How Women Should Train! My Rant

by Marianne  - September 11, 2011

Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I had a good ould rant, so I am not going to make any apologies about this one 😉 In the past, I have gotten into a little trouble over my rants as I tend to “pick on” or make an example of someone that may appear as if I am bitching or, just being jealous of others’ success or whatever. This post today has been purely motivated by MY feelings that women are being TARGETED and falling prey to poorly designed, oppressive, highly marketed and down-right sexist fitness advice and expectations! Not jealousy – although it does bug the life out of me that these people make millions from selling this shite! The example I am using today is Tracy Anderson and her “methods”.  This made me so mad on so many levels, I had to write about it, so here goes… *deep breath*.

Please understand that this is just how I have interpreted the message, and I have nothing against Tracy Anderson as a person. I realise she has a lot of fans, but that doesn’t mean that what she is selling is good – it means she has a hell of a marketing strategy.  That is something that you need to bear in mind when you see these products. Always do your research.

Anyway, back to the rant…

Now, I am fully aware that what I think looks feminine and what looks bulky is going to be different to others. I also know that there are possibly many people who have had benefits from Tracy’s workouts and her advice.  However, the issues I have lie in certain comments made through the videos Tracy appears in that fuel the fire of the myths in female training (even that fact that I am referring to “female training” is bugging me).

In my view these comments are strategically placed and are a deliberate attempt to reinforce the belief systems that; women should not train with heavy weights, women need high reps, there is such a thing as spot reduction and that your fitness journey is something that only needs to last “90 days”, or some other temporary time-frame. I believe that all of these comments are made with the sole purpose to SELL Tracy’s product and Tracy’s niche!  Given that most women still believe these things, it is a very clever marketing strategy. But, it is also exploitation because it feeds off the insecurities that women already hold and the pressures already streaming from society and the media.

On the surface Tracy talks about including variety and I guess “compound” exercises into your routine, with cardio, and a better diet which is good advice, but then she goes and ruins it by saying things like the following host of statements:

In the video above she says @ 00:41 “… over working muscles creates bulk” – really?? No, Testosterone + a calorie surplus + heavy weights creates bulk. By mentioning “bulk” viewers already buy into Tracy’s system, that will ensure their muscles are not “over-worked” and will therefore be safe from getting bulky.  Tracy wants women to believe her routines will get them a muscular structure that is “teenie tiny and strong” with “lots of sexy definition” – talk about using all the keywords that people want to hear!  How can you get stronger and more defined when all you EVER use is a maximum of 3lb.  A hairdryer weights more! If that worked, I’d say most women would have sexy defined arms, except those who let their hair dry naturally 😉

In fairness there are women who believe me to be “bulky”, so I guess it’s left up to your own interpretation – which is also clever, because we all know what happens when our imagination is left in control … exaggeration!  So, what Tracy is trying to do here is to reinforce the fear that if you “overwork” your muscles, you will get bulky in what ever form that means for you.  I find this confusing, since she also states later in the video that “60, 80 or 100 reps” of an exercise is what you need to get “long, lean” muscles!! Really? What does she mean my “over-work” then? What this ridiculous rep range suggestion achieves is to emphasise that women NEED high reps. But, why do 100 of something when you can get better and faster results by adding resistance progressively and doing less reps? It also takes less time out of your day.

Moving to the section on arm exercises (about 8 minutes into the video). Is it wrong that this section made me laugh out loud at times! No harm to Tracy but standing like a scarecrow and not even using your own body weight will get you great arms? It took me to master the push up, before I saw any real changes in my arms. In my experience, it takes you to a least get triceps to make a great-looking arm, not flapping your arms up and down. Besides most women have issues with “bingo wings”, so show them how to grow their triceps, by building some upper body strength, and then lose body fat if you want toned, lean arms! In my opinion, Tracy’s arm routine (in this video) is crap! Seriously if you want toned arms you need to do more than just rotated them … that’s a warm up! It’s not that these exercises won’t have some benefits (for beginners), but there is no encouragement to progress and actually get stronger.  What angered me most was her saying that these routines are “great rotations, especially for women”. Why? Because you never reach your potential? You never strive beyond 3lbs? You are pigeon-holed into being weak, and different to men? … it gets better:

At 1 min 20 sec – women must stay at 3lb while men get more weight AND an added “bonus” exercise. WHAT!  Ok ladies, if you stay at 3lbs and never add the “bonus exercise”, you will avoid the dreaded bulk of men!  The message from this is: Women must be restricted because otherwise we run the risk of turning into the Hulk overnight.  I really can’t help but mock this, because it is just too ridiculous for words. What happened to trainers wanting the best for people – educating and teaching the best methods which will allow your body to actually get strong and STAY strong!

In all seriousness, for any women out there who have wondered about adding more weight, you will not end up looking like a man. You WILL gain strength and muscle, which will stabilise your body and help you in everyday activities, never mind the sense of empowerment and confidence.  If there are any mothers out there, you have already been strengthening your body progressively by carrying a growing baby! When you lift your child time and time again (which I assume weighs more than 3lbs), did you end up bulky then?

At 2 mins 18 seconds, Tracy is asked why ALL women use 3lbs. In her fluffy answer she throws in words like “long, lean and feminine” and then states “I’m not opposed to lifting more than 3lbs, it’s just how you use it”.  I guess that is where the “bonus exercise for men only” starts to make sense.  So now viewers believe that there are female exercises and male exercises. The saddest part was when I looked at the view count on YouTube there was 20,000 odd, 37 “likes” and ZERO “dislikes” 🙁 … well there’s one “dislike” now 😉 Each video was the same, masses of “likes”. People clearly buy into this!

Now take a look at the promotion video below:

Firstly : “Omnicentric” ?? I laughed so hard at this!

On a serious note, “90 days” … 90 days should only be THE START of your fitness journey. What happens after that Tracy? This is terrible teaching, but excellent marketing!

One of the biggest problems in the fitness industry is inconsistency. The fact that few fitness experts actually support each other and try to streamline the information that gets filtered down to the masses, makes selling outrageous claims like “90 days” all the easier.  That, and everyone wants to make a quick buck off the “latest thing”.  All the while people can’t wait to jump on the next “band-wagon” and “quick-fix”.

I realise my rant is filled with sarcastic remarks and piss-takes, but I do have a real worry that women listen to this and buy into this mindset. The “likes and “dislikes” of the videos has really emphasised that people want to believe in this stuff.  WHY is that?  Seriously, I am asking if anyone can tell me why? Is it because weights are intimidating, is it lack if positive exposure to women strength training? Is it laziness?  To me, it’s probably a bit of everything. We want to look good, but most women still believe “looking good” is to be thin.  Strength is a “man-trait”. What do women need to be strong for, right? In the 21st Century is society so backward that women still feel they have to appear weaker? Maybe that is a little deep and too serious, but I do wonder about the source of these beliefs. Maybe it is just easier to let the masses stay blind when it’s a pretty good money-maker.  Why bother with the truth, when the ground work is already done to allow these gimmicks to sell.

There are so many agendas at play in this belief system that it has just dawned on me how steep the battle is for those of us who are fighting to change them and encourage women to break FREE of these restrictions.  Getting all you ladies out there to understand that strength training will not make you look like a man but will allow you to start making positive changes to your body and mind, is going to be a little harder than expected. That sounds like a challenge to me 😀

Who wants to live in the shackles that society/media place on us? I once did and it got me nowhere but unhappy and frustrated with my body!

Sometimes rebelling is the best thing you could ever do!

The saddest part was when I looked at the view count on YouTube there was 20,000 odd, 37 “likes” and ZERO “dislikes” 🙁 … well there’s one now, but this has just emphasised to me, the up-hill battle I some of us are fighting to try and encourage women to break FREE of these restrictions


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  1. I just added my youtube video “Junk Fitness: Tracy Anderson” and all I got was pathetic comments on how I dont know what I am talking about and the TA method is so goooooood and they are strong. What are their muscles made of? Air? I get so fired up with all this feminine fitness junk and all the gullible women who buy into the low calorie diet and strive to look a teeny tiny and like a dancer. I looked like that once, I was anorexic and 103 lbs. I always tell the women that I train at the gym that you will look femininely is if they put up heavy weights with prooper form and wait patiently and eat more clean and more quantity. Tracy Anderson is the proof that women are still a long way to go. But I am so happy that our generation is heading into real strength through heavy weightlifting.

  3. I just found this article. My question is, does Tracy’s videos (mat) not work at all? How about the Barre Method? I have seen people who have had results with the Barre Method, and they were on a healthy, normal diet. Thx

    1. Jillian, I am sure that this method (along side a healthy diet) would allow you to see improvements in strength, stability and flexibility … but it all depends on your personal training goals. The results from this method would not have got me into the shape I am in today, but someone else might be satisfied with the results they can achieve from it.

      However, my whole point in this article was that Tracy feeds the myth that if women lift a weight heavier than 3lbs, then they will be bulky, and also that you can somehow change your muscle into “long and lean” ones.

      If you are happy with the results of your training, no matter the method, then I think that’s the main thing – ensuring you are not getting injured 🙂

  4. I actually did an internet search to find someone who would commiserate with me about Tracy Anderson and this 3 lb. nonsense. What a load of crap! I seek comfort in the fact that I could probably snap her in half. Furthermore, I don’t see how anyone could find this kind of physique attractive. It’s always bothered me that women are so selectively empowered. They want to be able to compete in the job market, but they don’t want to be able to lift their own laundry or open a jar of pickles? It’s so frustrating. There’s nothing more empowering that lifting heavy things. Strength is power–quite literally.

  5. WHY AM I JUST NOW READING THIS??!!!!? I usually find every chance I can to rant about Tracy Anderson – her gym used to be right down the road from Daniel and I’s old apartment! 😛 I digress…

    Just wanted to let you know that I am reading your blog again after a super busy semester and I THINK ABOUT YOU BUNCHES! You inspire me so much.


    1. You have been super busy with EVERYTHING ELSE, that’s why you haven’t read it! 😀 Great to have you back too! What a week for myomy alumni returning … Gillian and now Melissa 😀 The family back together!

      We will Skype VERY soon chick – I am super busy too, so don’t feel bad 🙂

  6. Great post! I agreed with everything you said. It bugs me too when women say they don’t want to “bulk up” WTF?!? How is that possible? I’ve seen more changes to my body composition after doing more bodyweight exercises and lifting heavier weights. No 3lb pink dumbbells for this gal!! 🙂

  7. ha ha sorry i didnt actually get to the arms i have and that is even more funny…oh wow i cannot believe anyone does this stuff…having a fit of laughter right now!

  8. ha ha ha that video of the Tracey method is ridiculous. How can anyone think posing and prancing around with little pink dumbells and moving their hips and legs like that will help them be fit strong and look toned lol sooo funny I honestly thought the video was a spoof or something at first!

    Its like the ballet craze scince the black swan movie… everyone is doing these toning ballet workouts with tons of reps but what they fail to realise is that ballerinas are tiny cos they eat very little and jump around very much!

    Thank goodness for women of sense, like you 🙂

    1. Thanks Lisa! There is a Ballet craze because of the film about an obsession with perfection that it drove the girl mad? That is insane! It just gets more and more ridiculous 🙁

      Marianne 🙂

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