When I stumbled upon this little video of a celebrity trainer showing how to achieve a celebrity’s upper body, I was flabbergasted. If you believe this trainer, to look like this particular celebrity you need to lift three-pound weights for 10-15 reps and use microscopically thin resistance bands. We wouldn’t want you to break a nail! And heaven forbid you “bulk up,” the authoritative male trainer warns us. What the f*ck?
Seriously – I thought this kind of misinformation was just legend at this point.
But then I realized that it makes perfect sense. The vast majority of models, actresses, etc. are very thin, with no visible muscle definition. That “workout” will not produce any muscle to speak of, and that’s actually by design. In Celebrity Land, muscle is bad.
The paradox is that, in my experience, most women want muscle definition. They want to look lean and fit. They want to have delts that pop, calves that beg for a skirt, and triceps that stand out. So why do women follow workouts that don’t build any muscle?
Because the messages the media sends to women about strength training and muscle are wrong.
How to REALLY Get Ripped
Like I said, I believe women aspire to be lean and have a hard body. Ripped. Fit. Feminine. They don’t want to look like a bodybuilder, but they’d love some definition in their arms, shoulders, legs, and butt. Unfortunately, the images and messages we’re fed in the media don’t support these goals.
But maybe you’re already following celebrities who have athletic physiques, such as Jamie Eason or another Oxygen Magazine model. These women, along with Crossfit games competitors, are excellent examples of athletic physiques who work full time at their sport/profession. You don’t have to train full time or be as shredded as an athlete to attain your ideal body. You simply need to follow a few principles in your workouts.
Women have been lied to about how to get buff. Here are the facts:
- You need to lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy does not make you look bulky like a man; women have only a tiny fraction of the hormone testosterone, which contributes to guys getting big. Women who have huge muscles have been using steroids. We’re just not naturally capable of getting that big.To put it in perspective: I am 5’3” and weigh 111 pounds. I’ve been lifting weights for over 15 years and lift as heavy as I can. Yet I’m still a very petite woman and think I look badass – feminine looking and athletic. It’s the difference between being thin without muscle and having muscle definition. There are many, many women who can lift much more weight than me and look equally petite. The mantra, “light weights, high reps” is a farce. If you use three- or five-pound weights you’ll stop seeing results almost immediately. That’s because your muscles have adapted to the stimulus – they know what’s coming and don’t have to work hard to repair themselves. To continue seeing progress – to get ripped – you must keep increasing the weight. And the more years your strength train the harder you must try to stimulate growth. This basic principle of weightlifting is called progressive overload. The same principle applies to a skinny-ass resistance band that looks like a pencil. Feel the burn? Great! After a couple weeks you’d better get yourself a heavier band or you’re just wasting your time.
- You cannot spot reduce with strength training. If you see claims of banishing belly fat with an ab exercise, that’s misleading. You need to eat clean in order to lose body fat. And you won’t see muscle definition until you lose excess fat.
- Doing only high reps every workout wastes time. This might be the most common mistake women make. You should integrate low reps (3-6), moderate reps (8-12), and high reps (15-20) into your workouts or you’ll find your progress at a standstill. This is not complicated, and if you keep a training journal you’ll know what to do every session. You can either integrate different reps each session or you can change it up every few weeks. If you are unsure of how to design a strength-training program then let’s chat – I provide virtual coaching.
- Being thin isn’t the end-all-be-all. If you’re thin without enough lean muscle mass (a.k.a skinny fat) then you’re at risk for some surprising and scary health risks. I’m betting that many of the models and celebrities out there today are skinny fat, and they’re missing out: Not only is muscle definition beautiful, but it increases your metabolism and burns fat. Being strong protects you from injury too and has been shown to be a factor in longevity.
If you’re not seeing progress, take a look at the advice you’re following. Are you relying on celebrity trainers, paid to make their clients look thin on camera, or knowledgeable, real-world pros who help people like you build lean muscle mass?
I’ve been writing this blog for three years – I’ve got your back. Very soon I’ll be making videos, with the Workout Nirvana stamp of approval, for both my clients and my readers. I spend a big chunk of my time studying the latest exercise science and research, so you can feel confident that I’ll show you how to get results the right way.