Light weight dumbbells; Pilates and yoga; step aerobics and spinning class; circuit hydraulic exercise machines. What do all these exercise programs and equipment have in common? They are typically marketed to the women of the club.
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these activities as far as being a sound form of exercise. But is it the most effective approach to improving strength, cardiovascular health, bone mass density, vascularization... ? Well, you get the idea.
Let's look at another approach to assist our female clients getting in shape and accomplishing their goals in even less time. We can even help them improve their overall health from the inside out with the end result having a shapely and toned body.
Is there something that can do all of this? Yes, I believe there is but it will take a close working relationship with your clients and you will need a keen sense of observation. I call it PowerFitness.
PowerFitness is a combination of powerlifting and fitness type exercises. By combining these two very powerful approaches you should see results much quicker than with aerobics or circuit training alone.
I believe, based on my 38 years of experience and listening to other trainers who work with female clients, that, for the most part, many women are woefully under trained and unchallenged in their fitness program.
Marketers of specialty exercise clubs and so called "fitness experts" that have written special books on training programs targeted just for women have categorized women into one group implying that our sisters who exercise don't have the capacity to lift anything more serious that a 5 or 10lb. Dumbbell or have the capacity to use anything other than an exercise machine.
Are we robbing our female clients of their ability to really get in the best shape of their life because we don't think they can really lift weights? Or, are the professionally certified trainers of this country being drawn into believing the same myths that women might bulk up if they lift weight, just because someone is successful with a book, video or even a chain of exercise clubs?
We are trained to know the difference and to apply these scientific training principles to our female clients exercise program.
So how does one go about implementing a PowerFitness program? Well it should be taken in stages. Not every female is going to walk into a training center ready to do power cleans. You have to prepare them for it. They have to be taught the techniques, the muscles and joints have to be prepared.
The central nervous system needs to be brought on line to operate with the greatest capability of recruiting all the motor units with great precision. And they should be mentally prepared.
| The Central Nervous System.
The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.
This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.
The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.
Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.
But once the foundation phase is laid down, which can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, (remember the Law of Individual Differences) you should begin to implement this program with great success.
Peripheral Heart Rate Training
I like using the Peripheral Heart Rate Training model when applying the PowerFitness program, but with some modifications. I perform it in this manner.
- Full body movements
- Pressing movements
- Pulling movements
- Core conditioning
Full Body Movements:
After a 5-10 minute cardio warm-up, you can start with some movements straight out of the Olympic lifting and powerlifting world, but not using real heavy weight and keeping the reps between 6 and 10lbs. Remember, proper form is more important here than anything else.
Working all the muscles in concert will produce a greater calorie burn and create greater proprioceptive capabilities than working single, isolation type exercises.
| Let Me Interject A Note Here:
This article will not teach how to do these exercises, as it is beyond the scope of the article. Rather, this article is intended to help you take a look at another way to help your female clients get in great shape. Hey, even the guys can do this.
In the full body movements, I prefer starting with a barbell squat clean movement for about 6-10 reps. It should be somewhat challenging. Don't overload the client since this is a full body movement, you won't need as many reps.
I follow that up with an exercise I call dumbbell complex training. Start with a dumbbell in each hand, hanging by your side, palms facing the thigh, in a neutral position.
You perform a standing dumbbell clean with one arm, while executing a short hop. Then, when you get the dumbbell at shoulder level, immediately drive the dumbbell overhead in pressing fashion, then lower the dumbbell back to the starting position and then execute the same movement with the other arm.
Dumbbell Complex Training.
Complete this for two reps on both arms, and then do the same thing again for both arms at the same time. Whew... .this will get your heart rate up!
Perform about 3 sets with this combination then move right into your pressing movements.
- A1) Front or back squats 3 x 6-8 reps
- A2) Stability ball presses (for chest) 3 x 10
- A3) Triceps pushdowns 3 x 12
You might want to keep the reps at around 8-12 for smaller muscles and 6-10 for larger ones. I suggest keeping the total number of exercises in this group at about 3 total with three times through the circuit.
A PowerFitness pressing set might look something like this:
From here, a simple 3 exercise routine would take care of the pulling portion, while keeping the total number of sets to 3 with reps in the 6-12 range. You may have a set that would look something like this:
Then finally, a challenging core program following the same protocols as above. Don't be afraid to use the medicine ball, stability balls, or even the cable crossover machine.
Observing the Law of Individual Differences, you can develop a program like this based on your clients needs, desires and abilities. But the great thing is, your client will have the time of their life, probably work harder than they ever have before and see results they have been after for such a long time, especially if they are stuck in a rut.
Hopefully this type of training will open your eyes to some new possibilities for training female clients and even the guys as well.
About The Author
J.R. Smith, C.F.T., S.F.T., S.P.N.
Personal Performance Specialist - ISSA, USSA, ISFN, AACC
Executive Director of BioFit Exercise Technologies - since 1990