6 Tips to Improve Your Fitness Training Program for Women
There are some differences between men and women that need to be kept in mind when you are a PT. The following are 6 tips every Personal Trainer should keep in mind when coaching women.
1. Be Mindful of Her Position
Some women (and even some men) are self-conscious about their bottoms. If you know your client is, then don’t get her doing deadlifts where everyone has a full on view of her backside. This will cause her to have bad form because she’ll want to minimise her butt sticking out, she won’t be focussed or she’ll decide that she doesn’t like deadlifts. Arrange the bar in a position that allows her to keep her back to the wall and face the gym so there’s no need to be self-conscious.
2. Accept the Reality of PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome)
Even though the symptoms of PMS differ between women, it is a very real condition. Some people aren’t that bothered by it, while others suffer from bloating, cramps, back pain, cravings, and moodiness; which is no fun for anyone. Exercise is great at relieving the symptoms of PMS, so getting a lady to exercise during her period can really improve her mood. Even so, you must respond appropriately if your client tells you that she is on her period. You can really go a long way with some compassion, while downplaying the condition is a certain way to lose their trust and their business.
3. Everybody (and Every Body) is Different
Even though this sounds obvious, not everyone really considers what it means that every body is different.
More often than not, a female client is going to be shorter than a male client. As such, you need to be willing to make a few adjustments. If you have a 5’2” client and you’ve got her bench pressing, then maybe you should give her a step she can have under her feet.
Without some help, keeping her feet on the floor could result in your client arching her back. As you know, it’s not ideal if she keeps her feet on the bench so get some props you can put either side of the bench.
The Size of Machines
Something else to keep in mind is that some of the machines in a gym aren’t good for smaller people. Even several of the seated upper body exercise machines can put clients without the proper torso length, arm span, or shoulder span at risk.
It can be difficult to hold free weights with small hands. The deadlift of a client with really small hands can become very limited. This isn’t to downplay the importance of grip strength, but you should understand that asking your client to deadlift with a regular bar when they are 5 foot is going to minimise what they can lift.
Being aware of the problem with plyometrics is of extra importance with women who have large boobs. Large-breasted women commonly wear two sports bras to keep supported and securely contained. Even so, this might not be enough with some drills. If a client forgets her sports bra then she shouldn’t do plyos, but a particularly large-breasted client might appreciate being asked if she wants to avoid plyos. Don’t say the reason why you are asking, simply enquire whether or not she likes plyometric exercises or would rather focus on something else.
4. Urinary Incontinence is More Common Than you Think
Be careful when it comes to getting pregnant, post-pregnant, and older women to bounce. Even something as simple as pogo jumps could cause a little leakage. If this happens to them, they won’t be in a hurry to try you or their exercises again.
On top of this, listen when a woman who is generally up for trying anything tells you she doesn’t like an exercise – especially if it’s a plyometric exercise. It could be that whenever she does the exercise, she pees a little, which isn’t a good feeling!
5. They have Less Muscle
When it comes to female clients, you’ll might be getting them to build muscle for the very first time.
Not only is that prospect important and exciting, but it means you need to temper what you are asking of them. Most male clients are going to have no problem giving you 10 pushups the first time you see them, but some women might. Manage your expectations of your clients, don’t embarrass them or belittle them but also don’t underestimate them. I would certainly be offended if a guy assumed I couldn’t do press-ups and I have worked with many women who have excellent form and huge strength. Remember – every body is different.
You should absolutely get your female clients to do push-ups, but instead of putting them in a situation where they might fail, start out with success and building from there. It is always easy to add on another set!
Deadlifts are another exercise where it’s obvious there’s a difference in muscle masses between the sexes. As well as having my own custom bar, I also have a 5kg training bar, and a set of 10 and 25 pound plates with the diameter of a standard 45 pound plate. As such my clients can start deadlifting with proper form from just 32 pounds instead of 135 pounds you’d get from the typical 45 pound bar and plates. This gives women who wouldn’t normally get to deadlift, the chance to do so. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have this equipment, then you can use kettlebells or boxes and pins on a power rack to shift the bar to the appropriate height.
Women are not motivated in the slightest by negativity and yelling. Some women might be, but they are few and far between. Many women just don’t respond well to yelling.
As their trainer, you are a significant part of how much self-confidence a female client has, and how well they perceive themselves. If you take a negative approach to them, then you’ll just be throwing another woman on the pile of 97% of women who aren’t happy with how they look. Take a positive approach, leave them feeling better, and help them to reach their fitness goals. This gives them the confidence they need to continue to improve other aspects of their lives.