You’re stronger when you’re ovulating, you shouldn’t be peeing your pants when you jump, and you CAN do pull-ups (but they are harder for women). I admit I’m a bit overwhelmed by estrogen after attending the inaugural Women’s Fitness Summit this weekend, but I’m also feeling super inspired.
Besides all of the excellent information and advice that was shared (and I’ll get to that in a minute), what I loved was how supportive the women putting on the conference were of one another. They talked each other up during their presentations, cited each other’s studies, and were quick to refer tough questions when another speaker was more qualified to answer. I think sometimes women get a bad rap for being jealous and competitive—especially in the fitness industry, but these women obviously put that stereotype to rest. I love this because it’s such a good example of how working together can make women even stronger. (yes, I just got mushy—feel free to gag.)
As for that excellent information, here’s a sampling from some of the smart, talented women who spoke at the event in Kansas CIty.
Feed your muscles. –from Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD
Most female athletes don’t eat enough carbs. “In the under-fueled, exercising female, the brain will restrict how much fuel you have available for voluntary activities, and energy output will be low. It will only be what your body is allowing you to burn,” Kleiner says. How many carbs do we need? Aim for 5-6g/kg of bodyweight per day if you’re performing moderate intensity/low duration exercise, or 7-12g/kg of bodyweight per day for high duration/high intensity exercise.
Train for long-term success. –from Molly Galbraith
“If you want to pursue extreme goals, that’s fine, but just remember that for most people, extreme has a shelf life. It doesn’t matter that you get in the gym tomorrow or the next day; it matters that you’re in there in 30 years.”
Do pull-ups. –from Jen Sinkler
- Instead of starting with a hollow, closed body, initiate your pull in an open, deadhang position. Once you get your body off the floor, switch to a closed position.
- If you can’t do a full pull-up, focus on the isometric (holding) and eccentric (lowering) phases. Stand on a tall box and pull yourself up from there. Hold at the top. Then lower yourself all the way down from the bar as slowly as possible.
- Practice pull-ups often, but not to failure.
Manage sugar cravings. –from Brooke Kalanick, ND
If you typically crave sugar between meals, it’s a good indicator that you have low blood sugar. If your cravings occur after meals, it’s more likely insulin resistance. If you suspect that you’re insulin resistant, make sure to take in enough carbs in your evening meal. If you have low blood sugar, take in carbs throughout your day in small meals.
Stop peeing when you jump, run, cough, sneeze, etc. –from Ann Wendel, PT, ATC
“Leaking is just one way to ID a pelvic floor dysfunction, which is an outward sign of an imbalance in the deep core,” says Wendel. Women often assume PFD is caused by weakness in the pelvic floor, but in many cases the problem is that they can’t relax their pelvic floor muscles. Since the muscles are already engaged (hypertonic), they can’t contract. So before you go crazy on the kegels, focus on relaxing your pelvic floor.
Get low. –from Elsbeth Vaino, CSCS
Because of the shape of the female pelvis, women are well built to squat. We naturally have more mobility than men, which means we can get lower. However, our anatomy can make it more difficult to generate power and can also make us less stable. Because of this, women should focus on strengthening muscles that stabilize the pelvis, such as gluteus medius.
Teach by doing, not by cueing. –from Joy Victoria
Sometimes external cues (drive your feet into the floor) are more powerful than internal cues (squeeze your glutes). But often to get a client to do what you want them to do and feel what you want them to feel, the best strategy is to set them up. “Putting someone in a position is way more powerful than giving them 10 cues at once,” says Victoria.
Understand your cycle –from Marni Tumbal, RD
Depending on what phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in, expect training and competing to feel different. For instance, if you are ovulating, your hormones actually can make you more tolerant of heat, more resistant to fatigue and even stronger. If you’re about to get your period, however, you might want to reduce your training volume and take an easy day.
Pictured above: Jen Sinkler teaches the Jefferson Deadlift to summit participants.
(Want more info on the WFS? Check out www.womensfitnesssummit.com)