my bases and be thorough, I’ll just lay it all out.
Gaining muscle is a result of a few factors: training methods, dietary considerations, and hormonal environment.
In terms of diet, it is exceedingly hard to gain significant muscle mass without purposefully eating a caloric excess. This is why athletes and bodybuilders eat over their daily energy needs: so that excess will be used for the building of lean body mass.
For hormones, women will always have a harder time putting on mass than men because of certain sex hormones; mainly testosterone. For building muscle, high levels of testosterone just can’t be beat.
As a woman, your natural levels of testosterone are generally too low to make getting “too big” a concern in a short period of time.
If you do notice yourself putting on more muscle than you’d like, just tone down the training volume and lower your calories.
Speaking of training, that brings us back to my main point. There are a lot of training variables we can manipulate if the goal is to accelerate muscle gain. Right now, let’s talk about volume.
The total volume of your workout can be defined as “sets x reps” – and this number has a lot to do with gaining muscle. You see, while lifting heavy loads IS a great way to put on mass, that ONLY works if you have high volume.
Heavy lifting requires low reps; if you don’t do a greater number of sets, the total workout volume drops dramatically, and you are left without much stimulus for muscle gain.
And THAT is exactly what we want: to keep the weight and volume in the right balance to allow us to reap the benefits of heavy training without putting on mass.
To that end, I recommend that women spend 2 days per month doing a heavy full body circuit:
3 sets of 5 reps for each of the following:
DB Push Press (or overhead press)
Inverted Row (add weight if necessary-or do pull-ups if you can!)
Alternating Reverse Lunges
Plank (hold for as long as possible instead of counting reps)
To determine the correct weight, just pick a weight you can lift roughly 5-6 times. If you can get all 3 sets for 5 reps, increase the weight next workout.
With the above addition to your already kickass TT workouts, you’ll be able to get that toned, firm look-and get stronger, which is never a bad thing.
3) Fight Hormones with Hormones
As I mentioned in the men’s version of this blog post, fat storage patterns are largely hormonal. Over the years, men have evolved to hold fat in the midsection. And as I certainly don’t have to tell the ladies, women have evolved to store fat in the lower body-the hips and thighs. This is due in large part to high levels of estrogen.
As frustrating as that is, we’ve also got a pretty well established belief in the fitness industry that you can’t “spot” reduce fat, so if you are trying to reduce the size of your thighs and hips, your fat loss will come from all over and you just have to let your body determine how much visible reduction occurs.
What if that assessment is only partially true? I contend it very well might be.
A few years back, I attended a seminar led by Dr. John Berardi, who is an expert in the field of sports nutrition. He is also a world-renowned trainer who works with some of the most elite athletes around.
During the seminar, Berardi made a remark about some Olympic athletes he was training; he had an interesting finding regarding fat loss.
As it turned out, when he had these athletes (all women) do their high intensity sprint workouts on a recumbent bicycle, there was a “disproportionately high” amount of fat loss in the lower body.
John and I discussed this, and although he had a lot of data to back this up, no studies had been done. Instead, we just had an interesting factoid.
That was about 6 years ago, and in that time I have had a lot of opportunity to work recumbent bike sprints into a good number of my programs; generally for women who found that losing lower body fat was a hardship. And you know what?
It all comes down to hormones. Like any other exercise modality, riding a recumbent cycle produces a substance called lactic acid.
Edited update from John:
Lactic acid is a substance created as a by product of the chemial processes
that occur during physical exercise. Through a number of pathways, lactic
acid has profound physiological effects, including a dramatic increase in GH
production. This has incredible benefit for fat loss. When applied
corretly, training methods which employ strategic production of latic
acid/GH have been used to elicit a certain degree of site-specific fat loss
End of edited update
Similarly, high intensity exercise produced quite a bit of lactic acid, and as we know, high intensity sprints are great for fat loss for other reasons. And yet, once again, intervals themselves don’t do anything magical hip and thigh fat.
So what makes the recumbent so special?
My theory is this: it all comes down to positioning.
You see, the recumbent cycle is one of the only exercises where your legs remain in a horizontal position for the duration of the set. Lactic acid will be heavily produced but because of the horizontal position of the legs and the upright positioning of the torso, it does not circulate as quickly as it does with other exercises.
Instead, this highly catabolic hormone sort of “pools” in the legs, allowing it to do its catabolic magic on the hip and thigh region. Of course, you run the risk of eating away at a bit of muscle tissue as well.
Since when is it a good idea to get rid of metabolically friendly muscle tissue? Well, it’s not. But there’s a trade-off here, and its worth the risk.
After all, I have had the preponderance of my female clients say, “I have too much fat in my lower body.”
I have never had one say, “Gee, Roman, I wish I had a lot more muscle in my legs, and I don’t want to do anything that runs this risk of compromising my lower body development, even if it’ll help me lose a lot of fat on my thighs.” Just doesn’t happen.
If anything, I have had a number of female former athletes ask how they can reduce leg muscle mass-and this works for that, as well.
Again, I don’t have a study to back me up on the exact way it works, but I have 6 years of my own experience with clients to back up the fact that it DOES work. If are struggling with this area of your body, you MUST give this a try.
Use the power of lactic acid to locally attack stubborn estrogen-based fat storage patterns.
4) Less is More. Or is it More is Less? Or Maybe its be More IN Less. Oh Whatever, Just Go Faster
As I’ve touched on so far, there are a lot of factors we can make alterations to in order to meet the goal of sculpting a sexy female form.
Variables such as training frequency, set and rep schemes, and the aforementioned volume and load (weight) are the most commonly manipulated facets of training. However, one of the variables you don’t hear much about is also lends itself to making some of the best progress.
I’m talking about training density. With regard to training, density can be described as the amount of work you do in a given time period. Density is actually one of the easiest variables to manipulate for progress: simply do more in less time.
Doing more work in less time has a number of incredible benefits: increasing the rate of fat loss, aerobic and anaerobic training, and an increase in work capacity.
Over time, increasing density will make you stronger, leaner, fitter, and MORE capable of performing.
That has carryover to nearly every other type of training and will have implications for accelerated progress down the line.
One of simplest ways to increase density is to shorten your rest periods. If you normally rest 45 seconds between sets, try cutting it down to 35 or less.
Over the course of a 45 minute workout, that adds up and you’ll notice you are feeling a completely different stimulus.
Personally, my favorite way to increase density for women is to add in dynamic drills in the middle of a workout. Between sets of squats, presses, and other exercises, we’ll literally take a 60 second ‘break’ and dedicate that time to mountain climbers, squat jumps, or agility drills for the time you’d normally rest.
Another great way to manipulate density is to structure your sets for TIME rather than REPS. If you are going to squat, rather than just do 15 reps, perform squats for 30 seconds and see how many reps you get.
On your next set, try to beat your previous number of reps.
Maintain good form, but try in increase speed. Of course, eventually you’ll max out, and can improve by either increasing the time, or the weight.
These methods are great for fat loss, but because of the increased work capacity, often it also helps to increase neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone: so, increasing your workout density can increase your body density.
You’ll get leaner, firmer, and sexier-faster.
5) Focus on your Assets
Well, we made it this far without me getting too graphic. Ooops. Look, I’m a butt guy, I like butts. That’s my thing.
I like when a girl has a nice, well-formed, athletic booty. I’m not sure if that’s me objectifying women, or just being honest (or both).
Either way, this is an article intended to help women build sexy bodies,and to me, nothing is sexier than a good backside.
Well, write your own article then. This is my show, so I say we’re talking about butts.
Or training them, at least.
You already know two of the best exercises for your glutes: the squat and the lunge. Here is a quick way to make them more effective (at least for your butt).
When it comes to squatting for your booty, go wide. Wide stance squats with your toes pointed out place a greater emphasis on the glutes; make sure to focus on flexing and squeezing as you perform the movement. I’m not going to bother writing a joke here-it’s too easy.
For lunges, go deep.
One of the important things to note is that glute activation and recruitment is amplified as lunge depth increases. To that end, it is also a great idea to perform lunges with one foot on a step to allow for greater depth.
There you go, TTers!
I’ve given you 5 Tips for a Sexy Female Body that you can apply to your training immediately, and see results that will have you looking sexy enough to take pictures of yourself on your upcoming vacation, and post them on Facebook immediately after friend requesting me. Enjoy!
John Romaniello is a trainer and strength coach who runs Roman Fitness Systems LLC, a company through which he runs online and in-person coaching. Roman is known for his vanity, kickass training programs, and pretending to text during awkward moments. He maintains a site where he writes about fitness, pop-culture, lifestyle and himself in the third person.