Constructing a Fitness Femme Fatale

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Do Women Need to Train Differently than Men?

Since I began training in 2002, I’ve worked with clients of all types, ranging from kids who have never touched a weight to professional athletes to everyone in between. As I’ve gotten better and more well known in the industry, higher-level clients have come to seek me out, and that includes models, actors, and even a very healthy number of other trainers.  Things have changed a bit over the last 9 years.

However, despite where on the spectrum of athleticism and training experience they’ve fallen, on thing has remained pretty constant over the past decade is this: the vast majority of my clients have been women. 

Nearly 65%, in fact.

I’m not sure why.  It could be because women in general are more likely to hire a trainer, and perhaps the fairer sex is therefore over-presented in the client base of nearly every trainer.

Perhaps it’s the area I work in, or that most of my business has been referral, and women seem to take word of mouth a bit more seriously than men.

While I can’t say for certain why the majority of my clients have been women, I can say that I’ve come to regard myself as an expert in training women, and—perhaps more importantly—recognize and address the concerns many when have about training.

And that’s what I’ll attempt to do in this post…but we’re not going to cover some things you might be thinking.

You see, this post is written under the assumption that you know the basics.

I have to believe that most people reading are aware that women don’t immediately get “bulky” from training with weights.

I know that you’re educated enough to know that you don’t have the same physiology as a guy, so you aren’t going to turn into she-hulk.  I refuse to believe that anyone reading my blog still feels that being a “cardio queen” is the key to the body you want.

I consider those battles won and over, and outside of the lip service paid above, I won’t touch on them overmuch.

That said, we’re going to cover some information that’s relevant to people who know the basics and want to know how train outside of that.

Which means that this post will be focused on a single question:

Do women need to train differently than men?

This is a question that I’ve answered several thousand of times over the course of my career—and to be honest, it’s a question I’ve been getting A LOT lately.  (I know who’s to blame for that, but more on that tomorrow).

So, let me just answer you and put it to bed.

The simple answer is “no, they don’t.”  But that’s hardly satisfactory, is it?

Certainly, it’s true, in the most basic sense of the word; however, simple answers to complicated questions very rarely help anyone, and so we must look closely.

The more accurate answer is: “It really depends.”

Which leads me into my point…

There is a tremendous difference between “need” and “should.”

And so, to lead into some information, while women certainly don’t “need” to train differently than man, there are numerous reasons that women can—and, often, should—train differently than men.

Look, before people start jumping on me, here’s my concession statement:  yes, women and men can train pretty much the same way and achieve their goals.  In fact, I’d say that men and women can and should be doing about 90% of things the same way.

Which means, that the only need to be doing about 10% of things differently.  Doesn’t seem like much, but as the old saying goes, the Devil’s in the details, right?

One of the things we’ve seen with fat loss programming is that making changes to just 10% of the program can increase results dramatically – if that’s the case, is it really so unreasonable that would apply to gender specific training?  I think not.

Here’s the real deal:  I believe that ALL training should be goal dependent, and therefore all programs should be designed with that goal in mind.  I mean, for starters, I don’t advise that people try to turn Final Phase Fat Loss into a mass gaining program—and you have no idea how often people ask me how to do that.

I’ve designed countless specialization programs for a number of bodybuilding programs, because I simply believe that if you want big arms, you need a program designed just for that.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that because women (speaking generally) tend to have different goals than men, there should be (speaking generally) a few differences in programming.

I’m going to discuss the main reasons why, and cover the differences in program that I tend to favor in order to help women construct their sexiest body.

Developmental Concerns and Exercise Selection

We’ve all got the same parts (I’m talking muscles, not genitals) but we don’t all want them to look the same way.   Which means that when we’re looking at programming for women, we have to take into account how they want the finished product to look.  Here are the top three muscle groups that improper training can negatively affect from a visual standpoint.

Sexy Legs vs. “Sick Wheels”

I’ll preface this by saying that I happen to love chicks with muscular, athletic legs.  I dig it when a girl has big quads or a nice split along the side of her leg delineating the hamstring/quad region.  Soccer players and gymnasts, I’m your guy.

That said, most women don’t like this, and they certainly don’t want it.  In fact, despite having explained my love of legs to my clients over the years, they remain stubborn and ardently opposed to the idea that “big” legs can be sexy.

Well, I submit the following as evidence to the contrary:

589260530FACT: Roman <3’s muscular legs.

ALL THAT SAID, it’s their body, not mine, and it’s my job to find ways to help them get into great shape without building up big legs.

While I covered that women don’t get “huge” just from lifting weights, all muscle will respond to weight training with a mild hypertrophic response, and given the way jeans are cut today, even adding a ¼ inch to a clients thighs can be devastating.  (Ever have a model call you up and berate you for rendering her $400 Helmut Lang jeans useless?  Not a good day).

Here’s one of the exercises I avoid for women:  the forward lunges.  While I don’t want to encourage too much favoritism or demonize the forward lunge, it must be said that there are certain exercises that put TOO much emphasis on some muscles.

For lunges, we go back, not forward.

Forward lunges place a lot more emphasis on the section of the quadriceps at the base of the knee—most specifically the vastus medialus—especially eccentric emphasis. Think about it: when you lunge forward, your lead leg has to “catch” your entire body weight and stop/absorb your momentum, and the muscles around the knee will do the majority of the work.

Conversely, when you lunge backwards, your glutes get a lot more work (on both the moving and non-moving leg) and the section of the quads that run up and down the length of the femur (rectus femoris) get a bit more work.

By favoring reverse lunges over forward, you can still build strength and definition.

Check out this picture of my friend (and soon to be cover model) Flavia DelMonte:


flaviaAs you can see, Flavia doesn’t have scrawny chicken legs, but neither does she have a problem shopping for jeans.

Her legs look great and there is even definition between the muscles, but you don’t see the outer thigh development or any “overhang” over huge vastus medialis around her knee.

Instead, she looks strong, but very feminine.  (Obviously, the enhanced femininity may be due, in part, to the high heels.  Just sayin’)

Again, while I happen to think our friend in the hand stand picture I posted above looks hella-sexy, Flavia’s legs are more in line with what the majority of my female clients would like to attain.

And, to reiterate, a big part of that is replacing forward lunges with reverse lunges the majority of the time.

To illustrate a contrast, let’s swing things back over to the guys for a second.

As you can tell, I think the the opposite is true for men.

Which is to say, guys tend to do well with forward lunges—for those same reasons.  Forward lunges are great for developing the musculature around the knee, which peaks out from the bottom of shorts and just looks more impressive.  As guys tend to want “sick wheels,” and tend to worry a bit less about this is the way to go.

Now, an important distinction – this does NOT mean that women should do NO forward lunges.

It’s important to have exercise variety, and forward lunges are a great exercise.  Training the muscle aroudn the knee is important, as long as we don’t over-emphasize it.  Most good programs will have a few sets of forward lunges.

Overall, for women who want strong, shapely legs and a nice but without building up lots of quad muscle, it’s often a good idea to use reverse lunges in place of forward lunges fairly frequently.


Another area where men and women should differ their training somewhat is the midsection.

Certain abdominal exercises are better than others, and we’ve all got favorites—I’m not asking you to abandon any.

Instead of thinking about which exercises to do, I’d rather talk about how to do them.  In this case, I’m talking about loading.

The simple fact of the matter is, with very few exceptions, I don’t think women should be doing weighed abdominal work—especially with any high level of volume.

In fact, I’ll take a step further and say that women should avoid high volume abdominal training overall, at least with dynamic movements.

You see, like any other muscle, if you subject your rectus abdominal muscle to heavy load and/or high volume, you’ve got a recipe for muscle growth—that is, it’ll make your abs thicker and more developed.

For guys, this isn’t so bad.  A thick set of abs can help you look leaner by popping your abs out a bit even when you’re not shredded.

So, why doesn’t this apply to women?

Well, because it really only happens when you’re about 10% or below.  Women—even lean women—are almost never that lean.

Here’s the thing: having thick or overdeveloped abs is a huge problem for the female physique.  When a woman is in very lean condition, it won’t make much of a difference.  You may even see a bit more of the linea alba, which is the mid-line of your abs.

What happens if she gains some fat?

Well, then you have thick abs with fat on TOP of them, and the result is something like this:


While I certainly don’t mean to pick on Britney, I think her physique teaches us a valuable lesson.  There IS too much of a good thing; and in this case, that thing is abdominal development.

The moral of the story is that thick abs lead to a physique that will ONLY look good if you’re below 14% bodyfat (as an estimate), and that’s something that is murderously difficult to maintain.

For women, I don’t advise doing any weighted abdominal work.  Additionally, I also prefer not to do much in the way of dynamic work (exercises that move you through a range of motion).  Oh, sure, a few sets of crunches a week is fine, and you might even get something out of it.  However, I prefer focus on stability exercises like Palloff presses, and rocking planks.

Pallof Press

Rocking Plank

Make these movements the mainstays of your abdominal training, and you’ll be able to develop a strong, lean, sexy core without having to worry about overdevelopment.

Things Men and Women Should do the Same

As I mentioned, I think that 90% of things that women do, men should do, and vice versa.  I think men and women should train the following muscles pretty much the same way:

  • Back
  • Chest
  • Glutes
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps (guys will always do more, but that’s because they’re guys)
  • Calves

I could write more about all of these, but I think it’s obvious that a sexy back looks great in a dress, and sculpted shoulders are all the rage in Hollywood.

NOTE – you may notice I left “triceps” off that list.  I have an entire blog post forthcoming on the tricky triceps for women.  Enough comments and you’ll get it!

We’ll talk more about all of this in the coming days, as Women’s Fitness Week continues here are RFS.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned above, I think we’re all past the phobias about women and weight training, and I hope this post has served to drive home that women en masse SHOULD be training with weights.

The goal here was to give you more insight as to HOW to do that.

Like I said, there’s a lot of carryover between male and female training.  It’s the little differences that can go a long way to getting you towards your goal.  After all, the Devil’s in the details.

Let’s get your thoughts on your favorite exercises for women, and YOUR definition of a sexy female body, and I’ll be back more information about building the perfect body–for both men and women.  (Including my post on triceps training!)

PLUS – if you’re looking for a brand new fitness plan JUST for women, check out Flavia’s program, CURVALICIOUS

It’s designed to hit every part of your body, and has a special workout just for shapely legsMmmmm.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • Ana T. Garcia

    In regards to present dayfashion, the fitness world has created a craze of certain items such as gym tank tops and yoga pants that are worn as casual wear by many people on a daily basis, whether they attend a gym or not.

    weight lifting shorts.

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  • Christi Raphael

    Triceps, please!!!! Come on, you gotta share your secrets to tight tri’s for chicks!!!

  • Maria Fenn

    I really like your post thanks for sharing…

  • Mary Smith

    I think on the whole,this post is awesome.Like this so much.Thank you so much for this.
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  • Stayfeminine

    Flavia does not look feminine to me. She’s too developed and her abs are boxy. A slim, smooth waist, and lithe, elegant limbs are feminine. She’s still womanly with her implants and big hair, but her musculature is pushing her body’s masculine limits., IMHO.

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  • Augie S

    Years ago when Waterbury wrote Huge in a Hurry he was asked if he had plans of writing a version for women. He replied that for women he’d change the title to Sexy in a Hurry and put a woman on the cover. The only reason to write a men’s vs. women’s version of a book would be to make money and exploit ignorance and lack of knowledge at the expense of your target audience.

    I remember when Schuler/Cosgrove pulled this stunt with their New Rule of Lifting series. They added Forsythe as an author so there was a woman listed and failed miserably trying to justify why an entire book was necessary for women to use NROL. They caught a lot of crap for years from peers and people in the fitness industry for pulling that stunt.

    For the record I enjoy the NROL series but NROL for Women never should’ve been written. It was a dbag move.

    • Even if the changes are minimal, I wouldn’t say it’s a dbag move.

      I mean, looking at the numbers, women are obviously going to buy a book that is geared towards women.

      If your goal is to spread your message and help as many people as possible, it makes sense to split the message into as more parts and write each one for a specific audience.

      To be clear, I think a woman could get great results using NROL. Possibly results similar to those from NROLfW. But, the average woman is exponentially more likely to pick up the latter, simply because it says “for women” on the cover. I’m not making random statements, btw; if you check the BookScan numbers, NROLfW outsold the original by like 4:1 in the women’s demo. That’s 4 times as many women being helped by similar information, merely because the presentation is more in line with that they would like to read.

      The first rule of writing is to know your audience.

      Based on our previous discussions, you seem to abhor marketing; and since the desire to sell more books is fundamentally a business/marketing decision, my assumption is that you’re going to disagree with me here.

      But, I think Lou and Alwyn are fine having caught some flack if they were able to help more people.

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  • gymwolf

    Maybe it’s just me, but thru the years ( i’ve been training a long time with all sorts of internet programs mostly for “guys”) heavy,sprinting etc.,but no one ever mentions a womans monthly cycle. i always feel weaker and have cravings the week before my cycle. Maybe it is a topic people feel uncomfortable talking about but I think it should be considered in program design for women.

  • Michelle

    My favorite exercise is the sumo squat, which works wonders for the inner thighs! A sexy woman is just confident with her body…

  • Labl

    Wow! I found this article because I was researching about why my lower abdomen is getting so bulky. It’s becoming rounded instead of flat and now I know why. I have been doing 4 sets of 25 weighted decline crunches with 35lbs! I am about to cry. My abs are bigger instead of flatter and I’ve been working my butt off. What do I do to fix this??? Please reply Roman.

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  • Thank you so much for the great article. I tend to put muscle on easily, but I also store fat in my legs, compared to my stomach. I’ll definitely be going for the reverse lunges. I’ve always had an hour glass figure, Waist 26, Hips 36, until I started doing “Insanity”. I love “Insanity”, but something in the workout thickened by waist measurements by a whole inch, and all this during my leanest time (too lean, had to gain), so I know for a fact it wasn’t fat. Going to try the exercises you posted above…I appreciate all your time in posting all this great information!

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  • Natcha

    Great post Roman. I just learned about the difference between forward and backward lunges today. I absolutely hate how big my legs are, perhaps they are genetically built to be the sizes of your legs. Jeans shopping is a nightmare.

    I still love training my abs though. Flavia’s program trains her abs with lots of volume 5 days a week and my waist has always been bulky, with natural tendency to store everything on my thigh that seems to be fine. I rather like that the little horizontal cuts in my rectus abdominis show up at higher body fat even though my waist may be 1 or 2 inches larger than it should be. Would you write about stomach vacuum for women because that does decrease waist circumference?

  • I have worn heels since I was very young. I had back surgery in 2002 on my lower spine I had de generated disks and I had my tail bone and my L 4 and L 5 vertebrae fused together with a plate and 6 screws. It looks like a door hinge. Since then I have tried to wear heels 1 inch to 3 inches. I suffer intotorable pain regardless. I have very weak stomach muscels and need a tummy tuck from giving birth to 3 huge babies before I was 21 years of age. In 1997 I had a blockage in my large intestines and the doctors did an exploratory abdominal surgery. I was sliced open from my stermen to my pubic bone. What a huge incision like 14 to 18 inches it was done poorly I might say no iner stitches just stabled and of course it did not hold and it herniated entirely. Next step was a hernia repair done with a mesh put under my scar. Well that failed to. Now I am stuck with a big scar with many hernias in it. I am not very happy I have suffered with problems since I was a teenage mother. I had nurses in groups who would enter my room just to view my horrific stretch marks at 16 years of age. I guess it is fair to say I have had poor body image problems most of my life. I am now 61 years old disabled from fail back surgery and on Medicare. I need help from some where. All these articles say calf muscels need work well my are fine my arches are great. My back hurts like heck because my core muscle are cut in the front and the back. I am a attractive women who looks much younger than my true age. But with just Medicare coverage I can’t get much help from the medical community. It is so heartbreaking to wear nice clothes with only sneakers or flipflobs.. Check me out on facebook.send me any suggestions (nice one please. ) Any ideas on workouts that might help me will be appreciated. It is not all about vanity but feeling normal. Thanks for reading this I know there are many others in the world worse off than me ard more deserving but I have been suffering for almost 45 years and pray someone can help me be able to feel better again. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

  • B-Grrrrl

    “…women should avoid high volume abdominal training overall, at least with dynamic movements.”

    WOAH!! The bedrock of my entire being has just shifted under my feet. Here I was pounding out crunches, v-sits, leg lifts, leg drops, fit ball crunches, fit ball passes…you name it all in the aim of getting abs like Jessica Ennis (Team GB reference there folks), but you’re saying unless I eat like an Olympian I am NEVER going to get there?


    Oh well. On the upside, at least that leaves me more time in my workout for sculpting enviable glutes.

  • Jennifer Millslang

    I just tried the reverse lunge and could immediately feel my glutes and outer thigh working (main problem area for me) – thanks!! One of my favorite exercises that my trainer showed me is the Frankenstein exercise I find it works my legs and core really well and you can do them anywhere :)

  • Eltony1

    Hey Roman,

    great article looking forward to more, I wish it was true what you say about the knowledge out there that woman dont get bulky but I get that statement/question nearly once a week at the gym still even in this day and age!! Sad but true – I like you are trying to change that as much as possible – great work man.

  • kim

    I appresiate your post. I’ve always done men’s workouts because i believe in muscle mass.  Women need it more because they lose more as they age. Plus weightlifting preserves bone density. My big legs and my triceps are my favorites. thx

  • Fffernandez99

    KB swings

  • Fffernandez99

    RDL’s and single DL’s

  • TC Lee

    Hey Roman great blog post on the differences on the training between genders. Especially like the one on how you explain why a female may want to avoid the forward lunges. 

  • Zeymon

    I loved this blog but could not see the last video

  • miss squat

    my favorite 4 women is THE SQUAT!! Yeah Yayyyy!!!! :)))

  • DrDani

    Roman:  I AM one of those genetically ‘gifted’ women who gain muscle mass just by LOOKING at a weight (or at least it seems).   I have long suspected that the key for a gal like me who builds bulk fast is to train with moderate to lightER (not LIGHT) weights, with higher reps and little to no rests.  Of course the key would be more workouts of much shorter duration and higher frequency and intensity. 

    Could you post a sample workout with suggested  weights,  rep range, and rest duration for the gat prone to bulk?

    This is my Holy Grail search.


  • Metod Goodworks

    I love EVERYTHUNG you wrote, Roman!

  • Lori K

    So thankful to leave the hundreds of crunches behind and focus on the planks!  Loved the video demonstrations you included!  Thanks so much for keeping us so informed and focused!

  • Chris

    Sooo, can a girl get a sexy six pack like Flavia just by getting your body fat low and doing stability exercises?  I thought you had to do weighted exercises to build the muscles there?

    •  You’ll need SOME weighted exercises.

      My point is that it’s best to get lean and then develop the abs, rather than develop them then try to get lean.

  • Personally, I love muscle definition. My brother recently told me that my legs are too muscular, but he likes the VS model look on a woman — I obviously do not share his point of view… :) 
    Attached is what I’d go for. I absolutely love her legs.

    • Sky, I must wholeheartedly concur with your assessment =)

  • Dtonneman

    Thank you so much for this.  I have always believed that we can and should train like the guys and have a hard time backing off of the heavy stuff to do higher reps/lower weights just to switch things up a bit.  I also want to thank you for the suggestion about the lunges.  I have larger legs to begin with, so the idea of getting them smaller may just not be realistic, but I do want them leaner and more cut.  Other than the backward lunges, do you have any suggestions about ways to lean out the legs (yeah I know, spot reduction ain’t gonna happen) and get more of the cut?  I love my upper body (which leans out rather easily), but my lower body has always been a challenge.  Thanks

  • Wendy

    Favourite exercise for anybody – DEADLIFTS!

    •  Deadlifts may be the answer for 90% of problems in the world.

  • Just Jen

    Super-interesting and helpful. I definately have thick/blocky abs…that in conjunction with my sway-back makes it look like I have a pouch, no matter how lean I am. FRUSTRATING! I’m going to lay off the abs a bit and see what comes of it. Sexy=toned back and shoulders! I row and row and row to achieve that.

  • Cuzsis_g

    Always learn something new when I read your blog. Going to add those backwards lunges in there (although I’m not personally fussed about “big” legs.) Thanks!!!

     Personally, as much as I hate working on my upper body (it’s just not that naturally strong for me) I can’t help, but get a giddy little thrill out of chest exercises. Some muscular padding under the “girls” can really go a long way… ;) 

  • Lauren M

    Great article!!! Thanks!

  • Sara Dinkins

    Thank you so much, Roman, for always sharing your knowledge with us! Ok so one of my favorite exercises is the side plank and also the swing lunge! And my definition of a sexy female body would be the physical appearance of any female who exercises regularly and takes care of themselves. As long as they are trying to work out instead of sitting on their ass, they are sexy in my eyes. :-)

  • ERS

    Agreed on all points, but the lunges for sure.. The other thing I found with forward lunges, is that one who is begining or very over weight does not do them correctly due to weakness in the quads, core and glutes. Then injuries to the knees begin because of strain and movement compensations.  Thank you for putting this out there Roman!  Always happy to see that you care about the people.

  • Gazz

    Any girl with firm curvy pair of glutes is a winner. Although sorry roman can’t agree with you about the legs buddy however proportions are a must nothin worse than a big butt with a pair of twigs supporting them

  • Regina

    You are such a geek.  Love you!!  Thanks for all your info. I have gained so much from you and Joel and Flavia.  I’m in better shape at this age than EVER in my entire life.  I love my cheat days, and often they turn into weekends!! but I get right back on track, especially after getting your emails.  woot!

  • Billxedos

    What ab exercises do you recommend for men and how often should we do it each week.

    Thanks for an awesome post. You always deliver great value.

    Keep it coming.

  • Chelsey Lynne Reschke

    Roman, awesome post. The forward vs. Backward lunge explains a lot about the “overhang” I’m seeing.
    Could you PLEASE comment about what I recently read online: is it true that women with a higher proportion of fast twitch muscle fibre will build muscle more like a guy than a woman who has a higher proportion of slow twitch fibres? Without seeing me, i’m telling you this… I feel like I’m a fast gainer and that I SHOULD train differently because I DO put muscle on so damn fast (6lbs in 4 months accidently because I didn’t measure myself once in that time and I was working out with my boyfriend).

    Thanks Roman!

    •  Generally speaking, people who have more fast twitch don’t really gain “more” muscle, the just gain it when exposed to heavy weights. So if you find yourself gaining a bit more muscle than you like, lighten the load.

  • Saretta

    Thank you Roman for the focus on women’s training! This is so useful!

  • Rebeccaspain

    Roman, great post! As a trainer, the majority of my female clients are mothers. When training for great abs I prefer helping my clients engage the transverse abdominals for a flatter midsection. A great exercise for this would be a seated row with a resistance band…on the row back, push the belly button to the spine engaging the TVA. Also, it’s important to check for diastisis recti because certain ab work such as the plank will make the midsection worse.

    •  Great post, Rebecca! Thanks you.

    • Chris

      Any suggestions for ab exercises in that case?  I do have diastasis recti – trying to heal it up via Tupler technique.  So far so good, but worried that it will open back up :P

  • Lynne

    Thx for the lunge distinction!

  • Cassitt

    Loved the stuff about abs! Very helpfull ;)

  • Davosky75

    Thanks, man. I’m not a professional trainer, but this can help me pass some knowledge to my female friends, who are always asking me for help. Thanks!

  • Trevor

    great article as always, loving the subtle differences.. Looking forward to the rest of the articles

  • Victoriaboer

    This is awesome roman . at least we are talking the same language Rock on . 

  • Marie C Gravel

    Awesome post! Definitely informative. My fave exercise right now is the glute bridge. I want to FILL my jeans!

    •  Glute bridge is AWESOME! We can thank @bret_contreras:twitter  for that!

  • Danielle

    This article was incredibly helpful, I thank you sir.

  • Alex


    I've just bought Flavias program yesterday prior to reading this article. I have done her first day – tight and trim thighs and liked it alot. But reading your article I'm now getting extremely worried about building thick abs. If I follow Flavias ab program is this likely to happen??

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this. I just didn't know that women should stay away from heavy ab training…and I've paid for it with a very thick waist. I probably won't get down to 10% body fat any time soon, so I should turn to planks instead.

    How long will it take to narrow my waist and lessen the bulk by using planks?

  • Mary

    Totally agree with Ginny's comments, but I would go even further by advocating for no heels at all. I've learned this the hard way. After having piriformis syndrome for almost 5 years, there's no way I'm going to harm my newly-found alignment by wearing shoes with heels. They are the worst thing for women. If you want to be fit and feel good now and in the future, stay in flats.

  • Melissa

    Just got time to read the above post of women's training. I am starting to become a big fan. Now if I can just incorporate some of the exercises in my life. I have 4 children and no money for a trainer. But trying to get in shape. Thanks for the advice! One of these days hopefully I can hire u!

  • Ginny

    The exercises are great. I've used the plank for years. The Pallof press is new. Great addition.

    Now I have to ask a serious question. I'm a nurse (BSN, 34 years) and believe a fit body is essential to general health and a fit mind (as the Greeks put it).

    If you are going to all this trouble to get fit and look good, why would you admire or put your body in shoes with 4 inch heels?

    Is the sexier look today worth what you are doing to your feet, knees, hips and spine in the future?

    I've taken care of a lot of elderly women who wore those heels when they were in fashion around the 40's. They regret it big time. Some can't even walk barefoot.

    The body is a structure that is beautifully designed, functions flawlessly when cared for and really doesn't need that artificial enhancement. Do yours a favor and stay off the super high heels.

    (Guys you can help by admiring lower heels ;)

  • michael kerley

    how should bros train abs? i feel like im doing nothing when i do planks.

  • Jessica

    I think the rocking planks is an interesting idea– I'll have to incorporate it into my exercise routine and see how it goes! I don't know about the paloff press, simply because I don't go to a gym. Is there an at-home version?

  • Cass

    Can you post some other ab exercise ideas that might be good for women, other than the rocking plank and Pallof Presses?

    I like variety! What about decline crunches, and the old ab wheel? Are these ok for women without getting us bulky in the ab area?

  • I actually like it. I don't do tons of ab work, so if you're not doing year round you're okay!

  • Tara

    Ok, Roman, the Pallof press is a GREAT exercise! I feel the whole muscle from under the arm to the hip the day after doing these. Great for tightening things up. Thanks!

  • Overall I like Flavia's program, though I'm not sure about the intensity of ab work. Thoughts?

  • Cass

    Thanks, Roman….in addition to the lateral raises from various angles (leaning, lying, standing, cable), any other delt exercises that you would consider “key” in getting that capped look?

    I am so loving this female series and am about to eagerly devour the “Tricky Tricep Training” article! Any plans for more of these, geared towards females in the very near future? Where should we be looking for future articles – are all of your writings on your blog? It is already saved as a daily Favorite in my Internet Explorer….THANL YOU!


  • You can build nice caps without OH pressing. Takes longer, but if injuries contraindicate it, then you have to do it. Just be patient!

  • Cass


    You asked me “Can you do any lateral raising movement? A partial ROM lateral raise where you came below shoulder height would be good.

    Also, a lean-away lateral raise might help”.

    I can do these and actaully do them, with no problem. I guess my biggest question is, is it possible to build some good solid delt muscle/cap doing these or do you have to be incorporatinff a solid compound movement like OH presses into your routine (which I can't do)?

  • Flavia Del Monte's program, “Full-Body-Licious” is quite good. Also, the “Venus Index” and “Fit Yummy Mummy” are also fantastic.

  • It's more of an issue if done with weights. The occasional set is totally cool, just do them with bodyweight =)

  • Can you do any lateral raising movement? A partial ROM lateral raise where you came below shoulder height would be good.

    Also, a lean-away lateral raise might help.

  • Tim

    Good post Roman,

    As a trainer I'd say 75% of my clients are woman.

    Of the men about 1/2 just want to get into general shape and the other half are serious athletes.

    Whereas almost all of the woman just want to get into general shape.

  • Debbies21

    Back to front lunges for women. You know that even a 1/2 inch gain in quad means your $200 jeans dont fit. I would guess we need to keep the occasional front lunge to keep legs balanced so would we be better off doing it without weights. Or is it the movement itself and not additional weight that makes the difference.

  • Elle-Jay

    Hey Roman, when it comes to abs training, can standing “broomstick twists” (and variations) really help to make a smaller waist? And even if so, are there more efficient ways of accomplishing the same thing?

    My friend swears by this method, but she's more into appearances, while I'm more the “survive the zombie apocalypse” kinda gal (i.e. I don't care about becoming “too muscular”). I suspect that she believes that the twists work for her because she already has a naturally hourglass shape.

  • Ramesh

    Very intelligent & well researched article.Keep it up!

  • Danelle

    Read your post and a few of the comments. Have always been really leary of squats. I want a tight, SMALL, firm, high butt. Not big. Heavy weights = growth. I know density and strength workouts are calorically expensive. But I DONT want my muscle size to increase (and I AM one of those genetically freaky women who CAN build huge muscles. I have to be very careful.).

    What can I do in place of squats to get that nice high rounded small tight butt without building muscle there? Legs can get large too. Thanks!!

  • Debbies21

    Flavia's legs are awesome and I know it's a combination of both her training and her diet (maybe her cute husband has something to do with it to) but what is the quickest way to get those legs. Will working them more frequently get results quicker. Also since legs' like Flavias is the goal what weight should we use.

    Your the best

  • Joyce

    Thank you for this! I've been working my abs with reps through ranges of motion. I thought I was doing the right thing, but now I see why I'm not getting the look I'm aiming for. Any other ab exercises you recommend for women's abs?

  • Michael kerley

    I jest, of course i read it.

    *Snuggle snuggle snuggle*

  • Eliran

    Lovely post Roman, thanks for the info!

    I'd really like to know what are the right workouts suggested for fat loss and having a sexy body for women.

  • Carolina

    Thanks Roman! Talking about forward lunges what are your thoughts about them for female runners?

    I have done them always because they build stronger quads and muscles around the knees to protect them.

    Thanks for your thoughts

  • Lori

    So for female abs would you say the P90X ab ripper is the wrong kind of workout that will give a women thick abs?

  • Cass

    OK, my third post thus far, but you have been so great about replying, so I am going for it! I love that awesome cap on the shoulder that really completes a beautiful female physique. My body fat is low (~16%) so leanness isn't a big issue. My thing is, I cannot be doing Overhead presses anywhere in my routine, due to a shoulder injury and making sure I can avoid surgery in the near future. That being said, what are the best shoulder exercises or the best routine that will ensure that awesome “capped” look on the deltoids?

    Thanks so much! Loving this blog!!!


  • Anne

    Any advice for a thinner waiste? (for women, of course)

    I'll be waiting for that triceps article.. sounds just great!

    thanks :)

  • Flora

    Great advices !!

    I have been doing the abdominal training incorrectly :( How can one reverse it ?

    To me a sexy fem body should show some of the crutch muscle, please advice

    Thank you :)

  • I've got a whooooooole post on triceps coming this week. Hang tight, lots of good stuff in there!

  • Cass

    I posted earlier but see you are now replying to posts so I am going to jump back in and say, please, please, PLEASE….can you suggest how to firm up the whole underside of the tricep (long head) when you are already lean (~15-16% bf) and are really fit.

    why is this such a lagging body part for women?

    What are the best exercises to address this (and please don;t say dips – I can't do these, per my PT, as I have a partial rotator cuff tear and he feels this exercise puts you in a precarious position, even with a healthy shoulder)??



  • Nope, no need to stop. As I mentioned in the blog, I'm not trying to demonize forward lunges.

    They are fine in moderation, I just don't like when women do ONLY forward lunges. In general, I'd say 70% of your lunging should be reverse, 30% to the front.

  • It sounds like estrogen related fat storage.

    You should look into my program Final Phase Fat Loss.

    Or, barring that, check out any of the articles I've written on density training.

  • Don't stop with FPFL. If you feel like your legs have gotten more muscular, simply replace the forward lunges with reverse lunges.

    Most of the time, when legs “grow” on FPFL, it's simply water and blood retention because the training is so frequent.

    Once you take a few days off it should go down.

  • Thanks for posting =)

    Regarding arch pain, I'm curious if it's the jump lunges or some underlying foot issues.

    You can try cycle sprints, as there's less impact. That would probably help.

    Wider squat stance increases glute recruitment and takes the quads out just a bit.

  • Good point about it making women look shorter.

    Jump lunges are fine – you catch evenly with both legs so the effect is lessened.

    Step ups are also fine, mainly because people tend to use the training leg.

    A good step up, by the way, is done by driving through the HEEL of the elevated foot, which will force more recruitment of posterior muscles like the glute and hamstrings.

    So they're fine =)

  • Super great article!!!

  • sabrina attique

    Hi.I need to reduce the side of outer hips….desperately….can u please help me in this regard?Yes you are right ,more we workout abs more muscle and fat will appear on it to show fat tummy.

  • Eleonora

    Hi John,

    I am in week 6 of your FPFL System.

    I had 2 kg of fat to loose but now I am gaining mass instead of loosing fat and shrink. I even need a new pair of jeans – a size larger than my old once.Your article came 5-6 weeks later…..Please help!

  • Ty

    I am VERY curious and excited to see the follow-up post, and it sounds like I'm not the only one.

  • Marisa

    The problem I have with thick legs on a woman is they make you look shorter. Thinner legs look longer and longer legs look sexier to me. All the models have such long legs cause they are so tall, and they can also get away with more muscle without it looking big cause of the length of their legs make them look slimmer even with muscle!

    Anyways, thanks for the tips! I agree about the abs! I don't think 6 packs on women are femine or attractive. The long lines look sexier. I rarely ever do any exercises specifically for my abs. I just let them get worked by the other exercises that engage the core, and I am already really starting to see a lot of definition without any thickness! :)

    As far as the lunges, I guess that also means the jump lunges are out. What about all the other lunge positions like the side lunges etc? And wouldn't that mean that stairs or step ups also put too much work into that part of the quads since your moving forward and then pushing off with the front leg?

  • Kelly

    Thanks for the tips- very, very helpful. I like to focus on developing my shoulders. It balances out my hips/butt/thighs, which are definitely on the thick side, and helps create a nice hourglass effect. Also, because the upper body tends not to carry much fat, definition in that area makes women look strong overall.

    I was really intrigued by what you said about abs training for women. I tend to add weight for core training with the purpose of building definition. It never occurred to me that I could be bulking up where I want to be tapering down! Given that I tend to store fat in my midsection anyway… yeah. This is pretty revelatory. I'm at about 17% bodyfat now, and I doubt I'll ever be below 15% as a lifestyle, so sounds like I should definitely be adjusting my training. Can you offer some more examples of effective abs training for women– exercises as well as # of reps/sets and how many times per week?

    Also, thank you for the love for ladies with strong legs. It can be tough to buy jeans sometimes, but I can rock a miniskirt like nobody's business.

  • Cheryl

    I've heard that over-training the abs makes them look thicker. I think that's my problem. I've been working out and have lost inches everywhere but my waist. I have a short torso, which doesn't help. It almost seems as though my stomach looks even bigger now because everything else shrank around it. What can I say, I'm a work in progress. Thanks for the info…

  • Saskia

    Thanks for the insight of women abs! Sure will change my excercises as mine is à bit bulky while thinking it was only fat. Lets Hear it on the triceps! ( pretty please)

  • Anita

    Great information, tips which I will definitely be taking on board. I am a fan of muscular legs and enjoy squats and lunges so will leave them on my routine, your info on this was motivating. The abs info was highly informative too, will now not worry so much now about ensuring that I HAVE to do my ab crunches etc.. routineor or after my weights and HITT training, which is great as I it find incredibly boring!! But can now start concentrating on the planks instead, recently started doing planks using a stability ball, and was alot more challenging not to mention less boring due to the balance required, and I'm feeling it today, sooo allllll good.

  • kuljit

    Hi john, This is great information. Thank you. I was the one of those women who asked you about women train different than men. It made very clear how it works. I have two kids and stretched skin on top of my muscles , is that ever can go away. which other exercise I should do to make my abs leaner and not hogh volumed. thank you for post. I wish I was your client and you train me in person. thank you.

  • Wendy

    Nice! This explained a LOT to me in terms of what I could be doing better. And, it makes total sense. I will miss my walking lunges but not the overdeveloped area around my knees.

    No more weighted rope pulleys for abs!!!

    Keep 'em coming! Love this blog.

  • Lorena

    Great post, John!

    But I'm following your FPFL2 programm, which was supposed to be done by men and women and I see there's a lot of “forward lunges” sets on it, and 6 “Dynamic workouts”… should I stop doing them as a female?

  • Nora

    Oh and i didnt mean not good for mean just mean that itt bulks up the quads which i dont want and prefer to avoid, so yeh is stationary lunges gonna bulk up my quads? especially if i am doing them in a lactic acid work out “slow then fast”

  • Nora

    OK very important question…So forward lunges are not good for women but what about stationary lunges? like in ur final phase fat loss program in one of ur lactic acid workouts u have stationary lunges as one of the exercises….should i avoid those as well?

    Please let me know,

    Thanks,ur awesome Roman!

  • Stacey Diehl

    First, thank you for writing this specifically for women. Blogs obviously directed at men always make me wonder what's really usable info for me. And yea, women are more likely to ask for directions so…

    I'd never considered the value of rear lunges vs. forward so thanks for that. Do you think too much quad activity may be responsible for my chronic adductor strain issues?

    Second, how do you feel about Ab Vacuums and standard forward and side planks? I get vicious foot cramps and know my feet couldn't handle Rocking Planks. Vibrams on the feet?

    Look forward to hearing more blogging for us. Thanks.

  • Cheri

    This is the first time I have seen a post that makes sense about how strength training for women can and should be different from that for men. I like a small waist for women and I don't like overdeveloped front quads. This is definitely helpful.

  • Audrey

    I usually do reverse situps with a ball between my legs, bridges, and planks, before doing torso twists with a 20 pound bar or 10# weighted ball. I found that using the weight keeps me sitting straight and helps to give me the feeling that I am doing something (rather than just looking at the back wall 50 times). I used to do these with a broomstick when I first started working out but noticed that my back is getting stronger when I do this one with a light weight.

    Thanks for all the good insights.

  • Misha

    Hi Roman,

    Thanks for the superb info! I was wondering what you think about plyometric training for us ladies. I used to love jump lunges, but found them too hard on the ankles and, in particular, the ARCHES of the feet. Any alternatives besides sprinting? Also (sorry, I think someone asked this earlier), why squat wide BUT not as wide as sumo?

    Thanks! (I'm a lurker, but the female-specific info might get me to actually start posting ;) )

  • Cass

    Please bring on that tricep training post! I am lean, in shape but still struggle with firming up the long head of the tricep (basically, the whole underside of the arm)!!!

    As for what female physique I think is sexy – Jamie Eason!!!

    I am loving Female Week so far and am really looking forward to all these blog posts….keep them coming!!!!


  • Marie

    Thanks Roman, my stomach region has been my battle for years & your info on abs makes so much sense- Ill put it to good use, thanks.

  • Waiting impatiently for your triceps post… found all this interesting, but I am on the side of the muscular quad! forward lunges for me too! Thick abs, I can do without!

  • Dawn

    I got teased alot in school for how big my thighs and calves were. There was no fat on them but all I could see was how big they were. So since then I have always wanted the lean sexy legs. But now I need to revise my thoughts, that they weren't ugly after all. What a thought. And now I understand what is going on with my abs also. Thanks for the great post.

  • Kia

    Thanks again for another great blog. You've answered some questions i've had and explained to me why my waist measurement has increased without any fat gain… I'll be decreasing the ab training!! Thank you!!

  • Tammy

    Thanks for this, Roman. I learned something today, and the vids of the Paloff press and rocking plank were very helpful. Looking forward to more!

  • Thanks, Rick, I appreciate you sending people over. Will keep giving kick-ass info =)

  • To my knowledge there hasn't been a study on this–most of this comes from John Berardi and his experiences with female athletes and cycling.

    Having said that, I've been recommending this for years and found it to be extremely beneficial.

    Can't prove it, but it works.

  • Jonathan

    Good post John.

    Hey, I read somewhere (can't recall the exact study) that cycling on a recumbent bike vs. a regular position bike has been shown to reduce leg girth (obviously this must be dependent on resistance and duration). Have you heard of this or do you think it's complete crap? Last thing I want to do is reduce my leg size!

    P.S. Squat girl ROCKS. Muscled legs on women look great!

  • also – pikes on a ball, knee raises and planks are not weighted exercises…because they don't involve external loading.

  • Nothing is “wrong” with quads.

    As I said very clearly in the post, I prefer women with muscular legs.

    However, as I also said clearly, most of my clients do not want legs that interfere with their fashion choices or make them feel “unfeminine” as defined by whatever criteria that they personally use.

    You are the exception rather than the rule.

    Given that, while I think I made it pretty clear that I don't think women NEED to train different than men for the most basic of reasons, creating the look I described is a bit of a “specialized” goal, and therefore requires a bit more thought.

    I certainly don't think a few tweaks are rocking the boat too much.

  • The purpose of training–male or female–is to meet the clients goals.

    When I train female athletes, the goal is performance enhancement. Often, that means increases in speed, power, agility, and strength.

    And sure, I've had a few women who wanted to compete in powerlifting…and in that instance the “goal” of the training is simply to be a better power lifter.

    However, as I mentioned, the vast–in fact, the OVERWHELMING majority of my female clients use the word “sexy” to describe what they'd like to look like; I mirror my language after my clients, because I aim at communicating with them on a level that makes them feel comfortable.

    I make no bones about the fact that most of my clients–male and female–that weren't athletes have been training purely for aesthetic reasons.

    Does that adequately answer the question?

  • Heather

    I've been getting a little disturbed by this “women training different” movement all of a sudden. I'm not convinced. What's wrong with quads? I'll be 50 this year and could use bigger, more muscular legs. And I don't do cardio. I still think weights is more efficient, & let's you get results in the shortest amount of time. It's hard enough for us girls without that testosterone you guys are loaded with! The abs info was interesting. One of my favorite ab exercises is the kneeling cable crunch which I do with bands at home. It's not that I do that one more than others (pike on ball, planks, hanging knee raise, etc.) but I guess that would fall into your weighted abs category. I think it's my favorite because it makes me feel so STRONG when I do it! Now I'll have to go to the mirror and obsess whether I have thick abs or not….bummer! But first, a set of forward lunges………

  • Cynthia Herndon

    So the purpose of the female training is to be sexy? lol

  • John Philion

    One of my favorite exercises for women is the co-contraction lunge which I came across from Alwyn Cosgrove. This lower half partial lunge helps activate the flutes and supporting muscles of the knee taking strain off the quads. Due to quad s

    Dominance and a more acute Q angle with women this exercise not only helps balance leg strength but also helps create a more attractive derrière.

  • Sean

    Bookmarking this post! Nicely said John. I have been preaching to the ladies to lift weights and get over this “toning” type of slang used to talk around what needs to be done…hard work and weight training. You slayed the myths about female/male training and I appreciate the time you took to develop this post.

    I say, replace the lunge with a dumbbell single-leg split squat with one foot on top of a bench behind you. I do these after regular squats. Maybe you could elaborate on this exercise for all of us?

    I am also on-board with you with thick muscular quads and shapely back-side. Well-built cheerleaders and gymnasts have that nice lower body men crave. ;-)

  • Aimee

    Great post!

    Clarifies sooo much misinformation out there. That is why you are to go-to guy..;) Fwding to all my g/f's!

  • Mary

    Finally, a post about female fitness – THANK YOU!!! I do think there are important differences for those of us who are seriously into fitness, not just for appearances, but to be all we can be!

    I'm one of those so-called rare women who has quite a lot of muscle definition. Recently, I've lost a lot of fat, except in my midsection, so it looks a little funny, being lean everywhere else! After reading your post, I think I'm guilty of thick abs, a holdover from my aerobics days of doing so many reps. I'm doing lots of hot yoga now, in addition to some spinning and bodyweight exercises, working on the back muscles (a neglected part of the core, IMO) and am doing lots of planks and pushups. What else can I do to correct the thick abs and bring more definition to my waist? Also, in the last year I've been trying to increase my triceps strength, and while I've succeeded to some degree, I'm disappointed that I haven't achieved the results I'm looking for. How do women get super strong triceps? I've tried pretty much every exercise in the book!

  • Joe

    Great post! I particularly liked the abs portion.

    I think it's great for guys and girls because they don't put your spine in a bad position (referring to the rolling plank and the Pallof Press)

  • Paula Ruckenstein

    I love every muscular curve that I have gotten from the heavy weight training I do. Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, chin-ups, you name it, I do it and I love the body that strength training has given me. At 50 years young, I look better than I did at 21 (and I can do my own heavy lifting at home – a bonus).

    Interesting tip on the lunges — never thought about that, but it makes perfect sense! Great article!

  • Reka

    Thank you so much for the abs part, I always found situps and crunches boring and pretty hard to do high volume. Seeing people doing 20-30 reps per set, wondering why I can't do that without cursing :D Now I won't feel bad for not doing much of them.

  • Cindy

    Great and useful info. I'm looking forward to the upcoming posts this week.

  • Jaye

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the first person and trainer, I might add to acknowledge and explain that ab muscles do get BIGGER and not just get tight and toned and small, and that there is a big difference in how they look. I have asked and asked and no one has been able to answer my question on how to exercise the abs without 'growing' my waist. I hope you elaborate more on this subject.

  • Terra

    Thanks Roman, for a GREAT blog! I am sooo grateful to know that info about not doing weighted abs work!!! Previously, unfortunately, I have been doing that at the gym, trying to follow advice meant for men….(Vince's friend the super-ab guy) but now, obviously, I'll stop. So grateful to you, but–How about the hanging leg or knee lifts, though??

    and I'm looking forward to the triceps info blog!

    always your fan

  • Heidi

    So I am doing Final Phase Fat Loss. I hate it:) it is sooooo hard. It is probably the hardest workout program I've ever done. I am on the 6th week, with 3 more workouts left. So far I have gone from 26% bf to 23% bf. It is quite probable at the rate I am going by the end of the program I'll be at 22%. My ideal, of course, is 19-21%. I am a 48 year old female.

    I would call this a great success for me.

    Other programs I have experienced success with are: Beachbody's Brazil Butt Lift (it actually does a nice job of re-shaping the booty and now that I am getting lower body fat I plan to revisit that one.)

    I also got good results with Combat the Fat. Pyramid Style Strength Training and LIIT, which apparently does work for me.

    I also have to do some kind of regular yoga. I am not sure that it does a lot more than keep me feeling feminine, but if I don't do it, I start feeling stiff and achy, and even if I don't look like a bulky he-man I feel like one:)

    My question for you … I have the add-on FPFL package with the hormone surge workouts … do you have any suggestions for how I might mix these up with LIIT and/or HIIT in the future?

    Thanks for another great blog post, Heidi

  • Jason Hodges

    I agree that Squat girl is pretty hot.

  • Sarah Green

    With aging, the triceps area of the arms begin to sag, even with strong triceps. How can that area get the most toning?

  • Matty

    Nothing sexier than a Woman setting up for a set of deadlifts….

  • carrieannb

    When I was younger I had a crush on a guy who played soccer – one day I was stretching out my legs and I got “your legs are so big and thick and muscular…I wish I had your legs” – I was crushed ….so it's nice to hear that maybe that's not such a bad thing :)

    Will definitely focus more on those back lunges now though. And I LOVE planks so happy to hear those are the way to go! Keep up the great info please!

  • Wendy

    Roman, I've got to say this was really one of the best blogs I've read on this matter. I'm waiting for tonight's mid-night release of Flavia's workout program because I've noticed she's really done the research and follows what she's teaching other's to do. I used to be one of those “cardio queens” as you stated and it got me nowhere fast. I noticed that once I started doing some light weight training, not only was I getting a better looking physique but the definition that I so desired started to form. I look forward to your blog on triceps because this is one of the trouble areas women get as we get older and it's one I'd like to avoid. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

  • Good exercise overall. I like them occasionally, usually performed for time. ie – don't give a set number of reps, just focus on doing as many as possible in 45 seconds.

  • Sprinting is exceptional for overall fat loss, and is great for development–especially the glutes and hamstrings, and even more so the glute/ham tie-in area.

    Also, check out my blog post “6 tips for a sexy female body” where I talk about cycle sprints.

  • m

    information that is soooooo useful and so hard to come by. Thank you. And I think any woman who looks fit and healthy looks great.

  • Valerie Gorman

    Thanks once again for a fascinating post. My trainer started me on backward lunges because my flutes were too weak to keep me from hurting my back doing forward ones and I've developed a great backside as a result. I wish I could get our rowing coach to read your blogs – I stopped going to her weight circuits because she has the squad doing all kinds of things just plain wrong and as a result I have made myself ineligible for the first eight. But I'd rather be properly fit than hurt half the time like so many of the women who go every week.

  • Depending on the movements you're doing, I don't think KBs are to blame.

    Swings and the like hit your core, but not the way a weighted crunch does.

    You may want to lay off the turkish get-ups for a bit, or do them with light weight, and see if that changes anything.

  • Absolutely. I'd never tell ANYONE they shouldn't squat (assuming injuries aren't an issue).

    Squat girl is hot.

  • carlos

    Big SEXY legs.. are possible!

    Love the “SQUAT” pic!!!

  • You make a good point. I can see how Flav's six pack is “a bit much” for some people. Keep in mind, as I touched on my photo prep blog post, most fitness models aren't as lean most of the time as they appear in pictures.

    Plus, the lighting and all that.

    Flav has an insane body, but she still looks very feminine, and most of the time she has a very flat tummy with visible lines on the sides, but less of a full six pack.

    She's an inspiration!

  • Austin

    I'm with you Roman. I think “Squat” goddess is waaaaaayyy better.

    I'm actually a dude, so obviously my favorite exercises for women are ones where I can seem them working in “full view”.

    On a serious note though, I've seen a number of women (including a figure athlete/trainer) do a lot of balance ball work (you know, the kind of sawed off swiss balls platform thingys).

    Not sure if I understand the figure benefits with 'em.

    However, I do think every girl should be doing squats (minus front squats, for the whole quad development reason). They really help to fill out a women who may be otherwise lacking in hamstring or glute development.

  • Iris

    I love your blog and this time it was one of the best. I love my medicine ball and stability ball for core and fuul body training. Also, I think that for women with kids workouts should be very short and very intense, to get max results in minimum time. Short workouts have been the only ones I have been able to follow these past few years. Thanks for focusing on women, I'm looking forward to your next great post!

  • Awesome to hear, I'm glad you're back in your jeans =)

    I have full quads (not big, especially for an athlete or anything), so I buy a lot of jeans that are 1% spandex. That way I can wear tight jeans (hey, I like fashion), and still get them on and feel comfortable.

  • Karen Newman

    I am an unfortunate person with long chicken legs. I would love to have more muscle, but big muscled thighs just look big when covered up.

    i would love that womens waist but she can keep the thighs.

    Very good article

  • Walking lunges are pretty similar to a forward lunge. When I have female clients do them, we perform them unweighted.

  • In the forward lunge, the moving leg has to “catch” and slow the weight, creating greater microtrauma and potential for growth in the musculature surrounding the knee.

    In the reverse lunge, the moving leg catches the weight in a position which favors the rectus femoris and glute.

    Despite the fact that both end up looking similarly, the dynamic differences are enough to allow for some physiological changes over time.

    Good questions, though!

  • Lacy


    I love FPFL so much! You should make a women's specific program. I would rush to buy it. Thank you for the tips!

  • Liz

    Love the back lunge advice, what about walking lunges, they always make my inner thighs and butt sore?

  • gracepmc

    This has made me think. I have always had “Britney” abs — was a gymnast, endurance swimmer, and rower. Love to row. I lifted casually and now I do a largely kettlebell and bodyweight program. Love the bells. But what effect would kbs, especially swings, have on abs as you have explained?

  • Jason Hodges

    I feel sheepish for asking this because I probably should “know the basics.” I don't understand the difference between the forward and reverse lunge. Don't both end up with both legs in a 90/90 position with the body tall and dropping straight down on the knee? What am I missing?

  • Jill

    Thanks for this post Roman! I'm a 44 yo female, I've been working the heavy weights for two years and I finally hit the “bulky” stage – I struggled with wanting to maintain my strength but couldn't keep wearing my fancy jeans. I finally relented and went to a relaxed fit, but NOW I'm having great success with your FPFL program and can shimmy those quads back into the skinny jeans!!! Love the results, fave exercise so far is the LA3 routine, just about puked!

  • Rosa

    The girl in the squat picture looks wonderfully feminine, and her stomach is awesome. Sorry, but Flavia's stomach looks masculine to me. I even prefer the chubbier Britney to that. Everybody has different tastes and I think most women prefer to look more feminine and most men (unless they are body builders) also prefer women to have more feminine looks. So thanks for the backwards lunge tips, and I look forward to the triceps blog :)

  • Pat

    Never thought of backward lunges. Am on Isobel del los Rios diet (kinda) as its diff 2 always get the ingredients she talks abt here in SA. Have lost quite a bit though bt will definately change to the backward lunges (nt a youngster either anymore). LOL!!!

  • Great ideas about training for females. I wish it was common knowledge that women shouldn't worry about bulking, but it seems I get that question almost everyday!

  • Ryan


    Really like this. Makes me think differently about some training for women. Thank you.

  • Nefer

    Great article…I always knew that volume and weighted ab work would make me thick around the midsection; but I couldn't prove it. My best assest is my waist and I try to only work it once a week or so. Thanks for the proof! I will have to tell my husband…

    Now about the legs, I have so much damn fat around my thighs, hips, butt its frustrating. I know, I know ….diet, diet diet… I will incorporate more back lunges. I also hear that sprinting will help as well. Your thoughts on sprinting….

  • Great blog, good to get other views on training women, as you say they make up the mainstay of our clients as PT's.

    Look forward to the tricep blog.

  • Heather

    Thanks for the helpful info. Look forward to more.

  • david

    Been working for almost a year getting the wife in shape. Been a long hard slog starting with just getting her in the gym to go through the motions and some tweaks to the diet, moving in to more advanced work as time passed. Hopefully this will be a life long affair with the gym for her, and good results all the way around.

  • Jonathan

    At a risk of sounding like my very British but lovely art history professor, I found this to be absolutely fascinating.

  • rocky

    yeah I have to agree with you on that one Roman, girls with thick legs are sexy as can be. I have a ton of chick friends that are askin me advice about training cause they know I'm really into this stuff and I have no idea what to tell them. I guess I'll just start sending them to your blog.

  • Corrie

    Great post! Can you tell us unfortunate ladies some tips on reducing thick abs? When I was younger my dance coach made us do soo much ab work incorrectly… I've struggled with it ever since! I'm at 17.5% bf and they still look too blocky. I no longer do weighted ab exercises either :)

  • Kayden

    Did it ever occur to you that maybe most of your clients are female because you're freaking HOT?

    LOL but seriously thanks for the awesome info, a coworker and I just started a new program about a week ago, with a LOT of lunge variations and squats, so I'll definitely be sure to switch at least 75% of the lunges to reverse, as well as completely revamp the ab section of the program.

    Quick question though, is there any exercises I could do to make the “linea alba” more defined? That's seriously the sexiest part of the female abdomen if you ask me =)

  • Steve

    Thanks, Roman.

  • Oak Harrison

    Thank you for this, especially the small video clips…very helpful. I also found your comments re ab workouts very instructive and insightful. How do you feel about bicycles with a twist and full extension of the leg?

  • S

    awesome insights and great tip about the back lunges.

  • Lucile

    Thanks to sharing these cool tips with us. I would remember the tip about back lunges instead forward the next time I would have legs workout !!

  • scott

    great post!

  • scott

    great post, thanks man!

  • Thanks for the demo of the rocking plank, will def. add this into my training routine. Can't wait to see the info on training triceps for women!

  • Dianne

    Although I am pretty lean everywhere except what I think a stubborn bit in my mid section….I think mostly I suffer from that thick ab thing. I would guess my body fat to be about 18% .

    I will lay off the weighted ab stuff, although over the last year I have done more in the way of plank varieties and body weight hanging raises etc.

    Any suggestions on reducing the thickness?

    Just get rid of the weighted stuff and it should work itself away maintaining the plank type movements and body weight movements?

    I have done the “train like a man” thing for several years….I am now 50 (agghhh closer to 51!) I have great muscle definition especially arms, back and legs….chest hard to tell with those old boobs of mine…sorry…no implants. I luckily have great leg genetics (although I do work them)..and have the look of sprinters legs as I was once one. So I know I am doing things right…my diet is very good…just right now working on getting my hormones back in balance….almost no cortisol, almost no progesterone very little testosterone and estrogen. Hard to believe I have the definition and energy I do!

    Anyway…..thanks for your reply.

  • Laura M

    Can't wait for the triceps training blog. Your information is always great, thanks!

  • That's what I'm talking about! Thanks Roman for finally clear info about female training!




  • Susanne

    Thanks. Lots of good tips. Have you thought about releasing a nutrition/workout program just for women, even though the differences are minor?

  • Probably. Next time, pics of dudes. So there.

  • Kim

    Great post! I'm always looking for new ab moves and I like that rocking plank.

  • michael kerlz

    im probably not the only one who didnt read anything and just looked at the pics :)

  • Hey bro,

    This is a great post. Specially for a question that can't and shouldn't be answered by a yes or no.

    I think is very important to understand each way to train for the benefit of the client and with their goals in mind. Only when we can beat our egos we can serve them better. Which is good for us anyway.

    If it was for me, all my women clients would have huge legs and a ripped body, squatting and lunging heavy haha!!. But that's not the case.

    Thanks for writing this. Now I can send people over here to read it and at least get an idea of what I mean that the training of men are women is not really that much different (just 10%).

    Take care Roman

  • Edited the post to include it =) Thanks for the reminder.

  • Carman

    thanks for the specifics for legs & abs; helped me understand that better. now I'm going to youtube to find out what a Palloff press is.

  • I have an entire post coming on this. Some cool stuff, and possibly a video.

  • Kim

    Awesome! Loved the info on back lunges–recently I've been looking for ways to keep working my quads without building the 'teardrop' too big :P. Sissy squats have also proved to shread my upper quads (and leave me sore for a couple days ;).

    1 question though–you left triceps off the list, so do you have any workout tips for females who wanna slim down the back of our upper arms?

  • DiAnna Hudson

    Love it, Roman! FINALLY a way ahead without the ubiquitous LUNGES!!!