For most of my female clients, having nice lean muscles is one of their key training goals. And so it should be. Maintaining a healthy pay someone to do your assignment level of muscle is vital for everyone, especially women. The main benefit from an aesthetic standpoint, is that the more muscle you can maintain, the more energy your body will burn at rest.

Too many women in my gym are scared of moving off the coloured dumbbells, and seem to lift the same small weight for months on end. My advice is don’t be afraid of lifting heavier weights. Women will very rarely put on too much bulk, even under very heavy loads. I was recently watching the training protocols of Britain’s top weightlifter in the lightweight category. In clothes she looked like a normal lean, 16 year old girl, with a figure that most women would desire. It’s just that when you saw her in the gym, she could clean and jerk more than 100kg!.

My point is that for most women, putting on bulk is a near impossible task, even under very heavy load.

This is a sample program that I would use for people with at least 3-6 months of resistance training experience, who are keen to get lean!

Monday & Thursday
Sets Reps Load Rest Tempo
A1 Dumbbell Squats Heels Raised 3 12 -3R 45s 31X0
A2 Seated Bar Overhead Military Press 3 12 -3R 45s 31X0
(Rest 90 secs before moving onto B exercises)
B1 High Block Step Ups Back Bar 3 8-10 -3R 45s 2011
B2 Lat Pulldowns V Grip 3 12 -3R 45s 30X0
(Rest 90 secs before moving onto C exercises)
C1 Single Arm Rows Bench Support 3 12 -2R 30s 3011
C2 Petersen Steps Back Bar 3 12 -2R 30s 2011
C3 Standing Single Arm Triceps Ext 3 12 -2R 60s 3010
Tuesday & Friday
Sets Reps Load Rest Tempo
A1 Bar Deadlifts Stiff Leg 3 12 -3R 45s 3010
A2 Incline Dumbbell Press 3 12 -3R 45s 30X0
(Rest 90 secs before moving onto B exercises)
B1 Incline Back Extensions DB on chest 3 8-10 -3R 45s 3011
B2 Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curls 3 12 -3R 45s 3010
(Rest 90 secs before moving onto C exercises)
C1 Flat Flyes 3 12 -2R 30s 3010
C2 Reverse Low Cable Curls 3 12 -2R 30s 3010
C3 Swiss Ball Crunch Cable Resistance 3 12 -2R 60s 3020

These programs work in a pairing or superset format. So for example, you would do exercise A1, rest 45 secs and then do exercise A2. Rest another 45 secs, and then go back to A1, repeating this until you have done each exercise 3 times.

For the C exercises, you do exercise C1, rest 30 secs, exercise C2, rest 30 secs, exercise C3, rest 60 secs, then go back to exercise C1.

For load, a figure of -3R, means choose a weight for which you could do an extra 3 reps. You will probably find for the latter sets that you need to drop the weight due to fatigue setting in.

For tempo, I use a format of numbers that was originally designed by leading strength coach, Charles Poliquin.

Using the dumbbell squat as an example:

First number – speed in lowering or eccentric phase (i.e 3 second count lowering down)

Second number – count holding the position after lowering (i.e 1 second hold at bottom)

Third number – speed of contraction (i.e  X means standing tall at max speed)

Fourth number count holding position after contraction

Give this program a go for 4-6 weeks and you will no doubt see some great results.