Iurgi de excursion

26 abril 2010

Personal trainer for a female

I have a lot of friends who have asked me about exercises, diets and others. Finally I started to "reuse" (copy and paste) same email that I wrote 3 years ago with all the basics that they needed to know. Most girls have same concerns about their bodies, so it was suitable for most with just some little modifications.

It's somehow what I would explain to most girls if they would come to a gym where I were working as Personal Trainer. Everything explained in a very simple way, even simplistic for the real connoisseur, but more than enough for the beginner. Here it goes again in its most updated version.

First of all, you need to understand your body. How it works and what is attainable through training and what it is impossible. Let's start from something that should be obvious but some girls forget. Do not compare with guys nor how they train. For example, the essential fat for girls is higher than for guys. A guy can live properly even with 4% of fat mass and girls need more than 10-12%. Why? To keep on producing all their hormones, because there are differences in the way of working of both bodies and even female "body shapes" are somehow mainly fat.

Why do girls tend to "store" fat in some localized areas, usually their hip and thighs? This is the most common area and what most girls worry about + what in Hong Kong is called "byebye muscles", the triceps. When a woman gets pregnant she must be "working properly" if she does not want to hurt the baby, so in the old times, cave dwellers, when famines were common, a woman who could store fat for the future had better chances to grow healthy kids. Where to store it? As closer to the sexual organs as possible. If required in the pregnancy the body is able to mobilize all this fat to keep on producing hormones and feeding the kid, actually it is a lot less dangerous than fat in the belly, more related with heart diseases and others. But on the other hand the body tries to keep that fat the rest of the time. So when girls get on diet they tend to loose weight everywhere faster than in those areas. How fat is consumed/burned can not be modified, it is defined by your genes. Localized fat reduction is not possible but with surgery with all its problems and sometimes not even that way, as the body may try to fill again the "gap" as soon as possible.

So, what to do? Try to improve the whole body and not just focus on this area. You will start loosing weight in other areas, but finally everything reduces.

I have mentioned before our previous life as cave dwellers, that also marked the standard taste feeling. In those times fat was difficult to get, so our taste buds started to love it. Our brain also links sweet taste with high calorie foods, also scarce in those times. So for a kid unless he/she has learned to eat properly the "easiest" foods are hamburgers or ice creams and similar. The problem is that this kind of food are not scarce anymore but our feelings will need some more hundreds of years to evolve.

Your calorie consumption depends on your metabolism and body structure. The faster your metabolism and the greater your muscle size the faster you burn calories. Each kilogram of lean muscle more means around 100 calories burned more everyday just to feed that muscle, not doing any exercise, just because of living. That's the reason why big people need more food. "Metabolism" can be slower or faster. For sure you know some people who can eat a lot of food and they don't get fat even without doing any exercise. Why? Let's say their metabolism is faster, they burn more calories.

So what should you do? Try to gain some muscle all around your body, accelerate your metabolism and control your feeding.

When I am talking about gaining muscle I do not mean to increase your biceps and back and look like Conan or a bodybuilder. Some light resistance training. Exercise just using your own body or very little weights. Toning up your body. Strengthen your abdominal muscles, your legs and ass, chest and a little bit your arms, shoulders and back. Muscle weights a lot more than fat so although you gain muscle the appearance is not gonna be bulky, but if you start to lift heavy weights and that's not the objective. Actually the goal is just to put some muscle instead of some fat in the upper body and strengthen and slim your legs. You should do exercise almost everyday. Not a lot.

Different options. You can join a gym and attend cardiovascular classes (aerobic, spinning...) and do some weight training, on your own or bodypump classes and similar options. Some people really need the fun of the group activities, music, schedules... to push themselves. Some others are really regular and they do prefer to train on their own. If you are one of them you can jog, swim or do any other cardiovascular activity two, three days per week. It is important to remember that you will not start to burn fats till well after 20minutes of continuous aerobic exercise, so keep it easy pace (your fitness level should mark it, no need for heavy breathing nor high heart rate if fat loss is the goal) and try to spend at least 40min. Also learn some exercises to do at home, just 20-30 minutes even in front of the TV, those days that you are not running, etc. You would need some basic inexpensive material: a mat, couple of exercise bands and a small exercise ball is a nice set. With them you would be able to strengthen your body. A lot of girls have problems cause their abs are not strong enough, weak inner legs, no rotator muscles, incorrect positioning due to high heels... Which creates unbalances and pain in the back and others.

Metabolism. The way to accelerate it is mainly by gaining muscle and feeding. When you eat you are making your body work, so it is consuming calories. Different food require more or less digestion. Fiber, present in vegetables, fruit and integral (whole-grain bread f.e.) food. You can not really digest it, cause we are not cows that can ruminate. But this kind of food is very good for your health. They require long digestion, so more energy is consumed, they clean the digestive system, usually they have lots of vitamins (veggies/fruits), they make you feel full and finally they provide less calories than other foods. That's the reason why usually they should be one of the biggest parts of any person's diet. You also need to eat other carbohydrates: rice, noodles, potatoes... energy to your body. Proteins: fish, meat, milk, eggs... to rebuild tissues (muscle and other organs). Fats: oil, fat of meat... for hormones, dissolve some vitamins. Proportion should be in amount more or less what the pyramid shows:

It's not really so easy if you want to do a real feeding analysis but can give you some clues (the real thing requires calculation by calories of each food, blood sugar levels, etc). Usually people tend to eat a lot more proteins and fats that what they should and the amount of vegetables and fruits is not enough.

Sometimes you skip meals. Bad. Although people think "eyyyy, it is OK, I am eating less-la!" It is not correct. If you skip meals your body "starts to be afraid" and next time you eat it will store more fat just in case and will low down your metabolism. Actually the best thing to do is to eat 5 meals a day (depends in each person, it works for most), little food between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. That way your body is happy all the time, does not feel the need to store fat, you don't feel hungry, your digestion system is working all the time consuming calories, you can eat a little bit less in the big meals and there is less chances for "cravings".

For proper operation you need also water. The best option is to keep a bottle of water on your desk and drink every now and then at the office, while on the street, etc. Not just when you are completely thirsty.

And you need to rest. When you are sleeping your body is repairing herself. It is creating new muscle as response to exercise.

Ready to start a new healthy life. 3, 2, 1, gooooo! ^__^

Pictures by: Mikebaird, Danny Chan