You’ve got your diet down.
You’re on point with tracking calories, counting your macros, and making sure you get a balance of nutrient-dense foods in, along with the little treat here and there.
Hey, perhaps My Fitness Pal has overtaken Facebook as the most used app on your phone – THAT is how serious you are.
And the results are coming – but they’re not quite where you want them to be.
And that’s because, as much as you can lose weight purely from dieting, to really get the body of your dreams – a lean, toned, athletic physique with curves in all the right places, diet alone is not enough.
You may already be training, and if you are, that’s great.
You have a leg up over every other girl who thinks that she can look awesome just by cutting down on wine at weekends and having some disgusting vegetable smoothie concoction for breakfast.
But training in itself won’t give you better progress.
Let’s look at the first 3 levels of training expertise:
1. The Cardio Queen
Cardio helps burn fat – no doubt.
But if you’re spinning your wheels (almost literally) just on the stationary bike, the treadmill, or attending the odd aerobics class, you’re at level 1.
Even if you do the odd bit of lifting on fixed weight machines, or using very light dumbbells and bands, you’re in this category.
Maybe it’s time to step it up?
2. The Blossoming Beginner
You’ve taken your first shaky steps from the cardio section of the gym, and embraced the wonder that is weight training.
You might even have checked out, or be following our beginner’s training plan, where we had you squatting, deadlifting, pressing, lunging and rowing.
You’re getting used to handling free-weights, building a strength base, and starting to see stellar results.
3. The Informed Intermediate
If you’ve been in the beginner stage for a while, it’s time to take things up a notch.
4-6 months following a basic free-weight program, and you’ll undoubtedly be –
- More confident
- And starting to see some huge differences in your physique
But you may also be a little bored. Perhaps you’d like some new, more challenging exercises?
Hit a plateau? Then your rep ranges, volume and frequency may need changing.
In all honesty, you’re probably done with the beginner stage; hence, it seems appropriate to move on to something a little more driven. You’re now an informed intermediate, and you need a program that reflects this.
Which is why this article is for you.
Take a look back at the beginner’s guide – http://www.resultbasedtraining.com.au/women-and-weights-the-ultimate-beginner-guide/
There’s quite a bit there – a wide variety of exercises, varying rep ranges, and 3 tough, but manageable workouts each week.
The basic premises need not change when moving from beginner to intermediate programming, but what we will do is get a little more in-depth.
We’ll be adding an extra day, so you’re now training 4 days per week, and switching to an upper-body/ lower-body split. This will allow for a greater volume of work each session, and allow for a bit longer recovery, too, while still hitting your muscles often enough for optimal results.
Sort Your Schedule
With 2 upper-body and 2 lower-body days each week, you’ll need to set aside 4 days for weights.
A typical schedule would be –
Monday – Upper 1
Tuesday – Lower 1
Wednesday – Rest/ Cardio
Thursday – Upper 2
Friday – Lower 2
Saturday/ Sunday – Rest/ Cardio
You can tweak things if needed though. Provided you’re not hitting 2 upper-body, or 2 lower-body days consecutively, you’re okay.
Your first upper and lower session of each week will be more strength-based, while your second workouts will be a little higher rep, slightly lighter with the weights, and focus on a bigger exercise volume.
Here’s your set-up:
Bench Press – 3 sets of 4-6 reps
Standing Overhead Press – 2 sets of 5-8 reps
Chin-Ups (or negative chin-ups if you can’t do full reps yet) – 5 sets of 3-5 reps
Barbell or Dumbbell Rows – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
Biceps Curls – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Close-Grip Bench Presses – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Deadlift – 3 sets of 4-6 reps
Back Squats – 3 sets of 4-6 reps
Dumbbell Lunges – 4 sets of 6-8 reps
Leg Curls – 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Calf Raises – 3 sets of 8-10 reps
With these strength-based sessions, your goal each workout is to lift a little heavier, or perform more reps.
Taking the deadlift from the lower workout for example.
In week 1, you might perform 3 sets of 4 reps using 50kg. Next time round, you’d aim for 3 sets of 5 or 6 reps using the same weight. Once you get to the top range (i.e. 3 sets of 6) drop the volume back down to 3 sets of 4, but up the weight. So the session after this would be 3 sets of 4 with 52.5 or 55kg.
Lat Pulldowns – 3 sets of 10-12
Cable Rows – 3 sets of 10-12
Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 8-10
Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 2 sets of 10-12
Flyes or Press-Ups – 2 sets of 12-15
Biceps Curls – 3 sets of 12-15
Triceps Pushdowns – 3 sets of 12-15
Front Squats – 4 sets of 8-10
Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 4 sets of 8-10
Leg Press – 3 sets of 12-15
Leg Extension – 3 sets of 15-20
Leg Curls or Hip Thrusts – 3 sets of 12-15
Calf Raises – 4 sets of 12-15
The focus here is less on weight, and more on mind-muscle connection – really feeling the muscle working. While you don’t need a “slow” tempo, taking around 1 second to lift and 1-2 seconds to lower the weight works best.
I guess the main thing you might want to think about is whether you’re an “intermediate” yet?
While there’s no definitive answer, according to strength coach Lon Kilgore, an intermediate female lifter should be able to
- Bench press around 70-75% of bodyweight
- Squat 100% of bodyweight
- Deadlift 110-115% of bodyweight
If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry.
Jump back on the beginner’s program, and work your butt off! The beginner’s program is still a fantastic template for getting you lean, fit and strong.
If you’re at the stage though, where you need a little more, and your strength levels are rising, then you, my friend, are perfectly set for the intermediate’s guide.
Result Based Training