If I've heard it once, I've heard it 100 times. Women wanting to train to "tone" their bodies. When I ask them what they mean by this, they will describe a bubbly butt, shoulder caps, and sculpted abs.
At this point, I always want to make sure we're on the same page. Because of this, I will ask her to show me a picture. She will often show me a picture of a woman that looks amazingly healthy, has sculpted arms, and sick abs. Ya know, sick in a good way.
Which, by the way,
I'm loving the trend of women pushing to be strong vs. being skinny as possible. (I'm looking at you, early 2000s toxic environment.)
The next part of this conversation typically goes with "I want to lift my heavy weights, but I don't want to bulk. I want tone."
Which, the word that they are looking for is typically 'sculpt'. She wants muscle, but she doesn't want to turn into no-neck.
My guess is that this is you because you're still reading this story.
Here's the good news
You’re not just going to magically bulk. And here's why...
Women have different hormones than men. Our muscles are not going to naturally get as big as theirs are.
A healthy young male secretes 15 to 20 times more testosterone, than women that are of similar age.
Testosterone plays a huge role in muscle building, which means that you’re not just going to just all the sudden bulk and not know what happened.
This is true, no matter how much weight you’re lifting. Your muscles will grow, but it will not grow as fast as the male will, because he has more testosterone.
Because of this, bulking is not something you have to worry about, unless you purposefully bulk.
Now that we have that out-of-the-way,
let’s talk about what your training program should look like if you are wanting to sculpt.
The way that I program to sculpt muscles is a mixture of low rep and high rep over a course of time. To be clear, when I say over the course of time I do mean over the course of TIME. This isn't a 12 week sprint here. But, that's a different topic.
Here’s what I mean in regards to rotations of low vs high reps. For the first four weeks I might do a 4x10 then for the next three weeks do a 5x6 then for the next four weeks do a 3x15 then I go back down to 4x8.
During these rotations, we are doing a mixture of weightlifting and weighted cardio.
The cardio piece is not as heavy as the weight lifting piece. I include cardio because it is a integral part of a healthy program. But since we need are looking to sculpt muscle, this is why we utilize the weights while getting the benefits of cardio.
It's important to know that the cardio we will be doing is not HIIT level training, but it is also not LISS level training. It is right there in the middle of those.
Now that we’ve got rotations and wraps out of the way, what about exercises?
Let’s split it up talking about weight training days first, then weighted cardio days.
On weight training days, I always start the workout off with a compound movement. The rest of the workout is based off of that compound movement. I will either choose other exercises that compliment and progressively overload the muscles that were utilized in that initial compound movement. This means that there will be a mix of antagonistic or protagonist super-sets, single sets, or tri-sets.
Now, mind you, those are not all done at once. Everything compliments that initial compound movement. The compound movement chosen will not always be the same. Meaning, we will not always start with squats, nor will we always start with a thruster.
The exercises that I use across the programming are very similar because we are working specifically on muscle sculpting and not just doing a workout to do a workout.
That doesn’t make the workouts boring. Because there’s about 5,672 ways to create sets and different exercises to get maximum benefit.
What about nutrition when training to sculpt?
This is an excellent question that I get quite often.
Unless you are underweight, I have my clients eat at baseline level for sculpting. What that means is I figure their calorie target based on their individual markers and have them eat at that maintenance level.
Maintenance level is the level of caloric intake that you would take in to maintain exactly where you are weight wise.
If a gal is underweight or if she does want to build a bit more muscle and not just sculpt; I will have her eat in a bit of a surplus.
Typically will do this in 3 to 4 week segments and then come back to maintenance.
Each person’s nutritional target is so different from another that I can’t just say eat 2000 calories a day because some women have target calories of 2100 or 2500 cal per day while other women that are smaller may have 1900 to 2100 target calories per day.
It is so individualized that I will not put out specific numbers. But, here is what I will say. You as an individual will need to eat at maintenance calories for where you are at this moment.
So, how can you apply all of this information to what you are doing right at this moment?
Are you following a specific plan or are you looking up free workouts on Pinterest? If you are not following a specific plan specific to your goals, it’s time to buy one.
Whether it is my Refined By Iron Method, which is specific for garage gym owners; or working with me one-on-one you need to buy a program that is specific to this goal.
Next, check out your nutrition. If you work with me one on one or are you buy the Refined By Iron Method, you will learn how to address your nutritional needs at the level you are currently.
If you want real sculpted results which you can get without selling your soul by the way. You need to be following a program that is specific to these goals because there is a right way and a wrong way to do that.
Want a plan that gives step by step instruction to get the results you're looking for in your garage gym? Head over to the Throw in your email in the box at the bottom of this page and I will send you a 25% off code!
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