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So many of the comments on my posts lately have used words like “promote”, “sell”, and “push”. I have to admit, I find it annoying that someone would think the only reason I am doing this is to sell more courses. However, they’re right in the assumption that I have an agenda, just incorrect about what that agenda is.

I take the severe lack of knowledge, interest, and research in to women’s body’s extremely personally. I am always just a little bit angry for women everywhere, and that is what is motivating me to help make change. YES, I have courses, yes, I do mentoring and business coaching, but that is not the sum of all my parts.

So this month, as a special holiday season gift, I am going to give you 4-5 things that you can do to start training women better today, right this very moment; without doing anything special, expensive, or time consuming!

  1. Screen more thoroughly.

This is a thing you could do for any population in your care, including an average man.

Think about what issues affect your target market or the majority of your clients?

I imagine if it’s people with disability you’d be looking at issues with access and affordability.

Young men in regional areas are at higher risk of suicide, so a mental health first aid certificate might be appropriate.

Women, especially if they have kids of any age, need to be asked about their pelvic health, their menstrual cycle, and menopause. The questions need to be screening for symptoms as well as known conditions; incontinence, prolapse, feelings of heaviness around their vagina, and back pain, just to name a few.

To see how IntoYou combined AusActive’s duty of care pre screen with issues unique to women’s health, you can download this free pre-screen here:

I have so often asked myself:

  • How did I ever think it was ok to not understand my own body?
  • How was it that I was almost 40 before I learned about my hormone fluctuations and cycle?
  • How is it, that everything from autoimmune disease, to dementia, to osteoporosis and more affect twice as many women as they do men, yet studies on women take up only 8% of all research?? How is this ok????
  • How is it that in this day and age, diagnostic manuals still don’t differentiate between male and female symptoms, so for things like heart disease, outcomes for women haven’t improved in 50yrs?

So yes, I am frustrated. Even more so when the majority of personal trainers are men, and 0% of men are participating in my courses, with similar percentages across my competitors. What. The. Actual. F*k. Frustrated is too sedate a word.

2) Start Tracking Her Cycle

So today’s thing that you can do right now to improve your training of your female clients, is to start tracking her cycle, possibly even asking detailed questions and charting for her, or teaching her how to chart. Even if you decide not to formally learn about the menstrual cycle, this will give you a wealth of information about HER HEALTH.

Tracking your female clients menstrual cycles give you valuable insight in to:

  • Are you doing too much or not enough?
  • Is today a good day to lead heavy or work on technique and/or endurance?
  • Is she fuelling enough or not?
  • Is she sleeping enough or not?
  • Is she stressed or relaxed?
  • And more if you know a little about the cycle…

So, your gift today is links below on a bunch of tracking apps, and a 50% discount code for my menstrual cycle mini course that will only take an hour to complete, if you choose to do it! After all, I promised no time or money investment – so tracking starting today is the change!!


FitR Woman:

Some of these allow coach access, too, which is valuable if you’re training high performance women.

Just to be clear, we are tracking her cycle NOT for the performance benefits, because the cycle does not have an impact on performance. We are tracking her cycle to gather HEALTH information about the body in front of you…

  1. Do Weights… Heavy Ones

It might take you one or two sessions, it might take 3 years, but start working towards heavy, and I mean really heavy, weight training. Now, before you go out and load your client, understand that there is a process, which is why many women will not do heavy weights for years, despite starting today, including:

  1. Get her pelvic floor checked by a women’s health physio. You can look up your closest WHO here:

  2. Build gradually to heavy weights, educating your client on the journey there (women perform better when they understand WHY)

So women need to weight train, eat protein, and do all the things that men have been doing in the gym for a hundred years. This fact is perhaps one of the reasons why women aren’t lifting heavy enough or eating enough protein, because they associate it with the men in the room.

Women just do not have the hormonal profile to bulk up like a man, and for your female clients, the biggest “bang for buck” for health, disease prevention, and longevity is weights.

For any female client, of any age, we want to be working towards weights so heavy they can only lift them 3-6 times. Repeat that for 3-5 sets, twice a week, and you’ve just reduced their chances for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis1.

If cardio is important to this client, then plyometric work (and power training) is the go, but once again, you’ll need to build up and have some understanding of the female pelvic floor. Until then, then give her 3-6 compound exercises in the above pattern (like deadlift, lat pull down, bench press as an example), then use the cardio machines for the rest of the session. Alternatively, you could alternate sessions, or set “homework” for her to do between sessions. The important thing is that she gets on the weights, and starts working towards heavy weights.

I’ll repeat this, because it’s an important caveat – with 30% of your female clients likely to have some kind of pelvic dysfunction, please work with a women’s health physio before loading them up. We are working towards this goal – not throwing it at the tomorrow! Look up your closest WHP here:

Another caveat – get her off weights machines and in to free weights, where possible, unless the machine is designed specifically for a female’s proportions. If you’re going to lift heavy, you need to allow her body to move the way a female body moves, and being locked in to a machine designed for the average male body is not the way to do that!

Learn how to build up to Heavy Lifting with your clients with pelvic dysfunction here:

4) Increase Weight Loads / Decrease Length of Work Component of Session

From today, you’re going to offer 30-45min sessions to your female clients, and I am even going to give you a downloadable template. This is especially important for your breastfeeding and perimenopausal women, but is beneficial for so many other reasons. Once again, I am aware that I am generalising, that there is a spectrum, and that not all women will feel this way; however given that women are coming to gyms less than men, it stands to reason that some of these tweaks may encourage more women to stick around:

  1. Women especially mums, are time poor. You make exercise more accessible to them if your sessions are short and easy to fit in (this will not make them any less effective).
  2. Women suffer major mum guilt whenever they do something for themselves. A shorter, cheaper session makes it easier for her to justify the “luxury”.
  3. Women have a harder time putting on muscle and bone than men, meaning heavier loads and longer rests are necessary. This is possible in a 30min session if you cut the cardio. She can do cardio in her own time, in fact, women generally being better at endurance will mean it’ll also be easier for her to do on her own than coming in to the gym.
  4. A shorter session reduces risk of over training, for your athletic clients. Stick to the nuts and bolts of her session, and let her do her extra training in her own time, preferably after a snack.
  5. A shorter session with heavy loads and long rests keep her stress hormones better balanced; the same ones that are keeping her awake at night, sending her in to the biscuit tin in the afternoons, and holding on to her body fat around her waist. Please note, I said better balanced, stress hormones are a necessary and beneficial response to exercise, but women are experiencing much greater lifestyle stress and exercise can contribute to that stress2.
  6. A shorter session, at a higher intensity, can bring results and benefits on parr with longer exercise bouts at a lower intensity. This gives your client more bang for buck from their sessions3. Furthermore, it might mean all she needs to do between each session is walk, yoga, and activities that bring her joy… what an impact on those aforementioned stress hormones!!

Men and women respond to exercise, and different modes of exercise differently. Just think about the testosterone response to strength training in men – do you really think it’s the same for women??? It’s not. Depending on the study and the load, women will experience a small increase in testosterone immediately after training, or none at all4. Blood tests taken from women who had just performed 3 x 10 in seven exercises (1min rest) showed that women have greater growth hormone response to this training, and this level is sustained over time5.

Downloadable 30min Session Planner

5) Include Stress Management in Every Session

Stress is a bigger issue for women than it is for men, and women respond differently to stress as well6! Stress can be in the form of mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, hormonal, a response to a specific event, or imagined.. they will all impact the person physically as well7.

In both humans and animals, the female secretes higher levels of corticosterone in response to both physical and psychological stressors, as well as living with a higher base line, both of which lead to a higher susceptibility to mental health problems8 9. This difference in the baseline and stress response also affects your female client’s immune systems, hormonal balance (specifically the HPA axis), the structure of their brains, and their development10. In other words, it’s a big deal for every system and organ; from their neuromuscular functioning to their brain health.

Exercise can both improve stress, and make it worse. Because of the high correlation between chronic stress and cardiovascular disease11, engaging in exercise is very important, however, studies show the higher her stress, the less she’ll move12.

Because we work physically with women, we have the opportunity to work hormonally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. Whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, every decision we make will impact her whole body, mind, spirit, and soul. It is for this reason we recommend including some kind of “down training”, something soothing to her soul, her brain, and her hormonal system, at the end of every session13.

Even if your sessions are 30min, you need to make time for a 2min-5 mindfulness, massage, meditation, or soothing movement practise that will down regulate her nervous system. Each woman is different, but some ideas on how I’ve relaxed even the most highly strung client include:

  • Lying them on their back with their feet elevated (against a wall or on a chair)
  • Lying with a foam roller along their spine.
  • Hands on massage (2min)
  • Hands on stretch (touch is powerful – with permission of course)
  • Playing a song from their 20’s while they’re lying down
  • Mindfulness and breathwork
  • A 5min Yoga routine with breathwork

It doesn’t have to take long to be effective. Generally, your female clients will need more of this when:

  • They haven’t slept well
  • They’re experiencing lifestyle stress
  • They haven’t eaten or hydrated well
  • They’re in their luteal, especially late luteal phase of their cycle

Conversely, you may reduce the time spent in your stress management ritual if:

  • They’re sleeping well
  • They’re relaxed, generally, in life and work
  • They’re eating a healthy, whole food diet regularly and hydrating well
  • They’re in their follicular phase of their cycle

All of these changes are possible to implement immediately, without a course, and any planning whatsoever if you use the resources we’ve given you above. Women deserve better treatment and better training methods, and this will get you started on delivering that to them!


1Sims, Dr Stacy (2022) Why Women Need More Strength Training and Less Cardio Training, retrieved 18th December 2023 from

2Hackney AC, Walz EA. Hormonal adaptation and the stress of exercise training: the role of glucocorticoids. Trends Sport Sci. 2013;20(4):165-171. PMID: 29882537; PMCID: PMC5988244.

3Young, Randy (2020) 12-minute Exercise Bursts Offer Big Benefits The Harvard Gazette, retrieved 12th Dec 2023 from

4Vingren JL, Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Anderson JM, Volek JS, Maresh CM. Testosterone physiology in resistance exercise and training: the up-stream regulatory elements. Sports Med. 2010 Dec 1;40(12):1037-53. doi: 10.2165/11536910-000000000-00000. PMID: 21058750.

5Taylor, J. M., Thompson, H. S., Clarkson, P. M., Miles, M. P., and De Souza, M. J. (2000). Growth hormone response to an acute bout of resistance exercise in weight-trained and non-weight-trained women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 14(2), pp 220-227.

6Verma R, Balhara YP, Gupta CS. Gender differences in stress response: Role of developmental and biological determinants. Ind Psychiatry J. 2011 Jan;20(1):4-10. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.98407. PMID: 22969173; PMCID: PMC3425245.

7Farhane-Medina NZ, Luque B, Tabernero C, Castillo-Mayén R. Factors associated with gender and sex differences in anxiety prevalence and comorbidity: A systematic review. Science Progress. 2022;105(4). doi:10.1177/00368504221135469

8Solomon M.B., Herman J.P. Sex differences in psychopathology: of gonads, adrenals and mental illness. Physiol. Behav. 2009;97:250–258

9Altemus M. Sex differences in depression and anxiety disorders: potential biological determinants. Horm. Behav. 2006;50:534–538.

10Verma R, Balhara YP, Gupta CS. Gender differences in stress response: Role of developmental and biological determinants. Ind Psychiatry J. 2011 Jan;20(1):4-10. doi: 10.4103/0972-6748.98407. PMID: 22969173; PMCID: PMC3425245.

11Franklin BA, Rusia A, Haskin-Popp C, Tawney A. Chronic Stress, Exercise and Cardiovascular Disease: Placing the Benefits and Risks of Physical Activity into Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 21;18(18):9922. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18189922. PMID: 34574843; PMCID: PMC8471640.

12Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Sinha R. The effects of stress on physical activity and exercise. Sports Med. 2014 Jan;44(1):81-121. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0090-5. PMID: 24030837; PMCID: PMC3894304.

13Patricia A. Coulter, Kathy Dickman, Ann Maradiegue, The Effects of Exercise on Stress in Working Women, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 5, Issue 6, 2009, Pages 408-413, ISSN 1555-4155,