The Big Fat Problem
I've been working out since I was twelve. I can still remember the first gym I belonged to. It was very small and I was very uneducated, but I worked out everyday nonetheless and before long this hobby of mine somehow became my passion. Just like you guys, working out was part of my everyday life. I'd get up, go to school and/or work and go to the gym. It was something I just did. People who didn't train were strange to me. I mean, how could anyone just not work out? What's wrong with these people?!
Now that I'm older, I've come to the astonishing realization that not everyone's life includes working out. You may have discovered this yourself. In fact, you may have found yourself romantically involved or even married to one of these non-training creatures. Now you want her to join you in the gym because the couple that trains together, stays together. And besides, that perky butt you fell in love with is now heading south and it's getting a little tough to answer that, "Does my butt look fat in these jeans?" question.
So, how do you get her into the gym? This was a question posed to me a while back that I'll admit, I couldn't answer. Being a female personal trainer, I can honestly say that I don't understand these girls either! But I feel for you guys and I wanted to help you out. So I gave it some serious thought and for the next couple of days I went around asking girls, both inside and outside the gym, what they thought about working out. Some of the girls I asked trained regularly, others attended one or two aerobic classes a week, and the rest looked at me like I was crazy.
When I asked the latter group why they didn't like to work out, they gave me honest and sincere answers, that I must admit, made a lot of sense. Now, you guys are probably not going to like what I'm about to tell you, but before you swear at me and click the "X" button at the top of your screen, just hear me out. Their answers made sense and they'll help you to understand the problem, and likewise, find a solution.
Are you ready?
Out of all the women I talked to, the number one reason why they don't like to workout is... you!
That's right, guys, it's your fault! Keep in mind that they're intimidated and they don't know what to do in the gym. They're overwhelmed and often not feeling very good about themselves. (And you, big guy, are one of the ones making them feel that way.) Most women said they've previously tried to work out with their husband or boyfriend but that he "did too much." Somewhere in the past, you've taken your girl to the gym and put her through one of your advanced workouts, haven't you? In fact, maybe you showed off a little to prove to her what a tough guy you were.
Sorry, fellas, but women don't respond the same way your male training partners do, especially a woman new to weight training. We don't respond to insults. You may think that calling us fat or making snide comments about our bodies will motivate us to get to the gym, but in most cases, that's not how women operate. Yeah, yeah, women should come with operating manuals, I know. Well, that's what this article is in a way, so pay attention, stud.
Put yourself in her shoes for a minute. You walk into a foreign place (the gym in this case), and you're surrounded by all these funny looking machines and people who seem to know what they're doing. So right at the door, she's feeling overwhelmed and out of place. Don't make it worse by intimidating her with advanced workouts, overly technical jargon, and veiled insults. And don't show off.
As a personal trainer, I've learned a lot about life (and a lot about other people's lives, yawn) and the most important thing I've learned about people is that we like to be good at whatever it is we're doing. If we're not good, we eventually give up and quit. Period. So while you're giving yourself an ego boost and playing the tough know-it-all, your girl is getting psychologically defeated. Maybe you've never thought of it that way.
Care and Maintenance of your T-Vixen in Training
This section may seem foreign to you, like opening up the hood of a car and finding everything in the wrong place. That's okay. The female psyche can be a confusing place to be for a man. So just trust me on this one if you want to make your girl into a certified vixen.
There are three basic steps here: 1) Get her into the gym. 2) Get her results without killing her. 3) Get her to become intrinsically motivated and adopt the lifestyle. Let's take a closer look at each.
Step #1: Get her into the gym.
The first step is usually the toughest. As you've probably already figured out, insults don't work with most women. In fact, with some women, it does just the opposite. Call them fat and they get depressed and head for the chunky monkey ice cream. So instead of insulting her, try one of these lines:
"I enjoy working out and it's a big part of my life. You're a big part of my life too, so why don't you join me today at the gym? Two of my favorite things at the same time, you and training. I'll be in heaven."
Yeah, I know, that's really cheesy, but remember you're talking to a person who grew up on soap operas. And besides, the corny lines work much better than, "Hey, porky, you gonna' go slam some iron with me today or what?"
If she insults herself, don't agree with her outright. If she comments on her weight or says she wants to "tone up," say, "I love you no matter what you look like, but if you want to make some changes I'd love to help you out." She still may need encouragement, but this has to be done without insults or teasing, no matter how innocent you think that teasing is. Along with insults, another "don't" would be comparing her to other girls. This does not work! Most women I spoke to were already intimidated by how good some of the other girls looked in the gym.
And how do you get out of that infamous question, "Do I look fat in the jeans?" Simple. Use the old psychologist trick and turn the question back on her, i.e. "Do you think you look fat?" Works like a charm and you're off the hook.
A few more tips:
Let her choose an activity in the gym she enjoys. Yes, even if it's (gasp!) a step aerobics class. Yes, of course we want her to start training with weights, but first we have to get her into the gym and enjoying herself. So let her choose at first. Trust me, she'll soon learn that it takes more than bouncing up and down in an aerobics studio to build a T-Vixen body. Until she decides that for herself, you may get her into the free weights area once or twice per week "just for fun." More on that later.
I know this is a tough pill to swallow, but think about it: when you first started training, did you automatically learn to love squats and deadlifts? Probably not, but you learned over time. Just as you didn't become a T-man overnight, your girl won't become a hardcore vixen overnight either. But she will get there faster if you play your cards right; just be patient. She may not be training the way you want yet, but hey, at least she's in the gym and not on the couch. The rest will come in time.
Sometimes it's tough for those closest to you to take your advice. Unmotivated people may be better helped by an outside source, someone they see as an expert. So if it gets her into the gym, get her involved with a personal trainer, at least for a few sessions. Yes, there are a few good ones out there. Plus, she may be more comfortable, at least initially, by having a female trainer helping her out. Don't worry, she'll likely outgrow her trainer in time and then you can take over. She may also prefer working out with a more experienced female friend instead of you. Don't be offended. Just get her into the gym!
Don't encourage her to get into shape and then not be there for her. Help her set long term and short term goals. Help her plan her diet (more on that later) and come up with fun workouts. Heck, take her shopping and let her buy some workout clothes if you have to!
Don't bring her to the gym during peak hours. Most girls are embarrassed and aren't comfortable with a lot of people around them while they work out.
I know some of these tips may seem "weenie," but remember you may be dealing with a woman whose previous experience in this area was drinking a Slim Fast and walking around the block twice for exercise. She's been brainwashed by infomercials (rock hard abs without sweating!) and ads for kooky weight loss centers. You can't throw everything at her at once or she'll go into shock! Think of this as a period of deprogramming.
Step #2: Get her results without killing her.
"But how do I get her results if she shuns weight training and prefers Tae-bo?!" you may be asking. Relax. If she's untrained, she'll get some results no matter what. Eventually, she'll be drawn to the weights so don't worry about it. The only thing you may have to do is deprogram her belief that she'll get "too big" with weight training. This is the most common myth I run into as a trainer.
All you have to do is explain to her that unless she's taking buckets of steroids, that's not going to happen. Hopefully there'll be a few women around lifting weights who have the kind of body she wants. (The fitness competitors in the magazines may motivate her, but these days even the "fitness" girls are dipping into their boyfriend's D-bol stash it seems.)
The secret to this step is to let her notice the results without feeling beaten to death in the gym. You may love your killer Ian King leg workout (I know I do!), but it may be too much too soon for her. And with beginners, there's no reason to get complicated. Because you guys read T-mag, I'm going to assume that you have above average smarts when it comes to working out. So I'm sure you know that if a person is used to doing nothing, there's no need to do everything the first few times in the gym.
Keep it simple. Start off small and make her feel good about whatever it is she's doing. Encourage her through the entire workout, even if it's bicep curls! Say things like, "Wow! Look at those biceps! I never knew you had arms like that!" It might sound stupid, but it works. Trust me! Working out, like anything else in life, has a lot to do with your mental attitude toward it. So, do anything and everything you can to keep her from feeling overwhelmed.
Below is a simple workout I've used successfully to turn many housewives and chunky coeds into temptresses. It's simple but effective.
T-Vixen Beginner Workout
Incline dumbbell press: 3x10
Dumbbell lunges (alternate legs): 3x12 (each leg)
Overhead press: 3x12
Dumbbell bicep curls: 3x10
Ab machine or ab exercise of your choice: 3x10-15
Chest supported seated row: 3x10
Flat dumbbell press–or–barbell bench press: 3x10
Leg press: 3x12
Straight bar cable pressdowns: 3x12
Ab machine or exercise of your choice: 3x10-15
Lat pulldown, overhand grip: 3x10
Lying leg curl: 3x10
Dumbbell shoulder press: 3x12
Leg extensions: 3x12
Ab machine or exercise of your choice: 3x10-15
Always include a 10 minute warm-up consisting of light to moderate aerobic activity (i.e. walking, jogging etc).
Lift and lower the weight in a controlled fashion. You don't have to burden her with tempo prescriptions yet; just tell her to lower the weights slower than she lifts them.
Take at least one day off in between each lifting day. You might have to take two or three days off in between each workout the first week or two because of muscle soreness. Tell her she shouldn't train muscles that are still sore from the previous workout.
These workouts are best done in a circuit fashion (i.e. do one set of the first exercise, then without resting move to the second exercise etc.) Go through the circuit three times the first few weeks then increase it to four when she feels ready.
She might want to do the workout as shown above (the same exercise for three sets, resting 90-120 seconds in between each set) the first few times until she gets the hang of each exercise. Then start the circuit when she feels comfortable.
I recommend doing 15 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity, with moderate intensity, after each lifting session.
In between her weight training days, she can do 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobics.
Or, if she'd rather split up her body parts, which is a little more advanced, try this split approach:
Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Biceps
Incline dumbbell press: 3x10
Flat bench or dumbbell press: 3x10
Dumbbell shoulder press: 3x10
Standing EZ bar curls: 2x10
Day 2: Legs
Dumbbell lunges (alternating legs or, if advanced, walkthroughs) 3x12
Leg press: 3x12
Lying leg curl: 2-3x10
Leg extension: 2-3x12
Abs (ab machine or exercise of your choice): 3-4x10-15
(As she advances, be sure to introduce her to the squat!)
Day 3: Back and Triceps
Lat pulldown (underhand, shoulder width grip): 3x10
Lat pulldown (overhand, wide grip): 3x10
Chest supported seated row: 3x10
Tricep Extensions (Nosecrushers) to forehead: 2x10
Straight bar cable pressdowns: 2x10
Step #3: Get her to become intrinsically motivated and adopt the lifestyle.
Now, how do you get someone to become self-motivated? Well, that's tricky because if you motivate them, then they're not exactly self-motivated, are they? The answer is really simple though, and you'll find the problem solves itself with time. Motivation is the result of making progress. If she begins to make progress, she'll get motivated and stay motivated. In fact, you may have to even talk her out of going to the gym too often!
This is a trick I often use. When a beginner starts to see results, she'll often want to overdo it in the gym, train too long or too often. It's great to see that spark of life in a former couch spud but this can also lead to a quick burnout. The trick is to always leave them wanting a little more. Hold them back a little at first. Make them anxious to get to the gym. She'll also be surprised how easy the workouts were and lose much of her fear of training. She'll ask to do more her next workout. Perfect! That's exactly what you want! If she makes the decision to train harder instead of you, then she'll be more likely to stick with her program.
If she doesn't start to see immediate results and gets discouraged, it may be time for a little white lie. Sometimes newbies expect overnight miracles and if they don't see them, they quit. A little education will solve that problem, but for a short term cure, just tell her you're seeing a difference in her legs. Suck up your pride and say she looks more "toned." (Don't worry, you can tell her what a silly word that is later; for now, let's just keep her motivated.)
Also, be sure she doesn't become a scale addict. With weight fluctuations due to menstrual cycles, the scale can be her enemy if she uses it too often. Instead, use a variety of tools to monitor her progress: before and after pictures, fat calipers, measurements, etc. When her pants start fitting better, you'll have her.
Okay, if her long term dedication to training relies on her progress, then what's the secret to faster progress? Diet, of course! So if you're not working with her on her diet, then you're setting her up for defeat.
Just as with training, don't go nuts with your extensive knowledge and scare her off with complex diets that require intense willpower. A woman who doesn't pay much attention to her diet can make amazing progress with only a few minor dietary changes. Please don't put her on the Fat Fast program combined with Meltdown Training just yet. Remember, we're trying not to kill her!
I've seem women drop a quick five or ten pounds by simply following these simple rules:
1) No soft drinks, candy, pastries or other junk food.
2) No fast food and no fried food.
3) Eat many small meals per day instead of two or three big ones.
4) Cut back on breads.
Simple, huh? But if she's an average woman who eats bad foods on a daily basis, then that's all she needs for now. And do you know what's the most helpful thing you can do for her? Stop eating bad stuff in front of her! Hopefully you don't indulge in fast food or donuts very often, but if you do, don't do this in her presence while telling her that she needs to drop some weight. I don't care if it is your "free day," you might get a shoe up beside your head if you do!
You may not want to throw all this on her at once, but here are a few more fat loss tips:
Resistance training will maintain or increase your lean body mass (muscle). Muscle burns calories, which means that for every pound of muscle gained, you'll be burning more calories and increasing the rate of fat loss. (Use this one when she gives you that "weights are for men" line.)
We want to lose fat, not weight! Don't become obsessed with the scale. Losing weight the right way takes time.
As she advances, get her to start keeping a food log. I know it's a pain but it's absolutely essential for long term progress! Have her do it for, let's say, two weeks. She'll be amazed at what she learns. Here's what to include: the food she ate, the amount, how much protein, fat and carbs it contained, the time she ate it, and the total amount of calories. After a couple days of doing this, it'll be like clockwork.
A good rule of thumb is to eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 140, then eat about 140 grams of protein. Some good protein sources include: egg whites, turkey, chicken, lean meats, tuna, salmon, and cottage cheese. You might also want to try meal replacement shakes and protein powders. There are many choices out there. Some are better for you than others. My clients absolutely love Biotest's Low Carb Grow!
Eat often! Most people eat three times a day (on a good day) and that's simply not enough. We need to get her metabolism going! We do this by eating smaller meals, more often. Start with at least five a day.
To find out the approximate amount of calories she should be consuming a day, simply take her body weight and multiply by 12. For example, a 140-pound woman should eat close to 1,700 calories a day. Please note that this is an approximation only. Remember, to lose fat we must create a calorie deficit, which means that we must expend more energy (calories) then we're consuming. For example, if you're active one day and then the next day you're on the couch, it wouldn't make sense to eat the same amount of calories. So just take that into consideration. Just have her weigh every week or two and adjust calories based on her progress or lack thereof.
Don't be afraid of fat! Some women do well on high fat/low carbohydrate diets. Others don't. What works for you might not work for your girl. Some healthy fats include: extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil (mix with protein shakes), fish oil capsules, and all-natural peanut butter. (Just note that fat has 9 calories/gram compared to protein and carbohydrates that have 4 calories/gram. That's not a bad thing, but just be aware of that because the calories add up quicker!)
Carbohydrates and fats don't mix! When planning your meals, either have protein and carbohydrates together (i.e. chicken and vegetables, oatmeal and egg whites, fruit and cottage cheese etc.) or protein and fat together (i.e. salmon or tuna on a salad with lemon juice or vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, omelet with cheese, chocolate protein powder with all-natural peanut butter etc.) If you split your meals up like this, at the end of the day, you still have a "balanced" diet.
Have a cheat day or a single cheat meal about once a week. Yes, you read that right! She may have one day or one meal set aside when she can eat her favorite foods in moderation. Most people save this for Saturday or whenever they have the most social activities. One of the main reasons diets fail is because they tell us we can't have this or we can't have that. It's just human nature to want what we can't have. Why do you think women are always attracted to married men?! This cheat meal will motivate her during the week and allow her to satisfy her cravings on the weekend. She may become so excited about her progress that she chooses to skip this meal over time. No problem.
The Next Step
If she's progressed according to plan, then she should be pretty much self-sufficient at this point. All you really need to do now is turn her on to a progressive source of information like T-mag. Soon, she'll be coming to you with workout plans and diets she wants to try.
One of the most common questions I hear from women in the gym concerns supplementation. Once I make sure they have their diets in order, I recommend Methoxy-7, T2-PRO, and MD6, which is the ultimate T-Vixen stack, especially if her goal is to lose fat and harden up. (And isn't that the goal of most females?) Not only do these supplements work very well, but she'll also feel motivated to workout regularily so the supplements won't "go to waste." So, quality supps can help her both physically and psychologically.
The key to turning your gal pal into a real life vixen is patience and encouragement. Hopefully this article will help you and her get started. With your support and my advice, together we can bring these strange creatures into our world! Good luck!