Fat Loss Training for Women

Training for Women vs Men on Fat Loss

The differences between training programs for men and women have little to do with exercises and technique.  For the most part exercise choices for men and women are primarily the same.  A good dosage of squats, deadlifts, bench, pulls and overhead pressing are fantastic for both men and women.  These lifts help get us strong and capable, not to mention they are functional movement patterns and target big muscle groups.

That makes them key players in any fat loss program.  A lot of muscles used with enough intensity equals a lot of over calories burned and muscle stimulated to gain strength and size.

Women do have a much different physiologic makeup than us men, which changes the parameters of training programs for the ladies.

Increased Volume + Less Rest

For starters, women have a great ability to tolerate or clear a lot of lactic acid, either by not generating a lot of it in the first place or increased clearance levels from the tissues.  This makes a women able to handle increased amounts of volume without incurring a lot of extra fatigue.  Versus your average male that can't withstand doing multiple sets of exercises without at least building up to a good level of conditioning to be able to clear lactic acid levels faster.  Not that it can't be done, but it's less common and must be engrained in a training program.


Shorter Rest Intervals


For this reason women need to have shorter rest intervals in-between sets to avoid boredom and hit exercises either more frequently or for more sets and reps than a man to achieve optimal results.  Again this depends on training age and ability level, but in general this is true.

2013 CrossFit Games (Image Courtesy of CrossFit’s Facebook Page)

This is one reason why more advanced gals in Crossfit tend to be lean and jacked!  They're just training at an optimal level most of the time.  They're using short rest periods and can handle high amounts of volume without getting hurt or losing muscle mass.


Diesel Engine

Women thrive on a fat based metabolism.  It makes sense physiologically that women hold more fat than men, so that their utilization of fat based metabolism tends to be greater than that of a man.  This is the reason why more women do better on a higher fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet.

It's more optimal for a woman to run off of fat, most of the time, with carbohydrates added into the diet as recovery and performance fuel.


Anaerobic Cardio

For leaning out the legs and hips, women should be performing high intensity work for the legs, such as sprints, sled drags, prowler sprints, combat cycling, etc.  These types of explosive activities burn through bodyfat quickly and really help define a woman lower leg musculature.

These types of activities work especially well when paired with traditional weight lifting movements as well.


One topic that wasn't mentioned in the video is the topic of recovery post-workout.  Most women have a good boost of estrogen and progesterone which helps keep their inflammatory responses down from tough workouts, which enables them to not get crazy DOMS or muscle soreness post workout.

This however does not mean that women recover a lot quicker from tough workouts, it just means they don't get as sore.  Research is still investigating this phenomenon to show if this is a helpful or hinders muscle recovery, but in this case of fat loss it can be helpful as you can have a woman train with a bit more frequency without feeling completely broken.

Women still need a good amount of time to rest and recover from hard workouts despite the lack of feeling sore.  Therefore alternating days of high intensity training and lower intensity or frequency can help a woman still pursue performance based goals, while whittling away at their bodyfat levels.

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Jess Howland

Jesse "Captain Smash" Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold's Gym. He's a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.