Happy Thursday to you,
“Do squats make a women’s legs bigger in the thighs?” was a question that I got asked this morning.
A few things to note about adding muscle:
- you need to lift heavy in order to add substantial muscle
- you need the hormone testosterone in order to add muscle
So bodyweight squats will not add muscle and neither will kettlebell goblet squats unless these are a real struggle for you but even then most strength gains will come from improving your squatting skill rather than adding substantial muscle mass.
Women also have lower testosterone levels than men, up to 8 times less. So women will always find it harder to add muscle than men.
One classic issue that many women suffer from is ‘overactive thighs and under-active buttocks’.
You can fix this by:
1. Stretching out the thighs before each set of squats or lunges, this makes it slightly harder for the quads to activate
2. Perform a set of 5 – 10 buttock clenches, this fires up the buttocks. Poking and touching them will also excite the muscle.
3. Ensure the squats or lunges include a 90-degree knee bend in order to fully activate the buttock muscles.
Ultimately, as I say to all my female clients that worry about getting larger thighs:
“Let’s start squatting and lunging and if your thighs do get too big then we can stop”
And guess what, they never do 🙂
Scientific core training
Do you want a more scientific approach to training your core and abs? If so read on…
Last week I introduced you to the 3 planes of movement: Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse, and the importance of training in all directions not just forwards and backwards.
When you come to training your core muscles you should use exactly the same format.
Here are a few things you need to know about your core muscles, they:
- Create a bridge between your upper and lower body
- Protect your spine by resisting movement
- Store power through rotation, just like a coiled spring
- Offer a solid platform for your limbs to work off
- Keep your internal organs in place
The core muscles are at the centre of all movement and synchronise, like an orchestra, to work in all directions.
Knowing all this do you think lying down and performing sit-ups or crunches is the best way to condition the core muscles?
Just like all the other movement patterns and exercises offering a 3-dimensional approach is the most natural and effective way to train the core.
Here are a few elements that should be included in a more scientific core workout:
- Include all 3 planes of movement: forwards, backwards, side to side, and rotation
- Stabilise the pelvis to protect the lower back
- Improve anti-rotational strength to create a more stable and safer spine
- Learn to integrate the core muscles with limb movement
- Increase synchronicity between the upper and lower body
Beginners should start off with bodyweight core workouts before progressing to more advanced kettlebell based exercises including the Turkish Get Up.
Learn more: 5 beginner core exercises
Here’s an intermediate workout from my 37 Core & Abs Workouts
- Slow Mountain Climbers (sagittal stability) – 30 seconds
- Side Plank (frontal) – 30 seconds each side
- Plank to Push Up (sagittal / rotational stability) – 30 seconds
- Crossovers (pelvic stability) – 30 seconds
- Bird Dog with Rotation Right (rotational) – 30 seconds
- Crossovers (pelvic stability) – 30 seconds
- Bird Dog with Rotation Left (rotational) – 30 seconds
You can see all the core training elements in action with this 4 minute workout. I guarantee that a workout like this will outperform any conventional crunch / sit-up based workout. Crunches don’t prepare you for the real world, only for sitting up in bed.
Repeat the circuit for a total of 3 sets, taking 30 – 60 seconds of rest after each circuit.
A calorie isn’t just a calorie
One of the most frustrating things I hear about fat loss is:
“Fat loss is just calories in versus calories out”
The only time a calorie is just a calorie is in the lab.
Take, for example, getting 300 calories from Coca Cola (bottle) versus 300 calories from carrots (10 – 12).
Carrots although sweeter than many other vegetables are full of fibre that bulks them out. Consider how long and how much chewing it would take to eat 300 calories of carrots.
Calories also have a different impact on the body depending on when and what they are eaten with.
For example, eating sugar with fat and / or fibre will reduce and slow down its absorption into the bloodstream.
Also, think about the vitamins and minerals that you get from eating carrots vs Coca Cola.
A little common sense tells us that skipping a meal just so you can eat or drink extra calories in the form of junk food is not the best way to improve your health.
Have you read any great health and fitness books lately?
This year I’ve upped my reading schedule to 3 – 4 books per month and would like to share with you some of my favourites.
But first, I’d be interested to know what are your favourites?
Reply to this email and let me know what health and fitness books have influenced you lately.
I’ll share the most popular ones in this newsletter later this month.
That’s all for today my friend,
P.S. Everyone can benefit from using scientific core exercises rather than back-breaking crunches.
[I’ve included some links above that are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission will not affect the original price or the price you pay.]