120 Tips on Strength Training for Women

For six months I’ve been taking notes while training my female clients, and I’m finally comfortable with the list. Here are 120 tips on strength training for women (many aren’t really tips, just observations). Please understand that I intend no disrespect or offense, I’m not trying to be controversial, I’m aware that I could be wrong in some cases, and obviously I’ve made broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to this list. My primary intent is to inform other trainers and coaches about my observations – it’s likely that your observations will differ from mine. Here they are separated into four categories:

Exercise Considerations

  1. Women have to be taught that the eccentric portion of the movement is important, and most will let their form go down the tubes when lowering their last rep of a set (for example during deadlifts or chins)
  2. Women are more prone than men to exhibit valgus collapse during squatting – while individual differences such as Q-angles contribute to this, “sitting like a lady” probably contributes to it as well
  3. A woman’s glutes can become stronger than a male’s – indicated by a greater relative hip thrust strength seen in women (a 2xBW hip thrust appears to be much more common in trained women than trained men, as is a 3xBW hip thrust)
  4. Proper push-up form is much more difficult to attain for women than it is for men
  5. Women have good “reactive/elastic strength” or stretch-shortening cycle efficiency, but they have poor “starting strength” – for example if they start a deadlift or shoulder press from the top of the movement with an eccentric lowering first, the performance is markedly better than if they perform the concentric portion first (more so than that of men)
  6. Some women struggle to activate their glutes with straightened legs (ex: planks and back extensions), but easily can when the knees are bent (ex: squats and hip thrusts) – I don’t quite know why this occurs
  7. Women utilize a variety of lumbar-pelvic strategies when lifting and often resort to overarching (excessive hyperextension) the spine during planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts
  8. Most women prefer the EZ bar over the traditional barbell for hip thrusts as their pelvises can get beat up by traditional barbells (depends on the EZ bar though)
  9. Some women have “coregasms” when training, and the hanging leg raise is the primary culprit (these orgasms usually aren’t welcomed as they’re inconvenient)
  10. Bodyweight exercises for the upper body are much harder for women compared to men
  11. Bodyweight reverse hypers are often more effective for women compared to men
  12. Single leg RDL form comes more naturally to women due to better hip flexion mobility
  13. Conversely, single leg squat form is more difficult for women due to anatomical differences (Q-angle) and greater frontal plane hip stability requirements

Programming Design Considerations

  1. Women have much better stamina than men in terms of training density at higher intensities – they don’t require as much intra-set rest time as men
  2. Most women initially possess “quad dominance”, which should actually be referred to as “posterior chain weakness”
  3. Women are not initially very competent at executing 1RM’s, and this skill takes more time to develop in women compared to men
  4. Women tend to go too light with resistance training, whereas men tend to go too heavy to the point where their form breaks down too much or they rely on excessive momentum (there’s a popular saying in our industry that women should add 10% to the bar while men should take 10% off the bar)
  5. Women’s upper bodies are much weaker than those of men – lower body strength is around 70-75% of men, whereas upper body strength is around 40-60%
  6. When the spine is taken out of the equation, women’s relative compound lower body strength is more comparable to that of men (example leg press, hip thrust), however, in lifts that require significant spinal stability, relative compound lower body strength lags even greater when compared to men (example squats, deadlifts)
  7. Many women love isolation lifts and feeling the burn with them, probably too much, as most of them love these movements for the wrong reasons (see next point)
  8. The vast majority of women believe in spot reduction – even if they’ve heard the truth about spot reduction on numerous occasions (many mistakenly believe that tricep, adductor, and low ab exercises burn fat in those regions)
  9. Most women think there’s some magic fitness secret out there and therefore try to juggle every fitness methodology under the sun, which results in being mediocre at a variety of things rather than highly skilled in one or just a few areas
  10. Many women can tolerate greater training frequency of heavy lifting for the upper body due to less neural demand on account of lower strength levels
  11. Women absolutely love it when they perform their first legitimate push-up and chin-up, and many love doing “masculine” things in the gym such as pushing sleds
  12. Some women who have boob jobs have to permanently alter their programming, others don’t, and some can resume normal training after a period of time (for example, prone exercises, pec exercises, and even lat exercises can be problematic)
  13. Women tend to appreciate excellent form more so than men and aren’t as prone to “ego lifting”
  14. However, many women lack the fortitude and dedication to ever see incredible results from lifting due to “being a lifter” rather than “being a student of weight lifting”
  15. Many women will never appear “too muscular” no matter how much resistance training they perform
  16. Some women, however, can indeed get too big of quads through progressive overload with squats/lunges, contrary to popular opinion
  17. And some women can indeed get too big of traps/back through progressive overload with deadlifts, contrary to popular opinion
  18. Some women can get too muscular for their preferences in the upper body and should simply utilize variety rather than progressive overload for upper body lifts
  19. Women can indeed build blocky abdominals with too much core training
  20. The vast majority of women will never have “too much booty” as in gluteus maximus musculature no matter how much resistance training they perform
  21. Most women feel that plyos have some special fat-zapping properties for the legs (they don’t)
  22. Many women resort to sprinting for glute-building and end up injuring themselves due to inadequate preparation – a better strategy is to simply master the hip thrust as it’s markedly safer for non-athletes
  23. If you let them, many women would perform their entire workout as one giant circuit (therefore you have to teach them to rest adequately for strength gains)
  24. Women require smaller jumps in progressive overload – smaller plates are therefore critical (example 1.25-2.5lbs), as are smaller barbells (and smaller jumps in db’s, kb’s, and bands)
  25. Women prefer variety with training – put a man in a garage with pair of squat stands and a barbell loaded with bumper plates and he’d be accepting, whereas a woman would sorely miss her kettlebells, suspension system, and elastic bands

Anatomical, Physiological, Psychological, and Random Considerations

  1. Women in general complain about pain more frequently than men (by the way, the notion that women have higher pain tolerances than men is not supported in the literature)
  2. Many women loathe calluses and prefer to wear lifting gloves as they feel it allows them to retain their femininity – and I have absolutely no problem with this as a trainer
  3. The hip thrust strength discrepancy between men and women is strange because the literature shows that women’s glutes are smaller compared to men, both in an absolute and a relative manner, though individual variation in glute size is enormous
  4. Women’s muscles, when expressed per unit of area, produce the same amount of force as those of men, but women carry less muscle mass (18-22 less kgs of lean body mass)
  5. This spinal stability discrepancy between men and women may have to do with the lesser leverage (moment arms) of core muscles on account of smaller torsos in women compared to men, which translates to lesser spinal stability strength per amount of muscle force
  6. Compared to men, most women have better hip, t-spine, shoulder, and pelvic mobility
  7. It is common for women, however, to have poor ankle mobility – just as it is for men
  8. Many women initially possess very poor levels of core stability; even more so than men
  9. An alarming number of female beginners possess very little noticeable levels of glute activation during various glute exercises
  10. Women tend to be very grateful and appreciative of their trainers, more so than men
  11. Some women giggle when they’re struggling with exercise form or when pushing a set near failure – men don’t do this
  12. Women love feeling strong, contrary to popular opinion
  13. Women often bring drama to the gym and have more trouble detaching from everyday life-struggles when training
  14. Women are great motivators and encouragers in the gym
  15. Women have different physique goals than men, and this needs to be taken into account with programming
  16. Women often struggle to load and unload plates off of barbells properly due to pulling or positioning them off-track rather than centering them perfectly and pushing/pulling straight-on
  17. High heels likely contributes to certain women’s quad dominance and tight plantarflexors
  18. Certain female sexual positions might contribute to women possessing good hip mobility and pelvic control (ex: ones that have the woman in a deep squat position, ones that have the woman in a bridge position, ones that have the woman rocking their hips back and forth, etc.)
  19. More women than men tend to look to the side during sagittal plane lifts – their eyes veer off to the left or right rather than remain focused straight ahead
  20. Women don’t tend to look at themselves in the mirror as much as men when training
  21. More women possess hypermobility than men
  22. On average, women are not as consistent as men at keeping training logs
  23. Women are not as proficient at learning gym lingo, learning the names of exercises, and learning which exercises work the various muscles compared to men
  24. Women differ anatomically compared to men (for example, the average male over 20 yrs of age is 5’10” and weighs 190 lbs, whereas the average female over 20 yrs of age is 5’4” and weighs 163 lbs – in addition, women possess wider pelvises and larger Q-angles than men)
  25. Women differ physiologically compared to men, which influences anatomy (for example they possess greater bodyfat percentages of 25-31% compared to men at 18-24%)
  26. Women differ psychologically compared to men (for example they’re motivated to train uniquely, and what revs up a man to max out doesn’t necessarily rev up a woman to max out)
  27. It is common for women to miss periods (menstrual cycles) upon embarking on an intensive training regimen (not to be confused with amenorrhea which happens when body fat drops too low)
  28. Menstrual cycles usually have a huge influence on factors such as training motivation, irritability/mood, water retention, and self-esteem during exercise
  29. The size of women’s breasts and also butts can fluctuate markedly throughout the month, which can lead to frustration
  30. Some women experience urinary incontinence when exercising, and the likelihood increases after giving birth
  31. Woman are better than men at fostering camaraderie but not quite as good as men at holding training partners accountable for showing up
  32. Many women don’t activate their pelvic floor muscles properly
  33. Women tend to prefer different training music than men
  34. More women than men like to offer up the phrase “they say” as proof of evidence (who exactly is “they”?)
  35. Most women don’t like getting weighed on scales, and many prefer to see how clothes fit as measures of progress (I don’t agree with this practice as I like to utilize all measures of progress)
  36. Women like wearing pink workout apparel and take their training attire much more seriously than men (for example they tend to match their shoes with their shorts or shirts, etc.)
  37. Women love putting chalk on their hands and then clapping hard – thereby getting chalk everywhere rather than keeping it solely on the hands (they probably do this because they saw gymnasts do it)
  38. Women are not as natural as men at adjusting machines and apparatuses
  39. Women love compliments – it fuels their fire to train even harder
  40. Most women are initially very insecure about lifting weights – many desire private or small training environments since they’re less intimidating
  41. Many women are very intimidated of free-weights in general – especially in gyms, and especially in free-weight sections of heavily populated gyms – which is why many opt for the cardio area
  42. Many women overvalue the importance of cardio, met-con, and high-intensity interval training
  43. Many women overvalue the importance of stretching
  44. Many women overvalue the importance of abdominal training
  45. Many women undervalue the importance of strength
  46. Many women fear getting bulky – and sometimes this fear is warranted as it can indeed happen, especially with certain muscle groups (despite most trainers and coaches saying it’s not a concern)
  47. Compared to men, women carry a greater percentage of their weight in their lower bodies and a lower percentage of their weight in their upper bodies
  48. Most women will name types like Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, or Jamie Eason as their ideal physique – men tend to assume that all women want to look like J-Lo or Shakira
  49. The female body makes around 10% as much testosterone as a man’s, but androstenedione levels are similar (however testosterone levels vary dramatically between women)
  50. Genetics for muscle building varies dramatically between women, possibly due to the variances in T-levels, muscle fiber type proportions, and/or satellite cell efficiency
  51. Genetics for fat loss varies dramatically between women – some stay very lean despite consuming a surprisingly large amount of calories and/or “junk” food, whereas others seem to do everything right yet can’t improve their body composition
  52. Where women store fat varies dramatically between women – typical problematic areas for fat storage are the inner thighs, buttocks, and back of the arms, however some struggle in the lower abdominal and lower back regions too
  53. Where women build muscle varies dramatically between women – for example some women can grow a booty by just looking at a barbell, whereas others seem to do everything right but still struggle (some can even grow a booty by just doing tons of cardio, whereas this recipe would spell disasters for most women for that purpose)
  54. Most women, when looking in the mirror, hone in on their “problem areas” rather than focus on their best parts
  55. A small percentage of women possess what I call “Tasmanian devil syndrome,” characterized by a barrel chest with two chicken legs – this is the hardest body type to improve!
  56. Most women have well-intentioned male friends who give them horrendous advice pertaining to their goals
  57. If a woman has a boyfriend/husband who is a coach/trainer, she won’t listen to him no matter what his credentials are (never a prophet in your own land)
  58. More women than men attempt to chat during lifts, and they’ll even do so with maximal attempts (men instinctively shut their traps and focus on the task at hand when maxing out)
  59. Women prefer to hear feminine terms such as “firm,” toned,” “tight,” “lean,” “long,” “sculpted” and “sexy,” rather than masculine terms such as “jacked,” “yoked,” “swole,” “huge,” “ripped,” “shredded,” or “muscular,” and even the word “hypertrophy” can scare them off
  60. Women don’t tend to value training partners in the same manner that men do
  61. Women sometimes dress very sexy for the gym and are then annoyed when males show interest while they’re training, which on the surface doesn’t make the best of sense
  62. However, women often aren’t dressing to impress men, they like looking and feeling their best  in the gym for personal reasons related to motivation and confidence
  63. Women usually don’t want to be bothered in the gym – unsolicited advice from meatheads and cheesy pick-up lines get old quickly, yet men will nevertheless remain persistent
  64. Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence
  65. Some women make sexual-sounding grunts when lifting; men grunt but it doesn’t sound sexual
  66. Women respond differently hormonally to exercise than men (they tend to release more growth hormone, less testosterone and more cortisol)
  67. Some women prefer hiring a female trainer because they feel more comfortable and that a woman can relate better to their needs, whereas training with the same sex or they feel that a woman will better relate to their needs, while other women prefer hiring a male trainer since they feel that men can better motivate and push them to new levels of development
  68. Many women feel that all upper body training is “arm” training (they refer to chest, shoulder, and back exercises as arm exercises)
  69. During casual conversation, when most women imitate weight lifting form to friends, family members, or peers, all of a sudden they get the form all wrong (for example they’ll imitate a deadlift like an upright row)
  70. Many women are self-conscious about the way they look when lifting – for example they’re initially insecure about performing RDLs or hip thrusts, they’re keenly aware of how their clothing is situated on their bodies, and they try to avoid grimacing when the intensity rises
  71. Some women seem impossible with their complaints; for example one day they’re worried about getting too bulky and the next day they’re upset that they lost muscle size somewhere
  72. Women sometimes twist compliments into insults, and they’re more sensitive to criticism than men

Nutrition and Health Considerations

  1. Women are more gullible and prone to gimmicks and fads in regards to exercise and fitness
  2. However, women spend less money on muscle building supplements than men
  3. Women have better sleep quality compared to men – they sleep longer, they fall asleep faster, and their sleep is more efficient, but despite this, women have more sleep-related complaints than men (this is shown in the literature)
  4. Women are more prone than men to getting fooled into buying “fake” healthy foods (they trust labels and don’t inspect the ingredients and nutritional info)
  5. Many women don’t like the taste of protein shakes, whereas most men enjoy the taste
  6. Many women don’t consume optimal protein intake because they assume that items like yogurt and nuts are high in protein
  7. Many women have unhealthy attitudes about their body images
  8. Due to this, many women have unhealthy relationships with food – women are more prone to eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating
  9. Some women end up permanently damaging their metabolisms by engaging in unsafe dietary practices when training for competitions (often recommended by their trainers and coaches)
  10. Women tend to be better than men at getting in their fruits and veggies, whereas they don’t tend to crave meat and eggs as much as men

Strength Training for Women

443 thoughts on “120 Tips on Strength Training for Women

  1. Dwayne Lawrence

    Wow those are some great observations. I just started my first training job and most of my clients are women. I had to laugh at some of your points because I see them demonstrated on a daily basis. My younger female clients love the glute work that I get from your articles. Thank you for your work!

      1. Lindsay

        Well that settles it! I will never get a personal trainer!! Obviously all male personal trainers believe these stereotypical misogynistic “tips”, so why would I ever want to be trained by one? ESPECIALLY if all they can think about is how sexual my grunting is, and trying to figure out why I’m better at certain exercises and coming up with the explanation that it’s because of “sexual positions”. Which is obviously based on science… right? Because only women don’t listen to science and take anecdotal evidence as fact!

        These aren’t tips, or even relevant to women working out. This should be a BuzzFeed article called “10 stereotypical things women almost always do LOLZ IF THIS IS TRUE FOR YOU!!” This isn’t credible, and this isn’t professional, and these aren’t “tips”.

    1. Keli

      Some of your points are so sexist and random… There are plenty of women who don’t behave this way. Even when I first started lifting I didn’t do most of the things you outline. I prefer the words “muscular”, “swole”, and “ripped”. I didnt have a problem keeping a training journal. I actually do have a problem with ego lifting. Anyone with half a brain would know a chest exercise from an arm exercise. You’re speaking about women as if they are mentally retarded or half-witted when it comes to anything weight training related. Thanks for projecting these stereotypes out into the world.

      1. Pavlo

        “Please understand that I intend no disrespect or offense, I’m not trying to be controversial, I’m aware that I could be wrong in some cases, and obviously I’ve made broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to this list. My primary intent is to inform other trainers and coaches about my observations – it’s likely that your observations will differ from mine.”

        Looks like someone did not read the introduction paragraph.

      2. Youpi

        You’re super sensitive and it obviously presses your buttons. I’m a woman, I love exercising, I’m a trained fitness instructor, I have equal respect for women beginner in fitness as for beginner men, a lot of my male friend would be embarrassed or scared in taking a race or competition with me and I wouldn’t fit all the points on Bret’s list. However all I can say is fair juice to him for pulling this together. I can really relate to these observations and I agree with them if we look at a broad picture and talk in general terms. I surrender to and acknowledge our female/male differences. Weaknesses are only weak from one perspective and strength from another angle. All this brings to my mind this quote from Christian Pankhurst:
        “When I trained in Salsa dancing, it was apparent that for a dance to be successful, the guy needs to know how to lead. However, no matter how good of a dancer the ‘lead’ is, if his partner is not present and skilled at following and surrendering to that lead, the dance will not work. Surrender is not weakness, it’s a choice to gracefully yield in bliss. Nor is surrender a form of collapse. Great strength and independence is necessary before a woman can truly let go. You have to first hold something before you can let it go… thus, in Salsa, a woman who can dance by herself is better prepared when she dances with her man.”

      3. Nicole

        As Pavlo already pointed out…
        But! Stereotypes exist because they DO actually exist, especially in speaking of the AVERAGE WOMAN, whom he is speaking in regards to.
        When I went to regular gyms, and even in speaking with female coworkers, many of the points he brings up about the psychological side I saw in these women. How many times have I heard a woman tell me that she doesn’t want to get huge muscles, or that she doesn’t want rough hands? And I’ve heard many women get sensitive over being called muscular or ripped. Myself, I love weight-lifting, I am proud of my muscles and being referred to as “jacked”, and I am proud of my calluses. And so are majority of the women that I work-out with daily at my box. (And many of them are hyper-competitive, but that’s a whole different beast not so much related to fitness).
        But go outside of the weight-lifting platform and you will see many of these “stereotypes” in play because of what society tells women. Many women, and men, are not very knowledgeable about fitness or nutrition. AT ALL. I have heard from an alarming number of women “I want to get toned, but I don’t want to gain any muscle”. O_o.
        We need to be cognoscente of these “stereotypes”, beliefs, and misconceptions that women hold in their mind so we can help build their understanding of strength-training and its importance, as well as help them push away those fears and negative ideas and become a stronger person not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

        1. June

          Nicole I totally agree with your reply, just one tiny little problem. “Cognoscente” is used when you’re talking about people with superior or specialized knowledge in a particular field i.e. wine connoisseurs. “Cognizant,” on the other hand is used when you’re talking about “awareness.” Not trying to be rude, just helpful. Again, I thought your reply was on point. I too am proud of my calluses and love to refer to myself as an amazon woman (we all know these women weren’t toned but jacked and ripped!).

      4. clark dominic

        Haha you’re right. This author is belittling our women much! Women shall also focus on getting stronger regardless the common presumption that they are weak, born weak and consistently weak; big no no…

  2. Kari

    Where is the “science” you always preach about? Love hip thrusts and all things glutes. But honestly, this is disappointing. This does nothing to empower females in the weight room.

    1. Bret

      I just had a woman comment on my FB Fitness page saying that it was empowering for her??? Sorry that you don’t like it Kari. There is indeed tons of science contained within this article – tons. Much research was conducted, I just didn’t cite things.

      1. A.C.

        Seeing as how you’re working on you’re Ph.D., I can’t imagine it’s beyond you to put together a references section for this article if a lot of research did indeed go into it.

      2. Samantha

        I agree with the first 3 ‘groups’ of points. But after that, it does get stereotypical. Which is fine, there are many women who fit stereotypes,and they’re allowed to.

        But I feel like you are comparing ‘noob’/uneducated (on the subject of lifting) women to men who already know about these things. Many men learn about lifting from their friends and family or from school. Women don’t. And if men don’t, they end up just as un-educated as women, who rarely get these chances in the first place. I’ve seen plenty of men who knew nothing use the word ‘tone up’ and ‘didn’t want to get shredded’ and didn’t know the names or correct form for any exercises.

        If you compared a noob woman to a noob man, you’d have just as many ‘negative’-type things to say about the men.

        1. Nora

          Thank you for this point! I came here to read the direct source after reading the article referring to it on Jezebel. The problem with this list isn’t the question of the validity of assertions made, including some of the stereotypical behavior observed, but it is precisely to your point that if you substituted the word “newbie” for the word “woman,” 90% of the above would hold true for both sexes. The language implies an inherent misogyny, even if the author and others say they are just “observations.” I don’t think the author intends to have this tone, but I do think it’s absolutely great to start a conversation about *why* when women start to train there is perhaps a steeper learning curve. Women aren’t encouraged to do strength training in gym class, etc, growing up, and as you said have less peer and social pressure to know the basics of lifting and fitness. It’s not that women are inherently incapable. Again, I don’t think the author believes women are inherently incapable but the way things are phrased negates the strong social dynamic at play. I hope that the ensuing conversation around this article can be constructive, rather than a “swole bros versus uptight feminists” internet argument. It’s easy to attack this article, but I think we all need to question some assumptions and move forward with the conversation.

      3. Rapoeta

        All I can think reading this thread is the point 72…”Women sometimes twist compliments into insults, and they’re more sensitive to criticism than men.”

        1. CIF

          “Some women make sexual-sounding grunts when lifting; men grunt but it doesn’t sound sexual”

          Translation: I’m a straight dude who, because of culture, is prone to constantly sexualizing women.

          Stuff like that’s not a complement or insult. It’s just REALLY BIZARRE TO SAY. Why would you even mention this? Why would you interpret a woman’s grunt in the gym as sexual after you’ve just said that women don’t necessarily appreciate being hit on at the gym?

          I understand you’re describing *trends*, Bret, and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt in that you don’t necessarily think women are hardwired to a lot of this, but your observations range from useful to totally absurd. For instance, the stuff on training tendencies in women, physiological differences, etc. — useful. Even the stuff where you said (for instance) that many women dress well to go to the gym for their own motivational purposes — that’s a good observation. But other stuff is just crazy.

          Signed, a woman who appreciates your blog because you generally cite studies and prove fluency in the literature– and don’t rely anecdotes. Which this list is clearly full of.

          1. CIF

            By the way, I do want to insist that I really appreciate your blog, and say that I rely on your form videos. I’ve gained *a lot* from what you put out there. I didn’t mean for my first comment here to be negative!

          2. Harrison

            are you fucking stupid? He said at the beginning that it was a list of personal anecdotal observations…

      4. Katie

        Actually, contrary to the rather dubious claims your piece makes, some women actually do prefer scientific evidence over anecdotes. You should have used citations.

      5. Anon

        I don’t think you did enough research – if you did, you’d realize that the sounds men make when they grunt at the gym are usually the same as when they have sex. Have you had sex with a man? I suggest trying that and citing it as research because NONE OF THIS IS TRUE OR SCIENTIFIC.

      6. Kara

        And here I thought you said women were more willing to take and use ancedotal evidence over science! So are you secretly a woman or just don’t know what you’re talking about?

      7. Social Pantheist

        One woman saying “This is empowering!” doesn’t negate another woman saying “Wow, this is really inaccurate and demeaning”. Here. Have some comments from other women who also think this is full of drek: http://www.reddit.com/r/xxfitness/comments/190ydx/120_hilarious_fitness_tips_for_women_from_a_swole/

        As to “research”? Your sample size is highly biased and isn’t representative of the population. Additionally, you’re allowing a great deal of personal bias into your observations.

      8. AB

        Man, this list is just incredible! Incredibly misogynistic that is.. WTF Bret?! You represent in the absolute worst possible light (& I’m a fellow male trainer) – the way you just brush off criticism playing dumb, “Oh, I didn’t mean to offend, sorry about that but I worked my ass off for years conjuring this brilliant list”, then proceed to give “examples” of happy clients so everything you say Must be right. In the end, you feel you’re intelligent (going for a Ph.D, w/e) but really you’re just a massively sexist Dbag. Way to go!! It sucks you have supporters on this offending hot mess – yet another shining example of the dumbing down of society. HIGH FIVE!!

        1. tj

          Thank you!
          Bret,If you are going to title an article “120 TIPS …” you probably should add some tips.
          I can’t adequately express how dumb this compilation of observations has made you appear.


    2. Naomi

      I agree with Kari. Your stuff is usually very good but so much of this is based around silly stereotypes or, I’m guessing, specific individual women you have met. Eg, 36 &37 would be laughable if the whole piece wasn’t so patronising overall. Not your best efforts here

      1. Bret

        Naomi, I recently trained five women during a particular session. Each of the five women showed up wearing outfits that featured the color pink. This would never happen with men. I can’t begin to tell you how many female clients I have to remind to not clap with regards to chalk – it’s a serious problem.

        I’m getting a lot of nods and agreements from trainers and coaches, so it seems that they’re seeing similar things. Anyway, sorry you didn’t like it.

        I would hope that you at least found some value in what I wrote, it took me a lot of time and effort.

        1. GirlCanLift

          Hey, you just go and try to buy a whole woman’s fitness outfit that

          1) does not fit/hug like it was underwear
          2) does not have at least a bit of pink

          The farthest one girl can get from pink is usually turquoise. Even in shoes. Or go all black. But then, you have to double check that the pant’s string is not pink :p

          1. Mark

            That’s easy. My wife doesn’t own a single piece of pink clothing. At the gym, she wears a pair of shorts and a t-shirt… just like every guy. Her clothes certainly don’t fit “like it was underwear”. Girls dress they way they do because they choose to.

        2. LTP

          I suspect you are getting a lot of nods and agreements from trainers and coaches simply by way of circle jerking.

          As someone else stated: “so much of this is based around silly stereotypes or, I’m guessing, specific individual women you have met”.

          Some of these are very valid and helpful tips, some of these are not gender specific at all, and much of it is just useless observations that do nothing to improve anyone’s progress wrt to strength training in the gym.

          Overall, it’s always entertaining when men write about women’s issues.

        3. Guy

          So are you saying that your list is based on a study of 5 women. Holy crap, let’s tell the pharmaceutical companies they’ve been doing it wrong for years. Instead of getting a good sampling of data to conduct your rather biased study, you just resorted to lame stereotypes. Let’s see, we could easily add that women like to look pretty. Women like to be seen as healthy and not fat. Listen CPT Caveman, maybe you should just delete this posting before you make yourself sound even dumber than you can. Do you hate women by any chance? Maybe that’s the reason for your ramblings.

        4. JL

          You know what Bret..it sounds like you really don’t enjoy working with the women population..so do yourself and your clients a favor and don’t take on women clients..stick with your bros…as trainers we are here to help, motivate, inspire..sure we get clients that are difficult and frankly some almost unbearable but our job isn’t to make fun of them and ridicule…it’s to educate!!! Shame on YOU!

    3. Rufus

      What does science have to do with “empowering females”? If it’s true, it’s true. Females — and even males! — will always be more “empowered” by facing reality.

      By the way (n=1) my daughter loved this piece.

      1. Harry

        64. Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence

        Are you a woman? Since your anecdote is so important to you…

    4. Mary C

      Kari, I’m interested..why do women need to be ’empowered’ in the weight room? Can’t women go in and lift without needing a virtual cheerleading squad yelling ‘You Go Girl!’ whenever they pick up a barbell? Are we that delicate? I lift and I do it because I like it…I could give a toss about what anyone else thinks because I don’t need my self esteem boosted by outside sources

      It seems like some women think that single article on strength training women has to tell us how fabulous we are, and should be run via committee to avoid any possible suggestion that perhaps SOME of us (shock, horror!) are assholes/whiny/vain/gullible/insecure/lazy…like SOME male trainees? I’ve come from trying to train a woman today who, when i finally held her hand for long enough to enter the weight room spent most of the session claiming that all the guys were staring at her (they weren’t), fussing about her hair, refusing to squat unless her back was facing a wall because her bum was ‘too big’, telling me that weight training will make you bulky because her sister’s Tracey Anderson’s DVD said so (despite telling me that she wanted a body like mine)…I’ll bring her round, I know she feels a bit self conscious and she’s been fed a diet of crap about training via the internet and women’s magazines..but lets not pretend they don’t exist. I have male clients who make me facepalm when they say they don’t want to get too big because they grow muscle really easily (at 75kg and 5’10), come into the gym and spend their time hanging with their bro’s at the squat rack rather than timing their reps, can’t lift anything without a mirror assist, insist on hitting the gym in Dr Dre’s and jeans…am I going to get a deluge of complaints from guys for being sexist when I say they exist?

      I found this article really interesting, recognised some stuff, disagreed with others and I’ll be honest, Bret, I’d have left some stuff out because it adds nothing to the article and you’d have avoided a world of butt hurt..but I’m 43, I’ve been a borderline militant feminist for years, I lift heavy..I’m a big girl

      1. Female lifter in training

        I guess what I’d didn’t care for in this article is the overall feeling like women are sucky newbies. I doubt that was the intention but I did kinda feel embarrassed as I read this. I frequent the gym and see these traits in both men and women who are uneducated beginners. I just didn’t care for it I guess. I don’t need a cheerleader in the gym, but I could do without the annoyed looks from some men when I go to lift in my gym.

      2. Derrick Blanton

        Great post, Mary C. I know that I love having women such as yourself at the gym. People that come to the gym to get something done no matter what type of genitalia they are sporting are inspiring.

        In this sense, age, gender, sexual preference, race, none of that shit matters when we train.

        It’s true that many guys are absolutely annoying in the gym. Does anyone think that men only annoy women? You do realize that we annoy the shit out of each other, right?

        This is one of the reasons that I enjoy training at home. B/c I train to cleanse my soul, not get further annoyed! And when I do go to the gym it’s at 1-AM. Here’s another thing: At 1-AM, the folks in the gym, male or female, are usually there to get some work done.

        Something that I’m a little perplexed about is that the male meathead is a stock character for spoof and ridicule. This goes all the way back to “Hans and Franz” on the old SNL, and continues today to the Planet Fitness spoof of the male bodybuilder meme.

        I got no problem with this, it’s accurate, and it’s hilarious for SOME portion of male trainer. I enjoy a good chuckle at the male meathead “character”. But some of the comments and uproar up in here are so angry, and so out of proportion, they make it sound like BC belittles and hates women, and advocates repealing the 19th amendment!

  3. Jenny

    Great observations, thank you for writing them out. I saw some of my own behavior in your observations, ie: not activating glutes during many glute exercises, and the single leg squat form.
    Some women are bound to be offended, but I’m every inch a woman, and I see nothing wrong with this list. :)

  4. Don'tknowmuch

    These are the most trite and useless things I’ve read in a long time. ‘Women differ anatomically compared to men.’ It took you six months to figure that out???

    I have more to say, but I’m due at the gym. I am late (I’m just a girl, after all) to go clap some chalk from my hands. I’ve seen gymnasts do it before and now I cannot resist the urge…

    1. Bret

      See point #72. I made many comments praising female traits over male traits, but I’m not getting comments from males who took offense to things I said. And I listed specific things with regard to anatomical differences, it didn’t take me 6 months to figure that out.

      1. roadrunnerms

        I did notice that you had equal items stating that women are better at some things than men, and via versa. I didn’t take offense to most of the criticisms of females at the gym, mostly just chuckled. I love the gym and I definitely notice your point about men looking in the mirrors more often. What’s interesting to me is that most people who use the mirrors are checking their form, which is really good! So if you want to admire yourself at the same time, go for it! if you are working hard, you deserve to like the way you look, gender aside. :-)

        Also, I did think some if the female items stating things like “women are less interested in facts and research” were a bit off. I realize these are personal observations though, and honestly, what is the point of getting uppety over some internet post. Sometimes, it is also difficult to relay the intent of a statement when text is the only medium you are communicating in, so I always try to give people the benefit of thr doubt. :-)

        Oh, one more thing. About stating the obvious differences between men and women. These are things everyone knows, but sometimes in certain situations, people forget them. Hidden in plain sight if you will. I think its great that you highlighted the differences in fitness needs between genders, as the workout plans should plan for these differences and a lot don’t. It’s important! I have to agree though that some of the items were kinda silly and didn’t offer any real advice, but still a good entertaining read. And hey, all the feminists will get upset on the web and only spread this list to a wider audience. So there is your silver lining 😉

        1. Chris

          Agree with this comment. I found some things eyebrow raising when it went into the sexual stuff and the “orgasms” but a lot of the points I agree with and have done myself. So interesting and bold blog. Probably should have kept it more generic and shorter.

  5. Robin

    Interesting observations…. list some references to your “research”? I would like to know what level of clientele your working with? A lot of male clients I train can also reflect some of the points on your list…Posterior Chain weakness, lack of CNS efficiency, buying the latest “supplement” to give them a six pack, putting excessive chalk on their hands and all over their body to “look tough” etc…

    Your observations…but are all of them helpful? needed? It would be interesting to have a contrasting list for males…

    1. Bret

      Robin, I checked over many of my observations to see if there was support in the literature, and was pleasantly surprised. Many of the claims above are supported in the research. I know that I could write an entire list for males too, trust me! Many are just observations and aren’t particularly useful, but I’d think that you’d find something valuable within this article.

      1. marylou

        ”Many are just observations and aren’t particularly useful” in that case you should change your title to 120 tips & observations- there is a difference between giving tips = advice to improve , observation= giving your opinion based on what you have seen, opinions are not like facts, they are biased by our moral compass, our culture and how our brain process things-
        Case & point : ”Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research –- anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence.” is this a tip ? no it’s just an anecdotes and I for one do not understand the point you are trying to make. I find it unfortunate that instead of giving valuable tips to women on how to improve their training and staying technical, you decide to add in your ”observation” and generalized ”women” . But I understand that being an effective communicator is not something that ”Men” can generally do :-) (joking!)

  6. GirlCanLift

    As a woman, I don’t necessarily agree with all of these (perhaps going to the other extreme, not being able to generalise enough). But I admit that some of your points made me laugh. Either I could see myself, or it would remind me that you are *not* a woman.

    Case in point: grunts. I read your sentence, and added “to your man’s ears” at the end :)

    1. Bret

      Haha! I’m certain that my male nature misinterprets things or see’s things differently, but the grunting thing is true. I have a couple of female clients who are aware of it…they know they do it and they’re not trying to sound sexual, but that’s the sound that comes out (we poke fun of one in particular). Thanks for not being so harsh on me :)

      1. GirlCanLift

        I know, I do it too, and I’m aware of it, and sometimes have to focus on not doing it (happens with the bench press mostly). But I really meant that some guys’ grunts DO sound sexual… but I guess being a man yourself, you don’t hear it like I do !

  7. Cem

    Thanks for posting. I guess I am atypical of a lot of these generalizations. I love the scientific aspects of training. It helps me know where I am going with it. Keep up the good work Bret!

    1. Bret

      Well of course no woman is going to fit all of these generalizations! And I’m well-aware that there are tons of exceptions to these. Thanks Cem.

      1. Stranger

        Of course no woman is going to fit all 120 opinions that you posted you twit. You state yourself. Why didn’t you condense it to say, 10 points regarding a specific topic with proven data to cite with. Oh wait, did you not learn how to write and use citations properly? I’m guessing that in your endeavors you failed to work your grey matter. Go back and take some English Comp 101 at your local community collage and try again. Also, anatomy and or kinesiology might also be useful to look into. Just because you can lift a refrigerator on your back does not certify you to train others.

        1. Mark

          LOL! Bret is currently a PhD candidate. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Of course, if you’d actually tried to do any research on him before you dismissed his observations as sexist, you would have known this. Perhaps you should run back to whatever feminist site referred you to this article.

        2. JC Deen

          Maybe you should take English comp 101 at your local *college* or take an art class and learn how to make a collage.

  8. Heidi

    My boyfriend who goes to the gym with me is the biggest chatty cathy! 😉

    And… wouldn’t the male sounds sound sexual to us and the woman sounds sound sexual to the men? You would never think that man grunting sounds sexual, because maybe you don’t think of it that way? Anyways… I’m sure since you’re trainer, and if you’re actually thinking about, you might be right I will listen harder next time, hahha.

    And yes, we giggle.

    1. Bret

      I’m chatty too, but when it’s time to do a set, I shut my mouth. Regarding the grunting thing – everybody grunts a bit when pushing it hard. However, with some women it’s different. I think you only really know this if you train a bunch of women. I know men grunt, but they don’t sound like they’re about to get off (not that I’d know what that sounds like haha). Cheers!

      1. Emily

        The men I’ve dated have been lifters, and there is DEFINITELY a relationship between the noises they make in the weight room and the noises they make in the bedroom*. And the faces! I used to joke with friends that if they wanted to see an ex’s “O-face” they should look at him during a squat set. They’re noises and faces of exertion, so it’s natural there would be a relationship.

        *barring the “I just made a PR!” screams, but that applies to most men AND women.

  9. Matt Dragon

    Interesting responses. I now see why you asked if folks would like to see the list. We live in a very sensitive society and it is unfortunate that we can’t get beyond ourselves. I am a trainer, a dad (to girls), a boyfriend and a son. I love physically and mentally strong women as I know you do. I know you as the most helpful trainer I’ve ever come across, I know you as a very genuine person, and I know you have helped many people. Keep up the good work buddy.

    BTW I found this very helpful. I know one of the reasons you noticed many of these things is because you purposefully paid attention. I also know you pay attention because you care. Some of these “silly” things are helpful in being sensitive to a woman’s needs, wants and knowing how to motivate and communicate. Yes ladies these things are helpful. Relax, Bret is a good man.

  10. Ash

    Some of this was interesting, but some it is patronizing and seemingly biased. “Women are more gullible and prone to gimmicks and fads in regards to exercise and fitness.” Really? I have to say, I expect better from you Bret. Your articles are usually so enlightening.

    1. Aizan

      Although I tend to resent ‘sexist’ comments but unfortunately most of what’s been said here is true. Especially for the typical female. The more enlightened ones like you and me are different.

      The best is not to take the tips and comments personally, but use it to educate ourselves and our fellow females on how to be a better version of ourselves.

      1. saretta

        I agree, many of these points seem silly to me now, but if I think back to when I first started weight-training so many of them were true for me. And I see them in other women in the gym.

        Btw, there are lots of things women could wear to the gym that are neither pink, nor tight. I think we should feel free to wear whatever we are most comfortable in, my gym clothes vary widely in color and style (including tight lycra shorts, but very little pink). Doesn’t change how I workout.

        1. noob

          See, he could have written as a view on people getting started in a workout plan versus playing on women’s stereotypes. The post might have been better received if done that way.

        2. Chris

          I wear pink and match my form fitting outfits, nothing wrong with wanting to look nice all the time. I also work very hard too though.

    2. Bret

      Ash, I train women both in person and online, and I get emails from tons of them too. They’ll say to me things like, “I heard on Dr. Oz that I should be doing Pilates for long lean muscles,” etc.

      I can’t believe that you don’t realize that this is true. Not saying that men aren’t prone to gimmicks and fads, but long, lean muscles? Come on now.

      1. Emily

        For what it’s worth, the guys I’ve met are JUST as prone to gimmicks–if they’re NEW. I’m guessing your experience is with women that don’t have a ton of serious weight training experience, whereas most of the men you know have been in the lifting community longer. Believe me, as a female lifter, I’ve had to correct the misconceptions of a lot of not-lifting men on fads and gimmicks. See: guys who don’t want to get “bulky” (“I want to look like Brad Pitt from Fight Club”), guys who think protein shakes = steroids, guys who think women’s uteruses will drop out from deadlifting, the varied voodoo eating and workout routines in men’s magazines guaranteed to give jacked arms and ripped abs, “I run so I don’t need to do legs”, blah blah blah . . .

      2. LF

        I think the “issue” with this list is that you’ve observed things that new/casual PEOPLE tend to do, but ascribe them only to women. The way you’ve framed them also imply that women “naturally” do these things, without being aware, it seems, of the socialization that’s actually to blame. E.g., diet/exercise fads, knowing what broscience to disbelieve. Pick up a couple of fitness magazines that are targeted at women, and you’ll find that brosciencey fads are responsible for a predominant amount of content.

        And the whole “magical fitness secret” thing is absolutely encouraged throughout our society. I mean, just think about the infomercials for stupid-ass gym equipment or the latest diet thing. There’s no “this works because of [science], and also you need to stick with it FOREVER.” It’s all “YOU CAN BECOME AWESOME IN X WEEKS (and then all your problems are over”.

        And this goes back to framing things as “things women do” as opposed to “things people who have never gotten good advice do”.

  11. Louis

    I’ve been waiting for this article! Excellent insights! #1 and #2 under Nutrition and Health Consideration seems a bit paradoxical at first, but it’s definitely true. I see women come in with truly useless “fat loss supplements” all the time; usually just a single product, though. The men, however, usually open up a gym bag filled with expensive pre-workout powders, whey, creatine, amino acids, and everything else you can imagine.

    And thanks for educating me on “coregasms”! This is something I had heard of before but never really did much research on. Just curious, how awkward is it to actually bear witness to a client having one of these?!

      1. Bret

        Oh yeah, forgot to answer your last question. Yes, I have. My very first client kept squirming around and I’d lecture her to stay tight. Finally she confessed to me that she squirmed because she was having orgasms, and that she hated them.

        Many women over the last few years have informed me that they have them too.

  12. Aizan

    This is so insightful of why I gravitate towards certain exercises and why I avoid other kinds of exercises. Thank you!

  13. dancelot

    Been training girls in powerlifting for the last year or so. You’re so spot on, down to the little details like their struggle to load/unload the bar straight!

    Atm I’m working on how to stamp out the chatting during lifts, or the giggling even during 1RM attempts in competition!

    I knew that high pain tolerance thing is a myth 😀

    Love the Programming Design Considerations. I’m going to incorporate those into the upcoming training cycle for my girls.

    1. Bret

      Thanks dancelot!

      I’m seeing a common trend here (mostly on Facebook).

      The trainers and coaches are all nodding in agreement.

      Glad to see I’m not alone in my observations.

  14. angela

    I laughed so much about some of these observations , because I find myself doing some of them … (my trainer will get a kick out of it too), but for alot of it I agree . There were many things that I can learn from and take away from this article, Thank you !!

  15. Fernando

    Hey Kari, Observation is the first step of the Cientific method. Also, he is really technical and not so biased wuth the description, so dont be that suceptible to the negative aspects of being a woman lifter that are described in this article, and use that knowledge to improve yourself.

  16. aussie

    Yeah, so disappointed. Patronizing, stereotypical and much of it sounded like basic judgemental thoughts that guys would have rather than fact. You must know this as your opening line says it all – very broad male-centric observations. Doesn’t sound like you bothered to run your “tips” by any female competitors or gym members?? Nearly every one of these comments has an equivalent judgemental comment re men. Was considering buying your Strong Curves book when it came out, but not now seeing how you view females. Unexpected and disappointing Bret. I too usually like your posts and videos.

    1. Bret

      Actually, aussie, I did run it by some of my female colleagues. They laughed and said they’ve noticed similar things.

      And why don’t you read it again without such jaundiced eyes? I just re-read it and it’s full of great content.

      Please show me a better article on the web for training women? There are none – I searched for ideas and came up empty handed.

      I should have expected some of this reaction, but I’m amazed at how one-sided you’re being here.

      Read the article again – there’s stuff in here that you won’t find on any other blog, in any scientific journal article, or in any magazine article. And there’s plenty of scientific and technical stuff too that isn’t the least bit offensive.

  17. Rachel Guy

    This is hilarious!!!

    Great post! Some people take themselves too seriously. Bret keep doing your thing. not everything has to be backed by science and referenced! it appears that few read the paragraph about this being your ‘observations’!

    I love pink, I love clapping chalk everywhere and I love a booty pump! Oh and 9 times out of 10 my top matches my trainers!

    1. Bret

      Thank you Rachie! I thought I prefaced things in the intro. All these negative reactions irk me. It’s a damn good article, even if some of it’s a bit offensive.

  18. Tim

    “Certain female sexual positions might contribute to women possessing good hip mobility and pelvic control (ex: ones that have the woman in a deep squat position, ones that have the woman in a bridge position, ones that have the woman rocking their hips back and forth, etc.)”

    I think you need to go into more depth here Bret.

    Seriously though, appreciate the time taken for you to create this post. These things don’t write themselves.

  19. Grant Heston

    Wow, there is a lot of butt hurt in these comments. Get over yourselves. These are generalizations. He could have put up a list about stupid crap guys in the gym do just as easily. He primarily works with females, as do I. No one is trying to offend the majority of their clientele, I promise. And lol at asking what level of people he works with, questioning his credentials, etc. Why are you reading his blog? Who do you work with?

    1. Bret

      Right! I don’t think there are many people in the world more qualified to write this article than me, and yet I’m being questioned. I’m amazed at the reaction…but I’m glad that enough folks (like you) appreciate it. Thanks Grant!

      1. Jesse (CPT SMASH) Howland

        Dear Bret,

        I have to back up Grant Heston on this one. You’re spot on many observations within the gym.

        Some of them may be stereotypical, yes, that’s true, but just because they’re stereotypical doesn’t make them completely false. There are always exceptions to every rule. I find your sense of humor in this quite enlightening and well presented for the most part.

        I also must mention that I find it interesting that you noticed the following points, which you don’t really find documented in research (mentioned below). I find that there’s just so much that we don’t know about the body that researchers sometimes miss or we just don’t think to test those areas. So how else are you suppose to figure it out? Your best educated guess and follow up observations.

        1. Women have much better stamina than men in terms of training density at higher intensities – they don’t require as much intra-set rest time as men.

        -Do you think this is due to hormonal differences in training responses, such as increased fat oxidation and hGH; or perhaps the muscle composition themselves?

        3. Women are not initially very competent at executing 1RM’s, and this skill takes more time to develop in women compared to men.

        -I noticed this as well and never had women do 1-RM unless it was sport specific or a program enabler. Do you believe this is a CNS recruitment problem, rate of firing or delay in force production?

        9. Most women think there’s some magic fitness secret out there and therefore try to juggle every fitness methodology under the sun, which results in being mediocre at a variety of things rather than highly skilled in one or just a few areas.

        –I find men do this too, just as bad as women. Program hopping is pretty common place, although I’d love to figure out the solution to this issue.

        The mediocrety may bleed simply from having too much information and not knowing which way to go. Or perhaps just having a good level of GPP is the best solution; unless their is a concrete goal in mind (ie. powerlifting, athletic competitors, bodybuilding, figure comps, etc).

        24. Women require smaller jumps in progressive overload – smaller plates are therefore critical (example 1.25-2.5lbs), as are smaller barbells (and smaller jumps in db’s, kb’s, and bands)

        –Do you think this relates to just overall muscle size and gender differences or actual neural recruitment?

        57. If a woman has a boyfriend/husband who is a coach/trainer, she won’t listen to him no matter what his credentials are (never a prophet in your own land) –ALWAYS TRUE! LOL

        Nice work Bret. I’m sorry everyone is being so hysterical over this.


        Jess (CPT SMASH) Howland

        1. Bret

          Hi Jess,

          Excellent questions!

          1. It’s due to factors related to muscle mass, substrate utilization, muscle morphology, and neuromuscular activation, amongst others. There is a ton of research to sift through in this area and it’s a bit confusing and conflicting at times, but it depends on the task, muscle group, etc.

          2. I think it’s a combination of fear (and subsequent inhibition), intermuscular coordination, and core stability (and muscle performance factors).

          3. Yes, men program hop, but at least they stick to weights. Women system-hop or system-combine, meaning that many will do weights, low-intensity cardio, HIIT, sprinting, plyos, yoga, Pilates, aerobics classes, etc.

          4. It relates to muscle size/strength…going from 15 to 20 lbs is a 33% jump, but going from 50 to 55 lbs is only a 10% jump (so five lb jumps can be difficult).

          Hope that helps!


        2. mp

          “Hysterical” — interesting descriptive choice.

          Bret – just because you say you’re backed up by science doesn’t mean we should believe you.

          1) Men’s grunts are just as sexual.
          2) You appear to be comparing men who are experienced lifters to newbie women.
          3) Gym attire for women that does NOT have any pink in it is hard to come by.
          4) Saying “Sorry you didn’t like it” is not a way of acknowledging that some of your points are very sexist and that you’re getting “nods and encouragement” from other trainers doesn’t make it true.
          5) Please stop referring to women as “females” — it’s insulting and debasing.

          1. Steve

            “5) Please stop referring to women as “females” — it’s insulting and debasing.”

            I agree, it’s incredibly annoying. Whoever started that trend needs to be shot.

          2. NikH

            5) Please stop referring to women as “females” — it’s insulting and debasing.

            What way is it insulting or debasing? You dont like the male part in female? Because you hate men?

          3. Aaron

            Brett’s Article Text only, not counting comments from any parties:
            male, male’s, or males: used 5 times.
            female, female’s, or females: used 6 times.

            Should I be offended as a dude?

  20. jackie

    While reading the above comments, all I could think of was:

    72. Women sometimes twist compliments into insults, and they’re more sensitive to criticism than men

    Hahaha 😀 I’m a woman, a lifter, and a trainer. As a woman, I read the list with the memes of “what ____ thinks i do, etc, what i really do” popping in my head, and chuckled. (although, i tend to wear martial arts garb when lifting…loose-fitting t-shirts i get for free at tournaments are way more comfortable -and free- than spending $40 on a brightly colored body condom that i have to worry about my fat bulges or pulling down my shirt after every set.)

    As a lifter, I am aware of many of these (as people are calling “generalizations,” but they are truths…though not everyone will fit into every truth) in myself, and they’re what I use to correct myself while lifting (because I’m a form nazi…).

    As a trainer, I see the contrast in men and women when training (my own clients as well people working out in general…just walk into a gym, and you can observe these things). Many of these things are easily noticable, and I think it’s ridiculous and hilarious that some of your women readers are being so snipey about this “list.” Training men and women are 2 different things. You haven’t even touched on the post-preggo thing yet, either! Or PMS, or breakups with significant others, or all that other fun stuff! They’re all part of life, they’re all natural, and they happen to a decently sized portion of the population. They don’t all have to happen to *you* to make it true. If people reading this are trainers, they should take note and use it as a “oh hey, I see that in __(insert certain women clients here)__ !” and then try to understand the differences instead of forcing them to train like men.

  21. Connie Ross

    LOVED it!! I think you are great Brett and I think most of what you say is true. You are not criticising either sex, you are just calling it as your experience and research dictates. Some of the general, non anatomical comments obviously don’t apply to all women and I think the readers should understand that. Well done!!!

  22. helen

    “Women like wearing pink workout apparel and take their training attire much more seriously than men (for example they tend to match their shoes with their shorts or shirts, etc.)” wtf?

    Whilst the generalisation and enforcing of stereotypes is annoying they are also irrelevant to the subject which undermines the good points you post.

    1. Bret

      Well then why not focus on the good points then? You can see from the comments that many people appreciated the “irrelevant” stuff.

      And some of the women posting here are saying that they match their tops and shoes…like I said earlier, one day all five of my clients showed up with matching outfits and it was unplanned (and they all had on pink). I guess I shouldn’t notice this stuff???

      1. Chris

        I wear pink and match everything. So what? I like looking nice and not like a sack of potatoes where I go lol.

  23. Amber

    Great points and a fun, at times laugh out loud read. I am a woman and I noticed many of your points in my female clients. A few I noticed more often in a group setting such as bootcamps where it was less prevalent in the one on one training. I saw myself in some of these points when I first started getting interested in fitness, after the birth of my first child ( almost due with my third now). I LOVE the science based and research based and get beyond annoyed at all the get “skinny” now schemes.

    Also, more and more studies are showing that woman with stronger glutes have less chances of urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse, of course the stronger glutes also go along with proper technique Kegals, but most woman don’t know how to do these properly either.

    Loved the article. Thanks

    1. Bret

      Yep! Studies show that many women can’t activate their pelvic floor muscles at all voluntarily, and many who can push out with the muscles rather than drawing inwards with the contractions. This is important stuff for women to know. Cheers.

      1. ggs

        I posted a question about that on an earlier blogpost..asking if the hip thrust would help with PFD which effects males and females. the posting was how do you tell if you have a glute imbalance 1/26/2013. So I will take it as a yes…hip thrusts are golden

    2. Nora

      Probably since I’m a dancer, but it’s weird to me that women don’t know how to do Kegel exercises. It’s very simple to teach. A ballet teacher once explained: “The next time you pee, actively stop the flow. Those are the muscles. Now you know.” Definitely improved my pelvic floor stabilization in rond de jambes.

      Of course, it’s not ladylike to talk about urinating, and Kegels are often associated with asinine articles in Cosmo regarding sex, so it’s probably conditioned in many to seem awkward to talk about in our puritanical society. But not being able to activate the Kegels just goes along with every other instance where people who are not trained to notice small changes in their bodies and have the practice to activate them consciously.

  24. Dawn

    I thought the article was really good and full of great observations. I saw myself in there occasionally – and had a good laugh. I think the key point to take away is that you, as a trainer, referenced things you observed more than once. It’s not a slam on women as they train nor is it showing any male superiority. It’s simply a list of observations that are really interesting, curious, funny, and insightful.

    No offense taken here at all. It’s all about confidence in being a woman no matter how serious or silly I take myself.

  25. sophie williams

    GREAT WORK BRET, as always!!
    Its great to see that even as a trainer, I qualify as a normal female that you observe!!! haha! It is honestly great to know I am normal!!

    To the odd 2 people who were “disappointed” in your work, – how? You said at the beginning of the article Bret that most of them are your observations, and that others may observe differently. Those who observe differently thats fine, but they have no right to judge you like that! Theres no right or wrong, just start thinking for yourself!

    Really enjoy all of your work Bret!

  26. .ViV.

    Loved the article!! Laughed out loud at some points as I could see me in there!! Especially the “Some women seem impossible with their complaints; for example one day they’re worried about getting too bulky and the next day they’re upset that they lost muscle size somewhere” – I switch daily between the two! LOL!!

    Also, having spent my whole life hating pink, I now love it!! And always try to have a little something pink in my training outfits!

    I used to be really bad for the “sex noise” but boys stopped training with me as it put them off, lol, so I’ve managed to moistly reign them in! they still say “I can’t train with you if you’re gonna make noises like that” if one sneaks out!! LOL!! I prefer training with the boys at my gym, they don’t patronize, and seem genuine in their compliments, they don’t say it’s good, unless it’s good. It means I try harder! I also feel safer that they could save me if I got stuck at the bottom of a squat!!

    As for the article being derived form “silly stereotypes” – stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, but not everyone is stereotypical! :-)

    Don’t think you’ve ever written anything bad dude!! Good work!! And not a single one of these observations offended me as a woman, lifter or trainer!! :-)

  27. Faye

    I usually like your work but i think this post should be called 120 of my own observations and not 120 tips for women… from the title i was looking forwards to some good training information, not generalizations about women.

    1. Bret

      Faye, there are tons of great tips for training women on this post. Not trying to be cocky, but do a search and see if you can find any article on the web with a fraction of the tips you see here. So please just focus on what you liked rather than take offense over generalizations. Sorry you didn’t like it.

      1. LTP

        Still reading through all the comments but I am stunned at how defensive and offended YOU are being with regards to *any* negative comment. You are an accomplished writer, surely you should know by now that not everyone will like everything you write? It just seems very amateur.

        I normally like much of what you write, this one…meh. There’s good and there’s “what’s the point”. The fact I didn’t really like this article too much has exactly zero impact on whether I read or share your future articles.Your defensive comments and handling of your criticisms however, probably will.

  28. Vince

    Hello Bret,

    I have enjoyed reading your articles for a long time. You make it easier for the lay person to understand correct exercise form.

    Regarding EZ bars for hip thrusts, is there a particular brand/model that you recommend?

    I look forward to your response. Keep up the excellent work.

    All the best,

  29. Claire

    Some women on this thread really need to take a chill pill and stop trying to find offence and sexism where none is intended…I don’t see myself in many of these comments but I train with enough women to recognise many of the observations as true in a lot of cases . Assuming that every woman who lifts is exactly like you is far more offensive.. ‘Women tend to’ and ‘Many women’ doesn’t equal ALL women just as an article that pointed out that men ‘are more likely to hang with their bro’s around the squat rack taking 10 minutes between sets’ will not apply to ‘most’ men. Stop displaying your own insecurities and embrace the differences!

    1. Bret

      Thank you Claire. I appreciate the support. I thought I covered myself with those comments, but apparently not. Cheers! (and this bro tends to hang around the squat rack taking ten minutes in between sets haha!).

  30. Kevin


    Great post, you certainly stirred the pot. All the reaction shows how many people you are truly reaching. I loved # 57 under Anatomical, Physiological, Psychological, and Random Considerations. I’m a recovering PT, OCS and utilize much of the fitness industry’s work……my wife wont listen to a thing I say. Had some time with Prof McGill lately, had a nice coversation that included your work.

  31. Mike


    As a trainer and a husband can you recommend a way to help my wife. I usually try, but with all good intention it this realm, they seldom succeed. She will ask me to train her, but it just doesn’t work.

  32. Vicki

    I am surprised, but should not be, at all the hyper sensitivity and offense taken by this article. Our society is so “PC” now days one can not express an opinion, observation, or make a comment without first passing it through the “PC Filter.” So many “rules” one can not say anything without offending someone. What Bret sees and observes is what he sees and observes. I liked it, fun and educational, and was going to post a link to it on a forum I participate on but I don’t know now. But that would mean the “PC Police” win. What happened to free expression and a discussion of ideas in a supportive environment which expands our knowledge?

    All those who are so critical please write up your lists. Produce and create work, then post it on the internet and defend it. It’s real easy to tear someone else down. Constructive criticism and new ideas that help further our goal help, and humor is fun, but put downs accomplish nothing and poison the air.

    Say you disagree with a point if you must and if you do, then explain why and what your observations are over how much time, with how many people, what age and group type, etc. To trash the article because you don’t wear pink, don’t match your gym clothes, don’t chat, etc. only shows you take offense easily. The article is not about YOU.

  33. Cait

    Definitely agree with some more than others–I know I had serious posterior chain weakness and lacked glute activation when I started training. I think somebody else already pointed out how annoying it is to try and buy clothes that aren’t pink and/or skintight for workouts, which makes me grateful that I’ve got about 8 years worth of free soccer tournament t-shirts to draw from. I was surprised that grip strength didn’t come up as a factor in this, though, as I know myself and a lot of my “lady lifter” friends have the trunk/leg/arm strength to lift heavier on olympic-style lifts but lack the grip strength without using gloves or straps.

    I think one of the biggest reasons women are “intimidated” by the free weights section is not necessarily one singular reason, but a combination of things: lack of familiarity, not having a lifting partner, often being the only female, and the oh-so-enjoyable comments from guys in the area (which are actually helpful about 5% of the time. non-scientifically speaking). When working with female clients, I’ve found that many seem to be more than comfortable working in the free weight area on their own after a few sessions with someone who familiarizes them with the equipment, teaches proper form so they look like they know what they’re doing, and helps them feel confident enough about their technique and abilities that comments from the peanut gallery no longer have an impact.

    On a related note to that last point, I did like that you used “many” or “most” or “some” for a lot of these conclusions, recognizing that not every woman fits every single point. Overall, pretty well written (but of course, being a physical therapy student and a trainer, I’d love it if you could post some of the sources you used–not that I’m doubting you have sources, I’m just always interested in practicing evidence-based care myself).

  34. Tammy E.

    I’m sorry that your article is getting picked apart, however I am not surprised by it…girls will be girls after all. I don’t train with other women because I haven’t found one that I can tolerate for that long…they always have too many excuses, complaints, lack focus, etc. It’s more efficient and I’m actually happier when I’m on my own. Many girls do match their outfits and their shoes on purpose I might add. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to go that far although I do like to feel cute while working out–but don’t hit on me! I am there for a purpose fellas!!!! Btw, the gloves are a must. I may have muscles but I would like to still feel feminine. Keep up the good work Brett! Love your sense of humor mixed in w/ all of the research-y stuff.

  35. Alix

    I enjoyed this in the spirit I think it was intended, and believe me, I followed a link from a GREAT female training site (plug for stumptuous), that I trust not to send me somewhere full of fluff. I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not surprised by the responses, though. Women, in my experience, are easily offended and hold a grudge more than long enough to type a snarky response ;). How’s that for a generalization? On the point re training gear, I’ve observed in years of training and instructing at gyms that women seem to be more easily motivated by new gear than men. I think this contributes to the “matchiness” you’re referring to.

    1. Bret

      Yep! I get a kick out of the matchiness and didn’t intend for it to offend anyone. I’ve even had female clients color-coordinate with each other.

  36. Iris Collado

    Great article! I just love it.I agree with #46 my arms tend to get bulky for lifting heavy weights. #61 describes the way I feel sometimes at the gym. #63 means for me “Leave Me Alone”. I am very anti-social when I am working out because I feel this is my time and I am not goint to waste it.

    1. Bret

      I’ve seen many women wear visors and earpieces connected to iPods (and they avoid eye-contact like the plague) just so nobody tries to approach them!

  37. Barbara

    Thanks for your fascinating observations, Bret, I really enjoyed them and I enjoy your entire website too. As an outside observer and trainer you are able to see things more objectively than I can as an individual participant. I love knowing some of the ways I may be programmed to succeed as well as struggle. Don’t let the critics deter you from sharing more of your helpful insights – they are super appreciated! Cheers!

  38. Jeffrey Taveras

    awesome post Bret! refreshing to see information solely backed by the literature and observations and no guru b.s, keep it coming sir!

    p.s. it was a pleasure having you speak to my class last week! (I’m brads student who asked you about Charles lol)

  39. Cathrine

    I couldn’t agree more with the other girls above, when it comes to telling all the offended girls above to “chill”.

    I´m a girl at 32, a personal trainer (living in winter-wonderland, also known as Norway, across the sea), and i have lifted weights since I was 17 years old. I´m very feminine, love wearing stilettos, and I look pretty “normal” with my jeans and shirts on. No bulky muscles, and I get mostly positive comments on my physique. And have learned from experience that the not so positive comments, comes from jealousy. Girls/women can be SO mean to each other.

    I have mostly women as my clients, because I love teaching and motivate girls to lift heavy weights, to shape their body. (Yes, they love the word “to shape” instead of “to build” a body.) Many, or maybe all of them, used to run their asses off on the treadmill before they came to their senses and listened to good advices, and all of them has achieved amazing results, only by doing heavy lifting, (and eating proper, good and ENOUGH food) three times a week.

    And, I know and is not embarrassed to say, that I love wearing pink clothes at the gym, and YES I match my shoes – I simply love pink, ever since I was 2 years old. I also make some seriously “sex-related” sounds when I do 1 or 2 RM´s. I can’t help it, and my boyfriends laughs at me every time we train together.

    Most important, I laughed so much when reading the article, that the people around me (I´m sitting in a public café), starred and looked at me.

    And, you can add: “mainstream” girls are extremely offended when they read this type of articles. Every. Single. Time.

    Thumbs up! :-)

    Greetings from Norway

  40. shelley

    I think you were brave to print this bc as you predicted some women took offense. It’s too bad bc men and women are different and thats a good thing. Some things may seem stereotypical but if you didnt see these traits over and over in your female clients I dont think they would have made such an impression on you. From reading your blog I do not think your comments are meant to degrade women whatsoever. I laughed out loud several times. Thanks!

    1. Bret

      They certainly were not which is why I’m so annoyed. But I shouldn’t be…I sort of predicted it (but the response on last blog was so overwhelming that I let it override my instincts haha). Thank God men and women are different…it’s why we’re attracted to each other. Most men wouldn’t want an ultra-masculine spouse, nor would most women want an ultra-feminine spouse (most…not all). I love many peculiarities about women and as well as the peculiarities about my guy friends too…variety is the spice of life. But generalizations exist for a reason.

  41. Gen

    Pretty interesting read! I didn’t find myself offended at anything when reading it. I think the observation that women talk more than men when attempting maximal lifts circles back around to the observation you made that women don’t lift as heavy as they think or should be lifting (I am too lazy to dig up the number but it was the one where you said women should add 10lbs to their lifts…). Makes sense. I also train 5 women who have come from a pure cardio background (or no workouts at all) and it’s extremely hard for them to activate their glutes properly. We’ll be working some pull-throughs soon :D…. Also #57 is 110% true for the opposite as well. I can tell my husband something 10 times and he won’t listen to me but one of his guy friends says it once and it’s the best thing in the world! I’ve given up on getting him to listen to me and instead will discuss with his guy friend first and let him tell my husband what’s what.

  42. Tuesday

    Hi Bret,

    I get why some people commenting are offended….I thought the list read more as a list of tips for male trainers who are working with women, so I found the title to be maybe a bit misleading for those of us who are not in that demographic. I pressed on and read through it all, nevertheless, because I found it laugh out loud funny in a lot places, TRUE (even in those parts that were complained about), and certain points you made are super helpful. There is definitely some great info sandwiched in between the funnier “tips”, and stuff that I can use to progress and improve my own training. For the record, I don’t wear pink, don’t worry about matching, don’t talk, etc. I also don’t feel like the whole world needs to worship at the altar of Feminism and PC attitudes. I can allow for different people to have different world views, so long as they aren’t oppressing me somehow. I don’t feel you’re a misogynist or a guy who is threatened by women, or even a guy who wants to discourage us in some sort of passive aggressive subtle way.

    From what I’ve seen in the admittedly short while I’ve been aware of you, Bret, is that you’re very supportive and encouraging of women strength training. I remember you championing the Girls Gone Strong, for instance, which is a fantastic group of women that I’m grateful to have around. I could be mistaken, but I kinda think you may have even been the guy who introduced them and got them all talking. That would make you a conduit for a very positive, feminist, group if I’m right.

    I know you probably won’t say all this stuff yourself, but I think some of your readers should point this out. You definitely encourage women, and I don’t think it’s for selfish or self-serving reasons.

    For the complainers–this article had a lot of silly stuff in it, but so what! Put the useful stuff to use and leave the rest behind. If you found it terribly harmful, say why instead of just objecting.

    1. Bret

      Thank you very much Tuesday. First off, that’s what I was originally going for – observations for my male colleagues (trainers, coaches, etc.), and I wanted to mix in a bunch of science, observation, and humor. But I suppose the title could have been better, and the delivery (but that’s not my strong point which is why I asked Kellie Davis to help me with Strong Curves).

      And you’re absolutely right. I’ve always tried to help the women in our field. I introduced the GGS, I’ve posted many blogs featuring women in our field, and I love Kellie and Marianne in particular and will always try to help them (they’re dear friends).

      I also make sure to give advice to the female newcomers in our field who I see have potential.

      I think the majority of people like this article very much, but a certain percentage of women view this as stereotyping and condescending.

      Thanks again!

      1. Nora

        It appears (at first glance) you’re only replying/commenting to thank people for support, but I just want to urge you–I am not familiar with your body of work, but I do believe that you genuinely want to help women and encourage strength training for women. I just implore you to look at the criticisms and comments and just try and understand that the language you use is alienating to many women. Even the women who are commenting with the responses of “I love pink-*but* I’m not one of the women that does X or Y” are in fact saying to you that as experienced professionals, they actually aren’t doing these little things you’ve observed. I assume that as a writer and a professional that you’re looking to broaden your base-an article like this isn’t going to “offend” a woman who knows she isn’t making some of these mistakes. But if a woman might be interested in your work and interest and this her entry point, she is likely going to have a less-than-positive reaction. I’m not attacking you, and I wish you would just take a moment and examine the common themes from the criticisms and I hope that it will further your goals and help you reach the people you want to reach. I am not picking any sides in this faux-argument, the women who chose to comment that this is “sexist and degrading” are not explaining themselves and therefore not adding to the discourse. In conclusion, your article seems very much pointed towards women beginners. One might consider you more of a beginner when it comes to feminist discourse and gender theory. You seem to have great science on the physiological considerations when training men and women, but I ask that you consider the manner in which you present it. And that doesn’t mean stop using your voice and being humorous! I wish you all the best and hope that even though the response has been overwhelming, that everyone in the conversation can learn something.

        1. Jen Sinkler

          You know I love ya, but this comment from Nora is really, really important. Being as sensitive to criticism as you are, I suspect you *are* (at least in private) evaluating the role your choice of language led to this backlash, but that is not coming through in your replies here.

          And I wish it would — you’re a strong, valuable proponent of women and strength, and the negative feedback here can help shape how you offer up information in the future, if you’re open to it (the heteronormative spin and “most women” business has gotta go, or at least be qualified to the max). Tips 2, 3 and 4 from “ceolof” are also worth your time — much of what happened here is due to problems with the way you framed the article, and you still have a chance to fix it.

          I’m rooting for you — I appreciate the information you provide in the industry, and with some improvements to its presentation, I think you can help ensure it’s received in the spirit it was intended.

          Good “butties” for life!

      2. Gates

        Well, unfortunately the overall tone and writing style of this article shouted “teenage hormonal caveman” to me, despite it including some interesting insights.

        For example, instead of saying ‘women this, women that. Etc.’ it would have come across more reasonably if you had said something like, “among the women I’ve trained, most of whom are new to glute work, or heavy lifting, or using weights, etc, ive noticed……”

        Just by saying “women” as if you are talking about every woman In the world it comes across very “me Tarzan, you Jane”.

        That being said, I’ve learned a lot from your site and appreciate your usually instructive posts.

  43. Kellie

    One of the largest mistakes we see with personal trainers and coaches is the one size fits all approach. Perhaps we do not see this as much in athletic and powerlifting facilities, but in the general gym environment, this appears time and time again. Trainers trying to fit every client into a mold. Anyone who has worked in or trained in a commercial gym sees this more often than not. It’s the keen observers who can recognize, study, and explore the finite details of individual clients, and who can then compile notes and find similar traits amongst a population– he/she is the one who helps make the training experience that much better for both the coach and the client.

    To recognize these traits is to better understand and identify with with the very people who trust you to help them reach their goals. And what makes a coach even better is to have this comradary with colleagues, one where he/she can call upon other coaches to discuss these observations, not to judge or stereotype, but to improve upon programs, client/coach relationships, and and overall coaching skills.

    No, these traits are no applicable to all women. Some are very general (some trivial), but this attention to detail is admirable and I bet not a single female client who has worked with Bret has ever felt that he was anything short of compassionate.

    We have all learned a great deal from Bret over the years. None of you would be reading this post if you hadn’t. I know that I have learned a tremendous amount from his as both a female lifter and a coach. I know that I can call upon him for advice when working with particular clients and he will take the time to address my concerns. He does this for many, many colleagues, readers, and fans.

    Through any absurdity that you may find in this as a women lie many truths. We have to learn to appreciate ourselves as a growing population in a field that not long ago didn’t accept our presence. At my age, my mother would have never imagined lifting weights. At my age, my grandmother could not have stepped into gym facility.

    It’s an honor to know that there is finally a space for women in the strength world. One where we don’t have to be afraid to grunt, grow muscle, and get incredible strong. But we also must respect that a very small fraction of our population is doing this. We have to admit that a very large fraction of the female population is still buying into ‘female fitness and diet fads’. We must also admit that at one time or another many (if not most) of the women who are pulling heavy weights and making incredible feats in fitness bought into the same hype and felt lost in the fitness world. I know I did.

    And it’s coaches like Bret (and many others) who continually invite us into the strength training world on our terms, creating a space for us to grow into the strength community while carving out our own piece of it.

    If you don’t respect anything he wrote in this post, I hope that you can respect that.

    1. B-Grrrrl

      If I wasn’t sitting at my desk in a deathly quiet office I would stand up and give this an air punch and a loud cry of “WOOP!”

      Beautifully written Kellie =)

  44. Julie

    That was a fun article. Some of it made me roll my eyes but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something you see regularly like matching outfits.

    I certainly recognized myself in the fear and intimidation of free weights. It took me a year of working on ellipticals and using small machines while watching the men/boys in the free weights before I got my courage up to venture into a rack. Now, years later, I still compete in powerlifting.

    What struck me most about the difference between the men and women was that the men seemed very natural in the free-weight area. I always thought they knew exactly what they were doing because their level of confidence seemed to indicate that they did. Once I learned what I was doing, I realized many of them didn’t :) That still doesn’t stop them from giving advice and counseling that deep squats will hurt my knees. Most women are far more tentative.

    I can also do hip thrusts like a boss. Now I know why. They should add it to meets.

    1. Bret

      Exactly! Many of my female clients are still intimidated of the weight room when they go to gyms – and they have WAY better form than most of the guys do. They squat deep, and they can outdeadlift many guys too. So guys “think” they know what they’re doing in the gym, but it’s not always the case.

  45. Dawn

    I found many of your observations interesting, and I liked how you qualified them in the first paragraph as observations that do not apply to everyone. Obviously some of them are more related to new trainees vs. experienced women, and some are true of both. But I have an issue with your post title. To call them 120 Tips is misleading since they are mainly observations, and many are just comparing men to women. If your aim is more to give trainers tips on training women, then it should be called 120 Tips for Training Women, not 120 Tips on Strength Training for Women. Coming on someone who does her own programming, just my $0.02.

  46. Sheyna

    Thanks for the post! So interesting. Number 11 in programming design considerations was very relatable! I love being able to do a couple of pull ups, maybe for men who have probably always been able to do them it seems silly but you hear your whole life how weak women are and women can’t do pull ups and all this. It’s really empowering to be able to bust out a few. :)

    Do you have guidelines on what you consider adequate rest between sets? (Giant circuits kind of resonated with me as well!) I tend to rest for 1 minute or maybe 1.5 -2 mins on lower rep sets

    1. Bret

      Yes, 2-3 minutes for the heaviest sets of the biggest exercises (squats, deadlifts), 1-2 minutes for most sets (and between paired supersets), and 1 minute in between smaller exercises. Seldomly I have clients do just 30 sec rest in between bodyweight hip thrusts for high reps to get a pump, but this is the exception, not the norm. And if going for a PR, sometimes 3-5 minutes for a deadlift.

  47. B-Grrrrl

    Hi Bret

    I thought your disclaimer at the beginning of this was a little OTT, but then I read some of the PC brigades comments and realised you should have maybe put it in bold italic capitals =)

    I really enjoyed this but the one point I took offence to is the pink attire. It really should say turquoise ha!

    Helen x

  48. Hilary

    Love the list, awesome work! Lots to be considered in my own training and when I work with teenage girls! I may love my calluses and refuse to wear pink but I still appreciate the points and why women wear gloves/pink workout gear. Whatever helps get women lifting heavy weight and feeling good :)

  49. Vicki

    After showing this to my husband, he said you should add a line from “The Big Bang Theory,” “Them bitches, they be crazy.”

      1. AB

        The backlash may be also due to the fact that some of your “observations” do not add anything to improving training for women. OK, so your clients match their wardrobes or wear a particular color a lot – why is that an important observation? Are you saying they shouldn’t do it? If they do, it bothers you somehow? Perhaps it would help if after each observation you would state how after noticing a particular trend with women, you used it to improve their training and performance.

  50. Suz

    Love the article, Bret. I am one female that is incredibly frustrated with my glutes not turning on! My husband tells me to keep doing it and eventually it will ‘click’. Thanks for taking the time to write the article.

    1. Bret

      Suz, it will click. Takes time to build up the neuromuscular connections and coordination. I have a client right now who simply added bodyweight hip thrusts (feet elevated) to her arsenal for 2 months while powerlifting and she now feels her glutes with everything (snowboarding, squats, etc.). Focus on the feel and it will come.

    1. Bret

      You would know it already if you are prone to having them, so you’re safe. Usually happens with things that activate the lower abdominal musculature, but I’ve had women experience this with back extensions due to the friction (which I guess isn’t a coregasm…it’s a legitimate orgasm).

  51. Maria

    Maybe it’s because I’m 50, but I really didn’t see anything offensive. Such a long debate about pink – women can find workout clothes without pink – REALLY. Yes, it’s true it’s much harder for women to build their upper body strength – especially push ups. It’s really about teaching them how to coordinate and strengthen their backs more than the actual push-up. In general, if there’s a trainer in the house, the spouse & the kids look for advice elsewhere. My husband would say to our sons when they would look for a “workout answer”, “go ask your mother, why do you think people pay her lots of money to train them?” Now they have finally come to me for advice. I would disagree that women have more T-Spine rotation. The reason is I believe that women carry so much stress on their shoulders (carry the weight of the world/their families) on their shoulders, that their shoulder girdle is stuck. Watch most of them breathe and they breathe in their shoulders. Also, add this tightness and pre-menapause/menopause and you will find that a lot of women don’t sleep as well as men. They often complain of tingling in their arms that wake them up or hot flashes or anxiety. So therefore, their training suffers as does their self-esteem.

    I think you made some frank observations. Thanks Bret

  52. Kristi

    the observations may be valid, but have you ever considered an editor? a female one perhaps? the tone of this article is so patronizing.


    1. Bret

      Well, I think that a woman would try to be understanding – I’m just a guy and I tried to be as honest as possible, and I tried to minimize the offensiveness. So my delivery isn’t the best, but the info is good.

  53. KooFrog

    As a trainer AND a trainee, ( I work out with a Big Boy) I have to say that this article was spot on. I see myself currently in several of these scenarios, I saw myself as I was in the past in several of these scenarios. And I am not offended in the least. The gym can be a mysterious and scary place for a newbie woman lifter. So, some of the behaviors that others criticized you for posting DO EXIST in the gym. As trainers, we have to meet people where they are, acknowledge them and train them to think differently. A one size fits all philosophy does not apply here. Whatever is is, and whatever works works. Peace!!

  54. Rosa

    I’ve been looking forward to your article all week. Thank you for your opinions and observations. Some of these were tips, some of these were straight up hilarious stereotypes and yes some of these were offensive.

    I appreciate your attention to detail and scientific accuracy but some of your points bothered me. I always feel like I have to put on my boy mask when I go the gym for fear of “causing drama,” drawing attention to myself or being feminine in any way shape or form.

    Women are conditioned since babies to express frustration or struggle through smiling and giggling and talking. And whenever we express to vocal a view point because it’d be seen as an inability to take criticism.

    Nevertheless you are so right of being unable to activate glutes. I’ve inducted myself into the National Fraternity of the Gluteal Order. These past three months I’ve studied and absorbed everything I can with monk like dedication!

    And to the people using the responses to this article as proof positive of a woman’s inability to take criticism do realize that just as Bret is entitled to his view point so are his readers.

    1. Bret

      I sort of get a kick out of the drama thing…and my intention wasn’t to say that men are better than women or vice versa, just to point out some general differences. Thanks though, appreciate the feedback!

      1. Rosa

        I absolutely love that you pointed out the differences. And hey with the ensuing drama generated with this article maybe more people will actually read your smart and well researched advice!

        I actually would really like to read the men’s version of this post. Cause there is some shit men do in the gym that is hilarious.

        Thanks for responding. Please continue being awesome.

  55. Manasee

    I am a girl. I lift heavy. I workout at Gold’s where you see one woman in the free weights section most of the time (that’s me) and some on and off. I love strength training. I loved your observations. They are so bang -on right. I don’t find anything wrong or sexist about any of the 120 observations. It was insightful and now I’ll observe some of the points closely. Although I never match my outfit, I can swear women do. And yes, I boasted around and jumped up and down when I could do my first push-up. Oh what a feeling it was. I haven’t been able to do the pull-up yet. Don’t think I can ever. And oh yes, I grunt too, and I know many men out there crack jokes about it. Baaah – I don’t really care. And yes, I definitely chat in the gym.
    Great article. I loved reading it.

  56. Marion

    As a female, I loved this article. I think you are correct about quite a few of these tips. Women are crazy creatures. I can’t believe some women are insulted by this article. I think you are spot on. One thing I love about guys, they can just say what they want to their friends good or bad, and the friend is ok with it. You say something bad or insulting to a female and they hate you for life.

    I love working out with men in the weight room. They treat me just like one of the guys. I love it.

    1. Bret

      Yep, I just hope that the women who were offended here can look past it and still give me the benefit of the doubt. And men are crazy creatures too! Thanks Marion.

  57. marc

    hi bret.
    great article. you are on the money. I hope that a lot of trainer and female athletes
    will be reading this article. keep well.
    Ciao, Marc

  58. Tamoto

    Sigh. All these points are true. I see it so often in the women I train, I used to do some of them too. I think girls/women are babied and at the same time told they can’t or shouldn’t do things like grunt and focus and be disciplined in the strength arena. Women love the memes that brag about being unreasonable and sassy, but those “qualities” don’t get you anywhere with a barbell. So in the gym they feel awkward, they giggle and do/say things to undermine themselves. I hate that.
    Even the most wimpy man knows its his birthright to get stronger. I sometimes tell my female clients to observe how the guys lift and follow suit. Fake it till you become it. And don’t baby your daughters and wives, don’t encourage them to act like princesses.
    Not saying men are better than women, and I don’t think Brett is either. Just calling it like it is.

    1. Bret

      I don’t even hate the giggling, etc. I usually get a kick out of it. And I don’t even think that every woman looks their best through years of intense focus on total-body progressive overload (some, but not all). I even like that some act like princesses as long as they listen to me and push it hard. I just try to listen to them and give them solutions to their problems and give them strategies for their goals.

  59. Luca

    See No 57. If a woman has a boyfriend/husband who is a coach/trainer, she won’t listen to him no matter what his credentials are (never a prophet in your own land) .

    You are right !!! Any explanation ?

    1. Bret

      Yes, it’s because they live with you, they watch you struggle with certain things, they realize that you don’t know everything, they see your shortcomings, etc. So you couldn’t possibly be the expert haha – there’s gotta be someone else out there who knows the answer, not you. At least that’s my take on this topic.

  60. LJ

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article–it is your view and you prefaced it by basically one size does not fit all…people need to relax! I match my shoes to my outfit, own a lot of pink cuz yes, there’s just a lotta pink out there and I only grunt when I deadlift 😉

  61. blaise

    I’m not a trainer, just a soon-to-be-48y.o. female trying to be strong and fit. I found the list to be amusing, entertaining, enlightening, and found several things that describe me (i.e. Program Design Consideration #9, trying a little of everything and not sticking with one thing long enough). I tend to use male trainers and it is interesting to know what they may be thinking. Loved the list and will share it with my Trainer friends, both male and female.

  62. Maurizio Paolini

    VERY interesting points….I especially liked number 6 of exercise considerations about difficulty at activating glutes with straight legs positions, personally I have problems at coaching some women doing plank without lordosis…..maybe its the different angle of the pelvis that needs more of a stretched IT band via knee flexion to properly activate the glutes?…..What do you think?…

    1. Bret

      I definitely think it has to do with pelvic control. I’m a huge fan of RKC planks and sometimes I start women off from the knees so they can learn it properly. I don’t think it has to do with pelvic structural differences though as hip extension ROM is similar between men and women. Good thought though…and of course I could be wrong.

  63. levi

    Fantastic piece. If people cannot see that, then they probably woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    My one critique: I feel it should have been named “120 Tips on Strength Training for The Feminine Essence” instead.

    Many feminine men will need these “tips” but not so many masculine females. Just a thought. :)

    1. Derrick Blanton

      This is a good, honest implicit question, and I will try to address it.

      Along the spectrum of physical fitness, there are many overlapping variables that can be trained and adapted: limit strength, explosive strength, strength endurance, endurance, flexibility, mobility, steady state cardiovascular fitness, high intensity cardiovascular fitness, work capacity, etc.

      People enjoy having a sense of mastery, and tend to focus on a variable that they are good at, and prioritize that variable. So for example, if early on, you discover that you can pick up heavier stuff than your peers, you start to accentuate that variable with training focus. If you find that you can do more push ups than your peers, you may start enhancing that variable. If you can run for longer distances, you go there, etc.

      Women are generally more flexible than men. This may be why you find women outnumbering men in yoga classes. Men are generally stronger than women, and outnumber women in powerlifting.

      Flexibility and mobility are good necessary qualities. So is strength. These two variables are movement partners. Strength expressed through a large range of motion is the best of both worlds.

      Focusing on mobility without a symmetrical focus on strength is folly from a functional, living and moving standpoint. Excessive range of motion that cannot be muscularly controlled can be risky for the joint as it will find itself hanging by tendon, ligament, or muscle capsule (soft tissue.)

      So as with all matters, it’s finding a balance.

      The flip side of this is many men could probably stand to focus more attention on mobility, and joint range of motion which will ultimately enhance their expression of strength.

      Make sense?

      1. Derrick Blanton

        I should mention that the NY Times recently ran an article on how yoga is more dangerous for men than women, b/c men get competitive about trying to achieve the stretches, and end up using their strength of the antagonistic muscle to force ROM on a joint that is not ready for it.


    2. Bret

      Riss, do not mistake my words. Mobility is NOT overvalued. But strength training has been shown in several studies now to be equal to or better than stretching for gains in ROM. Moreover it does so through different mechanisms which leave the exercises with more functional capacity compared to ROM gains through stretching. I am all for stretching when ROM is limited, but many times ROM is not limited – it’s just right. And in that case, proper strength training maintains it. Many women who love stretching don’t really need to stretch and they could keep their flexibility through strength training (so the stretching is actually a waste of time).

  64. Margaret

    Thanks for making me feel more like a man! 😉

    Nothing feels better than trying to lift some heavy sh&t…adding plates to make pullups harder…getting muscles to be proud of…eating meat and eggs. I hate cardio and core work……love watching myself workout…..know all the exercises I do and what muscle group it targets and then some…..i dress for comfort not sexiness…..enjoy my rest periods between exercises…..worry more about getting stronger than looking good…..don’t buy into spot reduction and fad diet…….you don’t dare talk to me during my workout (lol)…….and so on. 😉

    Yes, I AM a woman but this just proves I am not a typical woman! haha!

    1. Bret

      You’re damn right you’re not a typical woman :) Well, experienced female exercisers might indeed be like you, but they definitely don’t start out that way. Kudos.

    2. Chelsea

      You may not be a “typical” woman (whatever that means) but you sure are a typical holier-than-thou woman hater. Which in my opinion is about 745x worse than any “typical” giggling, pink-wearing, chalk-clapping female. Get over yourself.

  65. Ted

    “Women prefer to hear feminine terms such as “firm,” toned,” “tight,” “lean,” “long,” “sculpted” and “sexy,” rather than masculine terms such as “jacked,” “yoked,” “swole,” “huge,” “ripped,” “shredded,” or “muscular,” and even the word “hypertrophy” can scare them off”

    @Everybody: Watch this vid now! :-)

  66. Bobbi

    Hi Bret,

    I think why many people are complaining is the tone of the article. Making generalizations about a group, whether they are true of most of that group or not, is the definition of an ‘ism’. Try it with a race instead of a gender to see why this is offensive, because making sexist comments is more widespread and more people are densensitized to it.

    Personally, reading the comments here and those with re-posts of the article, it seems like the people who are offended are not familiar with you, and the people who know you seem to like it. (Stumptuous liked it! Yay!) So you deserve the benefit of the doubt – probably you didn’t mean to be so offensive.

    As a female lifter, I certainly could relate to some of the items but I didn’t feel like I learned much because the opinions were very mixed with the facts. Yes, you said that opinions would be in the article, but I think the mix made it harder to read.

    I think if you wanted to make this type of information more accessible and give it better legs through the social media-verse, maybe you could split it into two. I would love to read an article with more elaboration on the scientific points and practical tips. And I think if I read an article with all your observations together, I would’ve felt comfortable laughing – it would be a great piece for people to identify with and share.

    Then you could confirm whether you have really written the article with the most real tips – when you break the actual tips out of the article rather than saying there are 120.


    1. smith

      This is a very well written and reasoned comment. I hope that Bret eventually responds to you, but I won’t hold my breath. I think he’s too accustomed to getting adulation as is evidenced by this thread. Bret claims to be an academic yet he ignores or is offended by negative feedback. Strange, considering most academics relish negative feedback as it gives them a chance to better hone their arguments. I think he needs to do a few more reps academically before throwing those credentials around again.

  67. Amanda

    Great article and very funny. I have been weight training for 10 years, am not scared of heavy weights or getting bulky (I wish it was that easy haha) but still recognize many of these in myself.

    Anyone saying anything negative is just insecure and/or grumpy lol.

    1. Bret

      Grumpy – hahaha! I just think a certain percentage of women are more easily offended than others. The backlash from this article couldn’t possibly have anything to do with me (just kidding – I take some responsibility but not all). Thanks Amanda.

  68. ggs

    I was not at all disappointed in the article. I saw myself in many of your observations I am now aware of some more things I need to work on. I think this is a list of observations compiled over many training sessions and visits to many gyms in many different parts of the world. The average person only has the time they go to work out to make comparisons and who has that luxury of extra time to check out and compare..not me I am there to bust my arse and get out… . You cannot please everyone…. but it did please me. Keep up the good work..
    Not offended but definitely enlightened
    Oh yeah thanks for number 9 I knew my workouts were missing something so I will get right on that….

  69. Paz

    Just read your article. My main thought while reading, is that I need you as my trainer! Although I don’t consider myself a typical girl, I related to alot of your observations and had a good laugh at other observations, as I have witnesses many of these myself. I also thought it was funny that the first comments were from women offended by your observations which supports point 72 that women can be very sensitive to criticism, and twist complements or plain old observations into insults lol. Anyway, I thought it was awesome! I wish I could find a trainer as observant and insightful as you. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Bret

      Yep, I offered many more compliments than insults and I praised women over men in many circumstances too, but unfortunately some don’t see any of that. Cheers!

  70. DreadRabbit666

    I’m a woman and I agree with #37, YAAAAAY CHALK!!!! *CLAP*CLAP*CLAP*!!!!! 😀 *throws chalk in air *makes chalk angel* eats chalk*

    1. Bret

      Eats chalk? Haha! I have a rule that any client who claps has to clean the chalk off the floor (but I never really enforce it and the ones who like to clap do it anyway).

  71. Cara


    You are the first trainer I have ever heard mention this 16 & 17. As soon as my fiance (who is also a trainer) saw you mention those two, he linked the article to me. Precisely my two issues when after I had been lifting heavy for over a year. I even had comments from friends about my monster quads and traps overshadowing the rest of my body. Too much of a good thing is sometimes…just too much!! I can grow traps and quads like a chi-chi-chi-chia pet and my fiance never really understood/believed my claims.

    It threw my whole feminine physique out of balance and admittedly, got me scared of lifting heavy. I’m easing my way back into it with the understanding that these 2 muscle groups grow very easily for me. Thank you for addressing this. (aka: yay I’m not alone!)

    Really enjoyed this article. Can tell you’ve trained a lot of females. I usually scan articles but I read this one the whole way through. That’s when you know it’s good.

    1. Bret

      Thanks Cara. I have trained quite a few women like you, and had I been “black and white” like many trainers/coaches I see out there, I’d have caused their physiques to get worse over time. Cheers!

  72. Shirley

    What an incredible stupid and patronising post. I’m unfollowing you on twitter ASAP but what would you care as I’m a woman and I do stupid shit.

    1. Bret

      Shirley, I do care, but obviously your mind is made up. I don’t feel this is a good strategy though. Each month I come out with some good stuff that you can benefit from. Even if you think I’m a pig and hate my attitude, you could still learn from my articles and videos. I follow several people who I don’t care for personally, just because they come out with good content. So I’d hope that you could overlook our differences as I have some very good stuff coming out over the next few months that you’d probably enjoy. I don’t think women are stupid.

    2. Frank N

      Just because you can’t stand getting your feelings hurt over an article online over some basic observations… LAME doesnt even begin to describe you lady… sorry princess shove that feminist ideology right up your vayjay where it belongs,

    1. nicq

      How about “sorry I was being sexist arsehole who mistakes his own prejudices for facts and doesn’t even stop to think about it”?

    2. Jennifer

      You want to be respected as a scientist, Bret – this is peer review. You respond by correcting errors, apologize for offended women (and one woman saying “I’m not offended” doesn’t cancel 10 saying they are), cite your sources for research-based statements, and you don’t make the same mistake again. Or – you can ignore me, because after all, I don’t do science. I’m a woman.

    3. Elizabeth

      I couldn’t agree more with “The Rant of An Angry Pink Lady, a reaction to Bret Contreras.”
      I am an active girl who frequents the gym for cycling, running, and power yoga (the super enjoyable, relaxing, stretch class! Isn’t that what you called it? Also ladies are flexible because: SEX).
      I am comfortable in the gym environment and I am confident in how I look, in workout clothes or anything else. I read this post hoping for some useful information on how to bridge the gap from cardio to strength training, but found instead a Dear Diary post written by a sexist man. The fact that you didn’t expect and don’t understand the backlash you’ve received goes to show how blind you are to both to commonplace sexism (if you don’t see it, I guess it doesn’t exist…?) and your privilege as a white male who inhabits an environment where he feels completely at home (I mean the GYM). There are many women out there who are curious about strength training, like myself, and this article did nothing but reinforce the hesitancy I already experience: I am a novice in that arena, I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to technique or practice, I am the odd one out in a room full of grunting (sexually or otherwise *eye roll*) men. The fact that you listed out all the differences you see does nothing to empower women; it serves only to further alienate the two sexes from each other. Not discounting the women who strength train/power lift, etc. regularly, I am speaking from the group of women who are physically fit but have not yet wandered into the weight section.
      It’s also nice that a good number of your supporters in the comments here further condemn women from reacting in any negative way to your omnipotence. Apparently being a woman and having an opposing opinion=drama, even though this whole post is chalk-full of your opinion and no one’s accusing you, a white, straight male, of being dramatic.
      The only remaining point that requires address is #18: “Certain female sexual positions might contribute to women possessing good hip mobility and pelvic control (ex: ones that have the woman in a deep squat position, ones that have the woman in a bridge position, ones that have the woman rocking their hips back and forth, etc.)” I MEAN, REALLY? I don’t even…. I can’t believe… WOW. I’m reaaallly sure that women’s anatomy (you know, the science kind?) has nothing to do with their mobility or joint structure. It’s more likely because ladies practice all of the sex things. (When they aren’t baking and getting their nails painted.)
      I have no doubt you will dismiss this comment and believe that I turned a blind eye to all of the insightful info you had to share. If you’d like, you can also believe I’m excited for your next post! Cheers.

  73. Lady Flo

    Hi, good stuff in general and it’s good to hear from experience.
    A couple of points though.

    -While a lot of it is generalist there are scientifically proven points throughout. While the audience is general and may not go into depth and read any references you should still reference the important bits that have been proven and published as a result of hard work and study done by someone other than yourself. Please in future give them the credit they deserve by reference them,
    -Point 27 is medically incorrect. Please read more about amenorrhoea as there is more to it than low body fat.

    1. Gráinne

      Agreed re the amenorrhea! In fact, he’s wrong when he says it’s body fat. It’s usually chronic energy deficit rather than fat per se. There was so much wrong with his piece-but this was one of the glaring pieces of medical inaccuracy.

  74. Loraine

    Hi Bret! I found this piece to be pretty entertaining. As a medical student, I am fascinated by the human body. Around 6 months ago, I let my boyfriend start teaching me all the lifts and he is now “training” me. I accomplished my first full snatch this week! It’s all very exciting to me!

    While I found some of your observations to be true, some are just unfortunate (women being gullible, not being able to easily remove plates from a bar, relying more on anecdotal advice than reading up on scientific literature). Being reminded of some of the short-comings of women in the weight room as well as some of the stereotypes (anchored in reality), makes me want to be an even more respectable athlete involved in strength training. Strength itself is very important to me, but I am also mindful of setting a positive example for my gender.

    By the way, I would certainly say that my body type is most similar to Shakira’s…if Shakira just worked on her abs, traps, quads and glutes a bit more 😉

  75. Viola Rodrigues

    I like the part where you say that some women have hypertrophy in some muscles contratry to what people say….like my arms and shoulders grow and recover faster than other parts…

  76. Mayra Armijo

    Loved the article. Very funny at times and overall great observations. People who may take offense to some of the content need to realize that is not all aim directly at them. BTW the chalk part is so me 😉

  77. Abe

    Right on the money Bret, especially the one that says, wife or girlfriends won’t listen to us if we are a trainer or coach, but it will listen to my friend who is a trainer or other trainer and is telling her the same things I’ve said, lol

  78. Emily

    Love your stuff Bret, but I also saw a lot of generalizations. I think it’s probably due to the differences between the female client population you work with and the female client population I’ve worked with (and the women lifters I know). The women I know though are primarily interested in strength and competing in strength-based sports, whereas I know a lot of the women you lift with are more aesthetics-based (which will naturally end up having a more stereotypical client population).

    I think there’s also a huge difference between women who are new to lifting, and women who have been in the sport an extended period of time. Guys who are very new to lifting have all kinds of wacky ideas but perhaps you haven’t met as many of them as you’ve met newbie women? Also, if you want to see drama look no further then a powerlifting team. 😛

    I also believe there’s some stuff that women do that come out of social conditioning or necessity–for example, it’s terrifically difficult to find non-pink or pastel or neon workout clothing if you’re a woman! And re: bringing life struggles, I think women have a tendency to TALK about them more, whereas men bring them but aren’t telling you. So you don’t realize that week when your client is just not doing well and he says he’s just “tired”, it’s really because he’s been fighting with his wife.

  79. ceolaf

    You list contains some good insights. It is also wildly insulting in spots, and presented in a way that undermines its strengths. So, some suggestions.

    1) You’ve split the list into four parts, but one part is is 50% longer than all the other parts put together. Find a way to equalize that a bit. There have GOT to be ways to break that third part up into at least three piece.

    2) You need to be aware that your observations come from a very small sample size and cannot be qualitatively generalized to the wider population of women. I appreciate your use of “many” “some” “most” and other qualifiers in many of your entries, but you need to do better with them. For example, you cannot not make ANY universal claims just based on your observation. That means that EVERYTHING based on your observations must be qualified and must be done so with a lot of uncertainty. You cannot claim “most,” because you lack the representative data to know whether or not it is most — unless you say “in my experience” every single goddamn time. All you can really claim is “some.” (if you are working on your PhD, my guess is that you already understand sample size and representativeness)

    3) Throughout your piece, you show that you think that women are like novice men at strength training. Over and over again you point out that they do things that one would expect better and more experienced men NOT to do. But you ascribe this to their gender, rather than their inexperience. The fact that you sometimes fail to use any qualifiers and your sloppiness with the qualifiers you do use makes this look far more sexist than I think you actually are.

    4) Be very careful about any out and out insulting claims about women, particularly in comparison to men. For example: “Women are more gullible and prone to gimmicks and fads in regards to exercise and fitness.” Wow. No qualifier there at all. Just an insult. Made as a general statement. Unless this claim is fully defined and justified with data — and even then you’d need some sort of qualifier like “on average” in order to acceptable — then it makes you look like a sexist pig, and taints the entire list with a sense of misogyny that I don’t think you feel. That’s not the only one, either. So, go through and clean those up.

    5) I do not know if you were trying to make as long a list as you could, wanted each entry to be a single sentence or wanted each entry to be roughly equal in length. But whatever the cause, you’ve created a problem. Some of your entries actually constitute a good/thoughtful observation when taken together, but read as sexist when read alone. #61 is bad. But if you presented it as one multi-sentence entry with 62 and 63, it makes a much better point. The dead giveaway there is that #62 begins with “however.” But there are others that should be combined as well.

    6) I think you lost sight of your audience a bit sometimes. Most of these are well aimed at trainers. But some of them are just for men at the gym. For example, #63. You should go through and make sure that each observation is for your claimed intended audience.

    7) I know that you own the list in the intro. But it’s long and people are going to lose track of that, perhaps coming back in the middle, or just sending excerpts to people. Own it the whole way. “I have seen…” “Some of my clients…” “My wife helped me to understand…” Without those, this list looks a lot more arrogant than you probably intended it to be.

    Frankly, I read this list as being highly offensive. It is full of sexist and insupportable claims, and my anger is only tempered by my ability to laugh at how weak the list is.

    At the same time, I can see how strong the list is in other spots. There are useful observations in there, and not just about the technical and mechanical aspects of strength training. However, all too often they are obscured by their incredibly poor presentation.

    You worked hard to put this list together. Don’t stop in the middle of the work. It need more from you, to get the offensive (and insupportable) crap out and to fix the presentation of the rest.

    1. LeeRyan

      Just wanted to say this is an excellent response with great advice. I really hope the author is able to read this and improve his writing from your points, they are great.

    2. Jiu Jiu

      7) I know that you own the list in the intro. But it’s long and people are going to lose track of that, perhaps coming back in the middle, or just sending excerpts to people. Own it the whole way. “I have seen…” “Some of my clients…” “My wife helped me to understand…” Without those, this list looks a lot more arrogant than you probably intended it to be.

      Yes! That’s exactly the reaction I had! To say “women” or “all women” like wearing pink or love clapping chalk – very different than saying women’s breast sizes fluctuate throughout the month.

      Honestly, had you made it about the women you observed, it would have made it more valuable. Phrases like – “the women who come into my gym” or “overall, my female clients” or “compared to my male clients, the women…” or “5 of my last 7 women clients…” “Most of the women I have worked with”

      Does it add a higher word count? Yes. Does it make it more true and take away sweeping generalizations? Absolutely. Were you to edit this to keep the same information but to own the observations would make this more palatable.

    3. Kendra

      I should have waited a day for this comment to come up and just written “ditto.” This person gave you honest, objective and constructive criticism, and in a much better way than I did. It’s quite a testimony to your strengths that people see past what you’ve written here, so please don’t get defensive this time and take a helping hand when it comes to you.

  80. Jessica

    I think you’re great, but I do not care for this article. What you seem to be describing is the average newbie to lifting, which you are conflating with general female characteristics. I assume this is because most of the women who hire you are, indeed, new to lifting, whereas perhaps your male clients want improved performance or are recovering from an injury and need guidance for rehab workouts.

    I am a female powerlifter and my coach does not tolerate complaining, I am not allowed to wear gloves, and I don’t fritter away on the elliptical and then do a hundred crunches as a workout.

    There are some points here that are, of course, undeniable, particularly an average female’s strength compared to that of a man. Fair enough. But points like a female’s gym noises sounding more sexual? Are you sure you aren’t just filtering that through your own male perception?

    And the people MOST preoccupied with their looks, in my experience, have been young males. While I was deadlifting one guy remarked to my coach he’d never do that because he wants to be “lean and cut.” This guy is neither. Talk about misperceptions. Meanwhile, I don’t feel hideously bulky at 5’4″, 102 lbs, but I do enjoy knowing I’m stronger than the guy practicing poses in the mirror or the one doing curls in the squat rack (Not ok. Never ok).

    You are describing the features of an inexperienced lifter, not women lifters.

  81. Allison

    I found myself really engrossed by the first 2 sections (very helpful, thank you) and utterly appalled at the 3rd, so I stopped reading. Yes, a lot of women like to wear pink at the gym, etc. etc. but what does calling out these stereotypes accomplish?

    If you keep writing about differences in male/female anatomical structure relating to getting the most out of lifting, I’ll keep reading. If not, keep your stereotypes to yourself — I don’t fit in them anyway.

  82. AJ

    I just wished you would have provided citations at the end to articles that supported your observations. Seems there have been arguments back and forth about how the tips/observations have been colored. Mayhap the presence of multiple peer-review articles would have not only satisfied this need in some people (such as myself), but helped others to feel the article was less stereotypes by combining your observations with access to the valid, scientific articles you reference.

    I understand not all of this applies to all women at all stages of training…but I had to play a little bit of devil’s advocate after getting frustrated by lack of citations and then reading “64.Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence.” Just your friendly, OCD, female doctor here. 😉 I always want all of the info possible!

  83. Lila

    I can see why people find this offensive. I mean…the pink clothes thing makes me laugh! But, your sample size is small, even if you trained a hundred women. You seem aware of that, so I commend you for putting yourself out there and seemingly being receptive to critique. That said, I would totally love for you to be my trainer, because it seems like you take this seriously and work to be knowledgeable. That’s commendable and, I’d want to work with someone like this when strength training.

  84. lisa

    The title should be “120 observations” not “120 tips” These are not tips. These are your extremely stereotypical observations. Your observations aren’t really helpful, to any one. They don’t offer any insight or solutions.

  85. Katie

    Any good points made here are pretty much overshadowed, in my opinion, by some really offensive and frankly idiotic things you’ve said. Women don’t believe in scientific evidence? Funny that you have no proof of that. It’s only sexual when women grunt? Women aren’t capable of learning vocabulary? The wavelength of light that we see as pink is incompatible with athleticism? What nonsense. Why shouldn’t anyone, male or female, wear pink to lift weights if that’s what they like?
    Really, a very poor article. You should be ashamed of yourself for perpetuating misogyny online, and you should consider that maybe the reason women seem intimidated by weightlifting is because of articles like this one.

  86. Chelsea

    While I’m in no way condoning the entire article, I’m really glad somebody finally admit that some women CAN get too bulky with certain types of training. I am SO tired of trainers telling me this is not possible, or not a real concern when I have experienced it FIRST HAND in my training for sports. As somebody who has been a serious athlete for almost her entire life, I find it maddening when trainers presume to know better than I how my body will or won’t respond to training. If I train like a beast, I will look like a beast. Plain and simple. I’d like to send them all a reference to the various mean girls who called me fat/monster/sasquatch when I was ripped on every inch of my body. Ugh.

    1. Beth

      Actually, this IS wrong. You’re only going to get bulky like a female bodybuilder if you take steroids. If you lift heavy weights, you will NOT get bulky. Additionally, you have to eat in a caloric surplus to add any quality, substantial muscle. Most women do not eat in a caloric surplus. I am a registered dietician and have a degree in sports medicine. Trust me…..he’s wrong.

      1. Blake

        Actually, some women can get bigger than they would like from lifting weights. If they are eating enough to get continue to get stronger then she is eating enough to gain muscle. Not all women seem prone to this, but I know my wifes quads will explode when she lifts. She hates it because it means bye-bye skinny jeans. Plus she says she likes soft lines not hard man legs. So while she doesnt have the potential to be as big as a man she does have the potential to gain more muscle than she finds attractive. Its all a matter of perspective, what she sees a bulky female physique you may see as just sexy. By the we both have kinesiology degrees, mine in exercise science and hers in sports med. You, Beth, are wrong.

  87. voula

    This was kind of funny to read..in a good way. I defer A LOT from most women when its comes to talking during training, or not going heavy enough, BUT i definitely know that most women are exactly like that. Obviously Bret is talking about the general female population, not the more hardcore trainees. I definitely can say most of the physical and strength points relate to me, such as squat strength not being near hip thrust strength. I am opposite a lot of women in that it has always been incredibly easy for me to activate my glutes but it has taken me a long time to learn how to properly engage my quads. Anyway, very interesting article.

  88. Judith

    I think this article had the opposite of your intended effect. Here’s a comment from the Jezebel article about this post: “This is totally just what I need. Further proof that there are people secretly judging me at the gym instead of minding their own fucking business while I workout. Fabulous.” As a lady lifter, it saddens me greatly that your post is actually making women more afraid to work out.

    You come off very misogynistic and condescending in your writing, although I’m sure (or at least, I hope) that wasn’t your intention. Is your upcoming publication with Kellie Davis along these lines? I hope not.

  89. WallStreetReader

    Long-time (male) fan of your site, Bret. Saw a link to the article about you on Jezebel.

    You’re a smart dude and you clearly 1) knew you’d get attention for writing this, 2) knew some of that attention would be frothy outrage.

    For what it’s worth, I have one bit of advice re. engaging with any mainstream site on this topic, let alone with any genuinely crazed site like Jezebel that’s edited by propeller-scarred manatees who hate both men and attractive women.

    Don’t appease. Don’t let them frame the discussion. Don’t qualify your ideas. You know 10x more than them about fitness, both theoretically and in practice, while all their arguments are some variation of “how DARE you suggest women are in any way different, unless by different you mean superior?!” They’re not arguing from a position of logic, and therefore you’d accomplish nothing by engaging them with logic except to make yourself look uncertain.

    So if you do engage/debate online, don’t back down or apologize or let them chastise you for stating what are some pretty basic observations for anyone who’s spent a ton of time in the gym. I’m definitely not suggesting being a dick, or exaggerating, or going on the attack… just matter-of-factly stand by your positions.

    You’re such a reasonable fucking guy in your articles, and you have that (correct) scientist’s bent of qualifying most statements because the reality is there are no absolutes in exercise science. So I just wanted to send out a friendly reminder to suppress your natural instincts in this particular case.

    1. Dave

      “how DARE you suggest women are in any way different, unless by different you mean superior?!”

      This is not what the women who are posting here are saying. Perhaps READ what they’re saying before you write something that’s incredibly wrong. They’re not saying they’re superior. They’re saying that these tips are not really tips. That they’re observable generalizations that are rather sexist in nature. They’re not saying they’re better than men, or even equal to….they are not drawing parallels between the sexes. They’re saying nothing he’s said here is based on fact, really. Bret talks about different sexual positions, wearing pink, etc. That’s not science.

  90. Britt

    I would consider myself a “noob” to the weight training field – I am starting branch out my fitness routine past cardio and I can honestly say that after reading this, I have learned pretty much nothing except that you seem to have an issue with women weight-lifters. These weren’t “tips” these were things that you observed that you found annoying.

    I would be interested in reading ACTUAL TIPS on weightlifting for women, rather than your misogynistic observances like “Women almost always wear pink. Men don’t do that.” – THANKS FOR THE TIP BRO

  91. Sarah

    #64. Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence

    Ha! And yet *your* listicle is purely anecdotal evidence. Kettle meet pot.

    And please don’t whine to me about not having enough time to post your academic sources. I get enough of that from my college freshmen.

  92. katerunsthis

    This is a really great satirical piece about stereotypes at the gym and how men can effectively bully some women out of weight rooms. It’s too bad so many of your readers think you’re being serious.

    Oh, wait… YOU think this is serious? That’s too bad, too. Most of these are not tips, many points you make seem to contradict earlier points you made, and while some are certainly true of some women we have all seen, the generalizations are really too far.

    “Women like wearing pink workout apparel and take their training attire much more seriously than men” <– This is not a tip. It does not make me a stronger woman, it does not help me learn to lift or exercise efficiently or effectively, it does not even help a trainer/friend/spouse help me. I take training attire seriously because there is nothing worse than a man in the weight room staring at my breasts if I wear a v-neck top. I take training attire seriously because there is NOTHING more distracting that a piece of clothing that doesn't fit right or rubs the wrong way during certain movements. I take training attire seriously because every weight room has some oaf in it who is SO EXCITED to go home and write a damn list about what women wear to the gym…

    So much of this post is so gross that it loses the few bits that actually are helpful and I think you have lost a lot of credibility.

  93. Kristi

    I really appreciated some of your comments, such as those comparing strength differences between men and women in certain body parts, or those regarding vagus collapse, etc. Basically those about anatomy and physiology.

    However, for tips regarding behavior, etc., many of them are true of men and women. Others are based more on your impression and seem very shortsighted. I’m guessing that many of your conclusions are based on women who hire trainers, which creates a selection bias. I have also not found that women ignore scientific articles any more so than men in my personal experience (as s scientist myself, I’m biased as well). But generalizing to all women based on a subset – who are very likely the least experienced with athletics and may have other personality traits in common that prompt them to get a trainer–creates a false representation.

  94. B.

    A lot of this is indeed interesting, and I’m sure you meant no offense even where there is offense.

    As for me, the main thing that gets me is where you started about the fact that women can get too muscular in certain areas. I HATE it when people start saying that certain women are too muscular. I get that due to societal standards it may not be physically attractive, but seriously, are women just supposed to avoid reaching their maximum strength and physical potential in the name of what society deems appropriate? I mean COME ON. An ex boyfriend of mine even felt my arm once and whined that he liked his women to be soft (whereas he was allowed to build up all the muscle he wanted). Everyone thinks women are weak, but why are we so discouraged from building muscle and becoming strong human beings? As one male personal trainer once told me, “Now since you’re a lady, you’re going to want to get toned but not too muscular. Remember that you want to feel strong, but you’re going more for aesthetics here.” To his shock, I fired him right after he said that.

  95. pushharder

    The PC backlash in the comments is comical and reinforces many stereotypes that the women who are making them so avidly abhor.

    Bret, you did a great job here. There was good, useful information and it was spiced with truly entertaining observations that were not misogynistic in any way.

    Keep it up!

  96. Disgusted

    You, Bret, are the reason I stopped working out at a gym and only work out at home. Judgemental assholes like you. Congratulations on showing people your true colors.

    Go back to your steroids and leave women alone, you don’t deserve female clients.

  97. Bandit

    So, here’s why women wear pink and men don’t…women’s sportswear comes in pink. I went to pick out a new sportsbra the other day, and the only two colors available were black and pink. Maybe you’d like to remind us of other stereotypes in your next column? Perhaps entitled “Women can’t drive?”
    As for the rest of your “tips” (which are mostly personal anecdotes), here’s some I have created for you:
    1. Women at the gym grunt normally, while men seem to prefer sounding like they’re hunched over a toilet after a late-night taco bell run.
    2. Women clean their sweat off the equipment they touch, while men are super-gross and forget.
    3. Many beginning male weight trainers fear not being able to bulk up, which makes them irritable and defensive.
    The idea that women who don’t appreciate your article are just “super-defensive” and can’t take criticism is your own constructed bias supporting what you see. Maybe you should be wondering, “why are my gross generalizations offending other people?”

    1. Sheyna

      Ugh number 2 ftw! Seriously guys are gross is my observation. Also men are much more likely to leave bars racked and wander away to do more curls…or chest exercises!

  98. Alan Aragon

    Great article, Bret. However, I’m pretty damn offended that you didn’t cover the proper technique and benefits of controlled spanking of the female glutes (when appropriate).

    1. Derrick Blanton

      Dammit, Aragon!

      I know that you are a scientist, and think that ‘female’ is an inoffensive, objective term. Apparently you didn’t get the memo from above, courtesy of “mp”: The use of the word ‘female’ is “insulting, and debasing”.

      This would be the more appropriate way to express your sentiment:

      … “controlled spanking of the WOMAN’s glutes”…

      1. Alan Aragon


        I stand corrected, good Sir. I’m completely in agreement that “woman” should replace “female” unless we are purposely being vague about the animal species in question. :)

    2. ARH

      I know, right? I’m also offended that he didn’t include the proper technique for effectively launching a kettle ball at men’s gnads after they smack my ass. Such a missed opportunity.

  99. Katrina

    You sound like an ignorant jackass. For such an average “beach body”, you sure do hold yourself in an unjustifiably high regard. I don’t know what pool of women you are collecting this information from, but you should consider interacting with real female athletes and weight lifters before making such blanket statements.

  100. Pedro Sun

    Note to self: to get lot’s of comments on future website, write about women and training, the observations I gather.
    I think my favorite is # 72 as this applies not only to your observations in the gym, but in real life it seems :/

    What I really wanna know is when are you guys gonna release the next episode of the strength podcast?

  101. Amy S.

    64. Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence

    18. Certain female sexual positions might contribute to women possessing good hip mobility and pelvic control (ex: ones that have the woman in a deep squat position, ones that have the woman in a bridge position, ones that have the woman rocking their hips back and forth, etc.)

    LOL at this juxtaposition.

    But it’s true. My vagina makes me hate facts.

    52. Where women store fat varies dramatically between women – typical problematic areas for fat storage are the inner thighs, buttocks, and back of the arms, however some struggle in the lower abdominal and lower back regions too

    LOL again. ***Absolutely no awareness*** that “problematic areas for fat storage” is a social/cultural construct.

    61. Women sometimes dress very sexy for the gym and are then annoyed when males show interest while they’re training, which on the surface doesn’t make the best of sense.


    7. Many women have unhealthy attitudes about their body images.

    Couldn’t be because a bonehead says they look like a Tasmanian Devil, could it?

    56. Most women have well-intentioned male friends who give them horrendous advice pertaining to their goals.

    No. Like who? Who might do that?! I can’t think of anybody who, for example, would make a list of 120 “tips” for women’s strength training, many of which are misogynistic/moronic.

    1. Moxie

      Absolutely agree with all of this. Especially the rape culture comment. Seriously, because it’s comfortable to work out in fitted pants and a tank top, I’m inviting men to make sexual advances?

  102. Louis

    I remember the days when women were advised to stay in “their area” of the gym (ie. cardio room, cable machine section, etc.) and to use the pink dumbbells. And now the new phenomenon of training women JUST like men (“train like a man, look like goddess” as they sometimes say). Both are extreme approaches, IMO, and function more like every other fad that comes along. I applaud Bret for paying close attention to both the well-established and perceived differences between women and men–physiologically, psychologically, emotionally, and otherwise. While I don’t agree with every single thing on the list, I find it incredibly insightful. And it’s fertile ground for understanding these things in much greater depth.

  103. mw

    Women are generally more sensitive to criticism from men because they’re generally subjected to more judgement from people. I think understanding that would be important because item 72 alone might encourage someone who is presenting their criticism unconstructively/negatively to be dismissive of complaints.


  104. LP

    I completed this article more amused than anything else. I mean, I was sent the link from my bf to read for entertainment so I didn’t take anything seriously. I can see how some of the things like wearing pink may be common in some women, but I have to agree with the majority of females stating that there weren’t any actual “tips.” I’ve been lifting for a while now and when I go back into the gym tonight, there aren’t any improvements I could make from reading this article.

    I’ve seen enough men hit the weight room to know that a large majority of them do ridiculous things and have silly beliefs. I think the only thing I’ll truly agree with is that men love looking at themselves in the mirror.

  105. WallStreetReader

    Hmm, let’s check out the writer of the Jezebel article, Laura Beck:


    VegNews columnist and resident sassy lass Laura Hooper Beck’s blog, Vegansaurus, was honored with the year’s Best Blog Post Web Award from SF Weekly, one of San Francisco’s premier arts and culture publications. Beck won for a March 2009 post entitled “Other Avenues! Also, FAT PEOPLE RULE!” The blog entry riffs on misconceptions about veganism and challenges fat hate and stereotypes.

    Kind of explains everything, doesn’t it.

    1. CIF

      Because someone’s personal choice to be fat totally invalidates every statement they make. Google “ad hominem,” please and thank you.

      1. Blake

        “Because someone’s personal choice to be fat totally invalidates every statement they make.”

        In regard to training, gym going, and the discussion thereof, Yeah, it pretty much does. Thats like putting stock in Philip-Morris’s position on lung health.

  106. Rebecca D

    Wow dude – you’re going viral on this one!!

    I’m a thirty-something gal and just wanted to let you know I like most of your comments. My advice would be to remove some of the less objective points that have no bearing on training anybody – the comments on clothing choices, grunting, etc. The one about women never listening to their trainer bf just makes u sound like a disgruntled ex. I’m sure you’ve found all that stuff to be true but you probably want to talk about that over beer w your buddies than have it out there representing you as a professional trainer.

    And haha – my personal trainer is a gay man – I chose him bc he makes me laugh while kicking my butt!! Not sure where that fits in your male vs female trainer scheme.

    Best wishes from someone who is perfectly happy dabbling in different fitness regimes bc it keeps things fresh and variety is the spice of life!!

  107. Schenley

    Woman. feminine and strong. 19 years of training both men and women. Read it – laughed, cheered, smiled, nodded and thought it was such a great compilation of things I’ve seen …. And then started reading comments. Wow. Simply looking for reasons to be offended. He was speaking about experiences and truths in his training. Not about YOU. Egocentrism. I have found the same truths. They aren’t offensive unless you decide they are or that they are referring to you. Until you have trained thousands, yes thousands of clients – you really can’t know whether these are true. I have – most are

  108. ms slay

    you need to get laid in a bad way!
    go get laid quickly and never right this ca ca again.

    no worries, the women of the world still love you probably

    ms slay

  109. Naomi

    I’m sorry, but this list is horribly biased toward your own personal misgivings against the women you’ve seen doing strength training “wrong” or with the information that a male-dominated fitness culture has given them (men are supposed to be bulky; exercising is to make you good in bed; exercise wear should be sexy, and not for the wearer’s benefit; and so on).

    These are not tips, Bret. This is you using your misogyny to make trite comments about the women whom you aren’t helping to get fit. And no, having a woman say it’s empowering isn’t proof that you aren’t being misogynistic; it’s proof that nobody’s sat down with her and told her that she doesn’t have to put up with this nonsense.

    1. Moxie

      “…having a woman say it’s empowering isn’t proof that you aren’t being misogynistic; it’s proof that nobody’s sat down with her and told her that she doesn’t have to put up with this nonsense.”

      I think that’s what makes me the saddest. All these women that don’t see the inherent misogyny in some of these statements because casual sexism is so culturally normalized and ingrained…

      And people saying that someone wouldn’t be offended by some of these statements unless they identify with it… where does such a nonsensical idea even come from? I’m not black, but I can tell when something is racist, and therefore offensive.

  110. Kendra

    I know you’re very respected by some people–ladies, actually–that I admire and respect, so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here. But honestly, you have to understand that maybe while you didn’t mean it, many of these observations are inherently either sexist, opinionated or just plain unhelpful. A lot of this, though, is in the way you phrase the observation.

    Here are my points as to why this is problematic: 1) you seems to be mixing up women and noobs with a LOT of these. Maybe that’s who you train, sure, but honestly–I have NEVER giggled when reaching failure. I don’t think anyone’s nervous system would cause that effect, yet I could see that coming out if one were self-conscious and new to the experience. 2) You take a lot of general differences about the way women act or socialize, but pose them in a negative context. Like, “Women often bring drama to the gym and have more trouble detaching from everyday life-struggles when training.” I actually don’t think that this is true, but you could say that in GENERAL, women tend to chat about their issues more and men sometimes just go in a cave for a while. However, you write it in a way makes it seem like women are doing something wrong. 3) Many of these observations are either very, very obvious, or completely unhelpful. Like that ankle mobility one. 4) There is a heavy dose of opinion thrown in here…”tasmanian devil” point shows this. 5) There are a lot of blanket statements saying that “women believe X, but that is wrong.” This makes it sound like you think women are stupid, especially since you do this several times. I don’t think you mean to say that–it seems you have a great deal of female clients and would like to show them respect, but comments like that make it sound like we’re running around the gym causing drama and clapping chalk up in the air. Again, this could be a “noob” problem, not a women problem.

    Honestly, this to me stereotypes you as much as a dumb jock dude as you’re stereotyping women as flaccid, empty-headed bimbos in his article. You have a long way to go in being an objective observer. But what do I care? I’m a female! Fuck facts! Give me anecdotes!

  111. stormtrooper

    Well as a woman who regulars my gym, I constantly fear the judgment of others. I was worried it was coming from those gazelle types on the elliptical, but no! It’s from the men in the free weights section! That section that I just started to wander into thanks to a new-found interest in power lifting! That I thought I’d be safe in because no one was going to bug out if I was wearing pink! I must say I didn’t learn anything from your writing. Here are some things I need actual tips on: how many reps should I do to build muscle size, how many for strength? How much is too much to spend on protein powder? Let me say I’m not upset about your stereotypes and frequent sexist comments, think what you want – but, at the very least, your article is poorly titled and not very educational, at all.

    1. Derrick Blanton

      I identify with you, and I like the way you express your opinion.

      Props on the PL.

      The gazelles ARE judging you.

      Men are not judging your exercise technique as much as checking out your ass.

      Pink is great. No one cares.

      REPS 6-12, Upper; 8-15 Lower. Hypertrophy is correlated with the maximum amount of volume that you can recover from. Huge generality here. Different body parts respond to different rep schemes based on fiber type. Quads, go high reps. Quality reps are as important as volume of reps. Go to near failure, but don’t lose muscular control of the load. Many different theories on this topic. I gave you mine.

      PROTEIN: $10-12/lb. Supplements in general are an ENORMOUS scam. This cannot be overstated. Protein is a good one, but not entirely necessary depending on your diet. Anecdotally, I have found that SOME women are reluctant to eat enough protein. GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are wildly overpriced, find a local store or go to Target or Walmart or CVS or something. Trader Joe’s is good. Whole food is the best, but sometimes difficult to consume enough due to satiety.

      Lastly, and not so much directed to you, stormtrooper, but I think BC is a good guy, and a great trainer/coach. He’s a little unfiltered, but honest, incredibly bright, and highly motivated. He knows his stuff, and clearly cares deeply about his clients and doing a good job. He gets fantastic results. Watch his YouTube videos, esp. the 2009 stuff before he broke out in a big way.
      You can’t fake this stuff.

      stormtrooper, just part of the general discussion. and Good luck.

      1. Derrick Blanton

        Forgot: Strength reps below 5. Think of strength as a “practice”. You are practicing recruiting your nervous system to apply force. Each rep is grooving a pathway from your nervous system to your muscles.

        Every rep, even after years and years, is “practicing” a technique. Streamlining a movement pattern against a load. Meanwhile on a parallel path discovering where energy is leaking, where you are missing a lift, and bringing up that weak link.

        All the best! DB

  112. Jodi Rives

    “Tips”–you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. (FYI–No one with a single brain in their head is going to want to get any kind of advice/training from someone who is incapable of distinguishing between a tip and an observation–especially when the observations are about things which in no way affect or influence the weight training process.) This is toolery at its most extreme.

    1. Brian Garver

      From the preface paragraph to the list:

      “Here are 120 tips on strength training for women (many aren’t really tips, just observations).”

  113. sheila chadman

    I’m sorry, but these are tips for trainer’s, right? What you think they need to know to train women better? Shouldn’t that be apart of the title. Also, I am not sure what color of clothes and choices they make in fitness and health have any bearing on their abilities to lift weights.

  114. ktmikal

    Although I think there is some useful information here, I’d like to see the literature in which you are referring. I understand that these are your observations, and yes, you made a note of that; however, you should really title the article appropriately. On the other hand, some of these things you should have just kept to yourself because they are useless.

    Men and women are physiologically and anatomically different? What, who knew?!?! How is listening to different music important (assuming that’s the case)? Why does it matter if a woman wears pink instead of black, and how does that affect her lifting abilities? Some women prefer male trainers and some prefer female? Are you kidding? Even women can have varying preferences?

    Hey! Feel free to check out my ass cause I worked for it, and I’m totally checking out yours. Please make sure to check out my massive traps too 😉 cause I think they’re sexy!

    “Many women loathe calluses and prefer to wear lifting gloves as they feel it allows them to retain their femininity – and I have absolutely no problem with this as a trainer”

    Most importantly I would like to ask: are men keeping their femininity by wearing gloves, too? BTW – my calluses are awesome, and I worked for those too. It’s good that your clients have permission to wear gloves if they do want to keep their femininity though.

    If the article was labeled, “My Useless Observations on Women in the Gym and Some Helpful Tips” then there would be no offense taken. Instead it is disguised as “tips.” I will acknowledge that a lot of these are true (sometimes useless) observations; however, I expected there would be actual tips that I could use in the gym based on the article’s title.

  115. Deborah Conner

    And for PINK — I suppose you aren’t aware that pink is a symbol of solidarity against breast cancer. Maybe ask your mother about it.

    Do us a favor and read the Jezebel response. You guys SO make me stay home and do Nerd Fitness.

    1. ally

      NERDFITNESS! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who loves that website…Definetely have a girl crush on Staci.

  116. Heidi

    Nothing on this list is a tip. It’s titled “Tips on Strength Training for Women.” These are just comments. Not one of these makes the comment and then a tip about what to do.

    For example, “Women often struggle to load and unload plates off of barbells properly due to pulling or positioning them off-track rather than centering them perfectly and pushing/pulling straight-on”

    Is there a reason for this? Perhaps height makes it harder for them to center them perfectly? What’s the tip? That the trainer should do this instead? That they should hold it a certain way?

    And comments like “women carry less muscle mass than men” are kind of common sense. Where is the tip?

    “High heels likely contributes to certain women’s quad dominance and tight plantarflexors” What stretches or exercises help this?

    And stuff like this: “Certain female sexual positions might contribute to women possessing good hip mobility and pelvic control” is stupid. One, it’s just you showing that even as a trainer of women, you’re always thinking of them in sexual situations (which must make your female clients ever so comfortable). Two, it’s not the type of sex a woman has that makes women’s hips more flexible, it’s biology.

  117. Laura

    I train a lot of middle aged men and much of what you classified as female observations, I see tons within males too, and at the gym with many men. If you are citing peer reviewed articles proper writing should be backed with your sources. Your “notes”. That create this document are poorly stereotyped and truly serve no purpose in educating other trainers, which i gather you were trying to do. It truly diservices them to consider stereotyping a female and not learn to look at the client and the biomechanical issues they possess and design programming around that. There are plenty of certifications focused on corrective exercise and what you learn and develop with this knowledge is to train the client addressing what you see through fitness assessments in the beginning and their focused goal. Sadly to me your words are disrespectful, even if you stated you don’t mean for them to be, placing it in writing, to me, only shows your narrow view and I hope you consider developing a much broader one in our field so that your future writings will be educational and not degrading and poorly written.

  118. Noelle

    “Tips”, though?

    “Women in general complain about pain more frequently than men” – 1) how is this a TIP and 2) lol! I don’t know what part of the world you are from, but on earth men are usually the ones wining when they are in pain.

  119. Me

    So looking forward to reading your PhD thesis Bret. I would skip the methodology section and go straight to your conclusions on how colour of workout clothing affects women strength training and what trainers can do about it.

    Watch out though. You might end up with a sports apparel merchandiser sponsorship.

  120. Me

    64. Women don’t tend to care as much about science and research – anecdotes are often sufficient for evidence

    Irony Cat sees what you did there, Bret.

    You fucking hack.

  121. Anon

    This is a bizarre mixture of blatantly obvious facts and bizarre observations, some very interesting, some just stupid and sexist. Hunh.

  122. pushharder

    Sure are a bunch of piss poor readers ’round here. How many of you literacy specialists missed this comment right smack dab at the beginning of the article?

    “Here are 120 tips on strength training for women (many aren’t really tips, just observations).”

    I suspect many of you highly offended whiners DID in fact read it but plowed right on with all of your indignant rage anyway.


  123. WTF

    Just saw this posted in response to my post:


    I can’t believe this is how my post was interpreted. I’m speechless. It’s actually pretty funny, but I don’t know how to respond.

    ***Really? After 120 “tips” you have no idea how to respond? All that knowledge is really cut off on this one? I am sure there are more observations on the sexual grunts of women in the gym for you to post about. Now sure why anyone would respond the way she does with those kind of “tips.”

  124. Jessica

    Has it occurred to you that numbers 65 and 70 are related? We fight grimacing(and, in turn grunting) because every man in a 5 mile radius will hear a grunt of exertion as a sex sound? We worry about how our clothes are situated because we get hit on by the meat heads trying to give us asinine advice and ask us out all the time.

    Simply stating that women have greater hip mobility would have sufficed. That’s using your big head. Stating that it’s because of sexual positions has no relevance to weight training. That’slittle head. He can stay out of this.

    Yes, I feel (illogically) more motivated when I’m in cute clothes. Stereotype totally true there.(for me!) Lol.

    As another matter, women are taught as young girls that muscles are for men and it’s not feminine. We are not generally around the equipment unlike (most)men who are taught from a young age that muscles are not only acctable but encouraged. It follows, then, that we would be uncomfortable with the equipment, have bad form from lack of exposure, and be uncomfortable with how we are, in fact, sexualized as we grunt and grimace. Not saying your article is wrong, just saying the fact that as a male trainer, these are the things you noticed and thought about(sexual positions? Really) reinforces all of the reasons that women stay out of the weights section to begin with. Even as a dedicated professional you hear sex sounds from women. Awesome. I really want to go train now that I know I sound like I’m having sex in the minds of men. It might, however, be more of a motivation to bring my husband with me next time.

  125. Sarah

    Why would you perpetuate something sexist like this? This is simply awful. All of the “duuuhh, I’m a girl!” misconceptions that you have stated here – spot reduction, abdominal obsession, not wanting to get “too big” too fast, obsessing over special equipment or outfits, doing isolation exercises – are also favourites of beginner men. You are only observing the women who do it because you’re inherently a sexist. You should also evaluate your need to sexualize your clients, as some of these comments are completely inappropriate coming from a “professional”. This article is a joke, you are a joke.

  126. Val

    Interesting stuff. I have to wonder why, though, when you accuse women of not caring as much about science and research and using anecdotes for evidence, you refuse to cite anything scientific here, and instead give us a list of anecdotes. Women “tend to do ______ more than men”. Women “are more likely to _______ than men”. Not very scientific. Let me guess, we’re also not as good at math, right? Yeah.

    I also object to how condescending this whole list is. If I’m to take your word for it, then I’m expected to agree that women are weak, gullible, not tough enough to stick with a routine, not as good on the uptake when it comes to using the machines, etc. I’m sorry, but as a woman with some gym experience, I can’t agree. I saw some women who tended to flake out in their workouts, yes, and there was one woman in particular who seemed to show up only to flirt with this one regular (it was pathetic; she had a boyfriend; my sis and I totally made fun of her behind her back, I have to admit!). But for every woman like that, I saw at least one or two other women who worked hard, knew what they were doing, and were clearly seeing some results.

    And some of this stuff is just silly:

    Women’s grunting sounds sexual but not men’s? Ha ha, um, no. Men grunt too, and while it may not sound sexual to *you*, to a woman, it certainly can. I used to make sure to keep my mp3 player turned up loud because the grunting was, um, distracting to say the least!

    Women chalk their hands and clap it everywhere because “they saw a gymnast do it”? Dude, we’re adults, not six-year-old children. Holy crap.

    Women giggle when they’re nearing their max reps? This is a thing? I’ve never seen a woman giggle while maxing out her reps before. I’ve never done it either. When I get to that point, I’m generally groaning and gritting my teeth, and all that’s on my mind is getting through it.

    Of course women are excited when they can finally master a chinup. That’s hard work. We are comparatively weaker in our upper bodies than men are (thanks, sexual dimorphism!) and it takes more work for us to master that skill. It’s a big accomplishment. Also, I think you’d find that a man who finally masters that skill is pretty darn pleased with himself too.

    And of course women prefer words like “toned” or “lean”. Ripped is what happens when you catch your shirt on a nail. Shredded is what I do to lettuce before I eat it. Jacked is what I did to my car before I put my snow tires on. Yoked is what work horses are when they’re plowing a field here in Mennonite country, and “swole” isn’t even a real word.

    Listen. You sound like a decent guy and a knowledgeable trainer. But as a woman who loves working out (only thing keeping me out of a gym is finances right now!), I found this to be the literary equivalent of being petted on the head and chucked under the chin like a little girl. You talk about women like we’re naive little kids who like doin’ man stuff, and get all giggly and nervous and just can’t manage to learn things as well as you big strong men can. It’s insulting.

  127. Carla

    I totally noticed my super sexual gym grunts and my over-enthusiastic chalk clapping, but never realized that it was all because I’m a WOMAN. Thank you for enlightening with these facts of science!

    Nothing I love more than being pigeon-holed and belittled. Especially at the gym.

    1. Igor

      Yes of course, Carla. Yes, it really is all about you! How did you know? How did you know that Bret Contreras woke up and decided to do a mean, nasty, hatchet job on YOU, CARLA, SPECIFICALLY?

      Hey, Carla, in a related story, Time magazine ran an article on how reducing calories is not causing weight loss in the U.S. Those freaking bastards at Time magazine were monitoring your caloric intake, Carla.


      It’s cool, Carla. I’m sure you aren’t a high maintenance “princess”, who really should be the star of your own reality show b/c you are just…so….darn special!

  128. Elliot

    Theres so many articles/threads about stupid things men do in the gym, did we all rise up and as if it was a huge attack on women??

    No, we didn’t. We saw that those points were in fact true for some people and saw the funny side of it.

    Why can’t you do the same?

  129. John Scott

    I bet 90% of the girls whinging here are fugly sluts.
    Show some gratitude, bret’s giving you high quality specialised advice for FREE

    1. Kendra

      LOL…I don’t even want to dignify this “John Scott” comment with a reply, but it’s too funny to pass up.

      I’m not sure what “whinging” is, but I’m a fugly slut, so…GUILTY! Gotta go–need to clap this chalk off my hands before sucking some cock.

  130. Afiqah

    Geewhiz women sure are dumb! Thank goodness for big smart men like you who can teach us the ways of the world. I really didn’t realize how lost I was until I read this enlightening article.

    Seriously though, it worries me that your academic training in science hasn’t imparted in you that a biased and small sample size does not and cannot generalize to a population outside of that sample, i.e. your observation of a few girls at the same level probably from the same background from your gym working with the same trainer cannot be generalized to the rest of WOMEN. It’s fine and dandy to write up your report as “what my girls did and why I think they’re doing these things” but you really cannot claim that these are the general rules for women.

    1. DRX

      Actually if he’s trained a lot of women there’s a good chance one could *predict* the ‘general rules’ for the behaviour of women. And prediction is all that is needed. No shoulds or shouldn’ts or ‘this offends me so can’t be true’ bullshit. People need to think more with their brain, not their instincts.

      1. Afiqah

        Interesting. If this was true, then scientists shouldn’t be wasting money and time carefully selecting people that resemble the population at large and later following those groups of people for a long period of time to figure out risk factors for certain disorders. Really, any convenient sample could do. What a revelation. You should tell the scientific community this.

        I agree that people need to think more with their brains. Maybe you can start.

      2. Afiqah

        And where in my comment did I imply “this offends me so it can’t be true”? To rephrase and summarize: small and biased sample size /= truth to general population. Perhaps you can use said thinking-with-brain skill to enhance reading capabilities as well?

  131. Juanita B

    Good grief, someone bring a big hunk of cheese to go with all this whine.

    It’s turned into a cacklefest old hens — “Cluck. cluck, cluck, I’m so offended.”

  132. meg

    That made me laugh a lot..Some very good points and like you say you are not aiming it at every woman just your observation.. I am very guilty of 36 . I pick up more weight than most men I know can so I still like to feel feminine whilst doing so.Pink socks and pig tails…My trade marks.. ..I do number 37 all the time just because I find it amusing watching chalk flying every where and I just love being covered in chalk.. It is also great to slap someone straight on the ass after you have chalked up or put your hands on your own boobs so you can see hand prints..I know…Simple things!..

  133. Alex

    Great article! I work as a personal trainer and have to say that, sadly, most of the information in this article is correct.

    Keep it up and don’t let the haters get to you:)

  134. Nin

    If I was one of your female clients I would be running for the hills right now.
    Your comment on supposed female orgasms while trainning is just creepy.

  135. Estelle

    It doesn’t take a “scientist’ to see that your conclusions are based on misogyny and stereotypes. 64 and 65? Are you serious? I hope you take the time to read the negative criticism and not it brush it off as being from “haters.” If not, your observations are best kept to yourself, unless you want to lose intelligent women as clients. I can’t believe that you have any sort of positive popularity with this kind of work. Yikes.

    1. Laura

      Nin, the fact of the matter is that females do orgasm during certain movements in the gym as stated by Bret.

      I oughta know, it’s happened to me. More than once. And it occurs with other women as well. There’s nothing “creepy” about it.

      Estelle, I am an intelligent woman and would LOVE to have Bret train me. None of his comments offend me.

      Some of you bitches are way too high strung about this. It confirms many of the stereotypes that you so desperately seek to evade.

      You “Brett, you offend me so much” types sound shrill and weak.

  136. Zoe

    Seriously, this should come with a disclosure statement that this is unfounded in facts or common sense. This is just moronic. Good for jezebel and other sites for picking up on this.. you’re a disgrace to the fitness community in general. Your sexist, poorly supported “points” and “tips” prove to real trainers and athletes (MEN AND WOMEN) that you have no idea what you are talking about. Or just have a serious ego problem.

    All of those legitimate trainers and athletes who are women in your gym really starting to get to you huh? Don’t take it out on women as a whole with your BS “tips.” Maybe you should just go work a little harder.

  137. Cockburn

    Bret this is better than reality television. B-e-a-utiful. The world needs more of your unadulterated candor as much as we need your unbiased research.

    – a 6 year tnation lurker

  138. C

    This is probably a fun thing to share with the bros and chuckle about in the shower whilst brainstorming blog ideas. But released to the wild, there’s no need to nitpick; it’s all just totally creepy.

  139. Dana W

    “Jezebel?” The website named after one of the most famous whores in all of human history has unleashed her hordes on lil ol’ Brett?


  140. Auntie

    For what it’s worth, I’m a woman and I had no problem with Bret’s observations concerning how many women lift in the gym. Not offended at all. In fact, I found it so entertaining (in a good way) — and substantive, too — that I printed it out for my own trainer so that he have a chuckle too.


    And I really appreciated the insights into the “mechanical”/ anatomical differences, as well as getting a clue (thanks to Bret) as to how those could be translated into my training strategies.

    It is possible that I am not offended because I’m 44 years old. By the time a woman gets to my age, she mostly like has already made enough silly — though not fatal, fortunately! — mistakes in “Life” (including the gym, too!) to learn how to relax into being pretty much immune to feeling slighted or judged (whether by gazelles or by male jocks). Not a bad place to be…

    For what it’s worth, I see myself in so many of the “stereotypes” arrowed by Bret. That’s what made the article such fun reading for me! It’s actually a bit touching (and encouraging, too) to realize that somebody I respect as much as Bret Contreras was paying close enough attention to gain insights into quirks which are so much like my own quirks. I didn’t get the sense that he was judging or ridiculing ME or any other woman.

    Although I’m only about a year and half removed from being a totally clueless newbie in the gym, I get plenty of acceptance and respect from the guys there. Yay!


  141. Auntie

    For what it’s worth, I’m a woman and I had no problem with Bret’s observations concerning how many women lift in the gym. Not offended at all. In fact, I found it so entertaining (in a good way) — and substantive, too — that I printed it out for my own trainer so that he can have a chuckle too.

    And I really appreciated the insights into the “mechanical”/ anatomical differences, as well as getting a clue (thanks to Bret) as to how those could be translated into my training strategies.

    It is possible that I am not offended because I’m 44 years old. By the time a woman gets to my age, she most likely has made enough silly — though not fatal, fortunately! — mistakes in “Life”/ the gym to have learned how to relax into being pretty much immune to feeling slighted or judged (whether by gazelles or by male jocks). Not a bad place to be…

    For what it’s worth, I see myself in so many of the “stereotypes” arrowed by Bret. That’s what made the article such fun reading for me! For me, it’s actually a bit touching (and encouraging, too) to realize that somebody I respect as much as Bret Contreras was paying close enough attention to gain insights into quirks which are so much like my own quirks. I didn’t get the sense that he was judging or ridiculing ME or any other woman.

    Although I’m only about a year and half removed from being a totally clueless newbie in the gym, I get plenty of acceptance and respect from the guys there. Yay!


  142. Rob

    I looked over this article and shared the content with my girlfriend. Although we didn’t agree with everything I think we both got the point that male’s and females are diffirent and Bret made “observations” that he has seen from the hundreds of women he has trained I’m sure Bret would be the first to admit that this does not pertain to all females.I know I hate it when someone calls me a male it’s just so damn insulting ha ha. Bret has presented many articles for everyone to read that are all science based which took countless hours of research and hard work. There are so many people taking themselves way to serious here and I can almost bet that Bret will write an article soon about some of the things males do at the gym. I for one love to see women working out hard at the gym and think its great when I see a male and female squatting or dead lifting together and for the ladies offended get over the fact that you think every guy is judging you because most of us are wrapped up in our own workout. God forbid we observe things! I will be the first to admit I’m more annoyed by men then women at the gym I’m to worried about the jackass with his shades on sucking on a blow pop doing curls in the squat rack!

  143. ggs

    hey Bret you know I am a big fan of yours…I am grateful for all your insights, training tips and videos. It could be said that a lot of trainers do not even notice when their clients are even performing the exercise wrong..(I have seen that in my gym ) they are just there for the $..You on the other hand continually give out free information and well constructed program advice and videos…for FREE…For every one person who did not like this list there are many that did…So do not give it a second thought. Your blogposts are never based on a one time thing. You make sure it works before you pass it around….Oh yeah differences between men and women there are many and thankfully so…but for those who happen to prefer same sex relationships the difference between people is what makes life and relationships interesting. So lets thank God for all differences and similarities…And for strong curves…..

  144. Ren

    Hmmm…I have mixed feelings about this post. I recognize that Brett isn’t intending to make wide sweeping generalizations that would offend many, although that is what he is doing. But the thing to recognize is that a lot of these generalizations are made because they come from practices that can be seen in women in fitness but can we really attribute these behaviors to a person’s gender? No, we absolutely cannot at all.

    There are definitely inherent differences in male and female bodies but the idea that there are inherent differences in training styles and behaviors is a fallacy. That is not inherent at all, it is constructed and learned by society but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be unlearned.

    For example, observations from Brett such as women overvaluing the importance of cardio or being intimidated by weight training and thereby defaulting to cardio are results of the way in which women have been told to train, and by which women are told what is beautiful. If you pick up any regular magazine that is targeted towards women and it includes some sort of fitness component (it may even be a fitness magazine) you can be sure that the underlying tone of the magazine is to lose weight. Shed that last 10 pounds! Get into your bikini body! Etc etc, blah blah blah. You’d be hard pressed to find a fitness component in a women’s magazine that says something like “increase your number of pull ups”.

    So….women are told everyday that the pursuit of beauty doesn’t lie in strength, but it lies in being lean. So you have women who don’t want to get “too bulky” and they just want to get lean so that they have that trim body that is considered desirable. This is slowly changing of course, and the trend towards “strong is the new skinny” is becoming more and more popular. But it can’t be disputed that being thin is still the predominant standard of beauty in North America.

    My friend and I write a fitness blog from a feminist perspective and she actually touched on the whole ‘pink’ thing. I’m not sure about the culture of where Brett is training, but in the UK where she is located – she is hard pressed to find exercise clothing and accessories that AREN’T pink. So….when your choices are limited to traditionally “feminine” colour choices…your options are to either just wear the damn thing or somehow come up with exercise gear that isn’t pink, or purple, or what have you. At the end of the day…if all you’re concerned about is training…who has time to go and source non ‘feminine’ coloured exercise clothing. I really like the point that Brett makes about women not dressing to train for men, but rather dressing to feel confident and good about themselves which of course, is always a boon to training for anybody, women or otherwise.

    I don’t think Brett’s intentions are to be mysoginist, as evidenced by his disclaimer at the beginning of the article. The fact that he is concerned about coming off as offensive is evidence enough that sexism is not his intention. But unlearning sexist dialogue is difficult, it takes a lot of time and effort and so tragically, the article does come off sexist despite having some points that are very valid (the more technical points relating to body functions and not the over generalization of certain behaviors). I actually think Brett’s article is a good opportunity to take a deeper look at these observations of his and to understand WHY it is that there are a large number of women who do display certain behaviors. It all comes down to the way in which fitness and the industry has been constructed for women.

    I write this as somebody who works professionally as an acrobat. In our industry….gender lines do not exist past the character that you play on stage or the act that you specialize in. In training, men and women are expected to do the same exercises. To put it delicately, I also work at a gym and my boss, who happens to be a dude, a personal trainer, a former body builder and a martial arts champion and at above optimal health, could not execute exercises that I do in the circus. This is not to say that he wouldn’t be able to…given the proper amount of time and training he, just like anybody else, would be able to do the exercise. Likewise, generalizations like ‘women can’t do pull ups” are a fallacy…women can be trained to do pull ups…but it’s not generally a part of a woman’s training regime because we’re not really conditioned, from a young age, that that is an important part of our base level of fitness. (I realize that at no point did Brett ever say that women can’t do pull ups, but I am just echoing a popular stereotype that exists in the fitness industry).

    Brett, Your language could definitely use some cleaning up so that it doesn’t come off as sexist but I get that it’s not what you mean. Your observations, sadly, are valid a lot of the times but they are more of a commentary on the state of fitness for women rather than actual facts about women who train.

    – from someone who is a feminist and who trains their butt off and works in 2 industries that steeped in fitness and am speaking from her observations.

  145. Fluffy

    I think the big issue that is getting lost in all this, is why is there so much violence on “Basketball Wives”?



    1. Susan

      ^ I would imagine there’d be some funny, “sexist” things about men but you wouldn’t see them call the militia up in order to counter his “attacks.”

  146. Mike

    WOW, after reading all the comments, I came to the conclusion that everyone of you that had something negative to say should go look in the mirror, and slap the shit out of yourself lol. Everything Bret said was his personal observation, not some scientific discovery. To even comment and complain, is ridiculous, this list is funny and 90% true. So get over it.

  147. George

    Wow, Bret! If all publicity is good publicity you are set for a while. : )

    I actually read through all the comments so far. It is kind of like a car wreck. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t.

    I would have called this ‘120 Observations’ rather than tips if I was you, but due to the fact that I can actually read and and the fact that I chose to actually do so, I got that you were talking about some trends you see in your own clients. I also realize that it is a blog and not a thesis, which makes it a bit more conversational and a lot less precise due to it’s genre.

    I have been considering becoming a personal trainer after being a stay at home dad for the last 5 years. The research that I have done myself says that more women use personal trainers than men and it is nice to see what a guy who has worked with a lot of women clients sees as trends. I am betting that ACE certification doesn’t cover most of this. I am also guessing that I am more your intended audience than the folks who are ready to lynch you. So thanks again.

    I will also add myself to the list of the guys who totally LOVES that people CONSTANTLY make fun of men’s behavior in the gym and thinking in regards to fitness and nutrition. People regularly discuss men as both the full on retard bros and ‘I am afraid I will lose my skinny fat abs if I eat a carb and yet can’t understand why I have only added 10lbs to my squat per year’ dudes.

    Of course we’re all not like that (although I would bet that most of us have seen both groups thinking and actions in ourselves at times), but most of us don’t let that fact rob us of the humor and instruction to be found in statements that make negative generalizations (I don’t even thing that Bret’s ‘120’ were negative per se) about dudes at the the gym.

    Here’s a bit of free advice for oem of you ladies that are all so mad at that stupid, sexist pig, Bret:

    Stop letting taking the role of the victim all the time. Sure there are times when we all can be genuine victims, but even if Bret is the stupidest and most sexist piece of crap in the health and fitness world, he cannot hurt you. Nothing he can say can stop you from proving everything he says is wrong. He can’t keep you from training or wearing pink or wearing sweat pants and flannels or whatever the hell else you want to do in regards to this sort of stuff.

    If some jerk on the internet or some jerk in a gym can intimidate you into not training or being paranoid the whole time you’re doing it then maybe you should accept that the problem is with yourself. Get some theraphy or go into hiding. Most of it is likely in your head and none of it matters.

    Want to be a real feminist? Stop letting men define you and just do what you want in spite of their alleged perceptions. I would suggest even raising your standards higher and just stop worrying about how ANYONE who really has no more power than you give them are thinking about you.

    Sure. There may be cases where someone’s wrong opinion about you based upon a wrong generalization about gender, race, part of the country your from, religion, ect. might really have some potential to effect your life, but some dude blogging on the interwebz? Some guy with a mullet that curls in the squat rack and claims to read Playboy for the articles? If those guys can hold you back then maybe you aren’t worth the respect you feel so entitled to.

  148. Blake

    I’ll give the mens a shot.

    1) Men do not have any regard for clean equipment or the possibility of a staph infection.

    2a) Most young men believe that the squat rack is for conversations and curls

    2b)Most men believe that any program with fewer than 5 variations on curls is a complete waste of time “cuz da ladeez luvz da gunnz”

    3) Women might not wear tight clothes to the gym for men, but most men are in the gym for women.

    4) Sex takes up 90% of our thoughts during the day, and the prospect of getting more of it is a lot of men’s prime motivation for getting in the gym.

    5) If an attractive woman walks by and a man starts counting reps, he is lying.

    6) All men have gotten an erection, or at least a chubby, at the gym at some point. Not always from arousal (like when using the ill placed tricep pushdown with a view of the glorious backsides of the treadmill gazelles), but sometimes it just happens.

    7)Many men spend no less than $56 a day on pills and powders when there diet consists of ramen noodles, pop-tarts, and pizza pockets.

    8)Men are far more likely than women to fart during physical exertion or a trip to the water fountain following a perimeter check to make sure no one will hear.

    9)Most men hate cardio not because it is totally useless to them, but because they have Exercise ADD and no one exercise can be done in longer than 2 minute bursts.

    10) Men do not appreciate squat form correction because if they have to go down further than their usual quarter squat then you are taking pounds off the bar and therefore the new way sucks.

    11) Men learn that Bad Form=More Weight=Pure Awesomeness as soon as they leave the supervision of their highschool strength coach.

    12)Most men beleive that putting up weights when finished with them is a waste of their energy that could better be spent on 3 angles of cable crossovers.

    13)Men wear flip flops into the gym because they think it makes their bird legs look bigger when they are not stuck up like toothpicks out of their shoes.

    14)Men beleive that the workout week should be divided into 5 day upper body with 1 optional lower body day split.

    15) When men say that they are “form checking” themselves in the mirror they are actually just admiring how good their muscle’s look mid rep.

    16) If a pretty girl walks through a man’s mirror view in the bottom of the squat, serious injury is imminent.

    1. Derrick Blanton

      This is some good shit right here.

      Of course this will undoubtably provoke a HUGE backlash that will sweep the internet, and arouse the righteous indignation of male weight trainers across the globe.

      (On the other hand, maybe they’ll just laugh, and go, “Yup!” )

  149. Brooke

    Bret, this weird list of random observations (not really “tips”) leaves me puzzled about one thing: If you have so much disdain for women, why do you even work for them? Surely you could be successful working for men only, and you’d be doing your women clients a favor as perhaps they would learn to hire someone who doesn’t inherently dislike them.

      1. Brooke

        Claire, I am not “from Jezebel”, I’m not sure who you think I am but I don’t know anyone named Claire. I am a personal trainer in Texas.

  150. Frank N

    Seriously, how butt sore are some of you women gonna get over an ONLINE article… that fact in and of itself shows your character flaws that such an inconsequential posting of a website can run you wanker women off your rockers because of your mental enslavment to your “feeling’s.. to that I say F–k your feelings, get over yourself and grow a metaphorical pair, sometimes the truth is a hard pill to swallow but the only thing most of you women do well when not wasting your s.o.’s money and divorcing beta chump husbands to steal 1/2 of their assets is suck donkey d—k, go back to what you do best ya f–ktard whores!

    1. A woman

      Ummm… You are being highly rude over inconsequential COMMENTS about an inconsequential article on the internet.

      Oh, sorry, my estrogen just made me irrationally capitalize a word. I must be about to have my period, thus I am speaking so rudely and using emotions. Where are the Kleenex and tampons???

      By the way, a dumbass such as yourself may not be able to understand this without some assistance: I am being sincere in the first sentence. I am being sarcastic thereafter. This minuscule paragraph is again serious.

    2. mack

      Frank N.
      Seems as if your butt is sore, and I also wanted to mention “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak, sensitive and a single little flick of a woman’s pinky will bring you to your knees. If you want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” Not quoted exactly as first heard by Sheng Weng, but you get the idea. I thought the article was an honest representation of what Bret saw at the gym as he noted at the start, nothing wrong with noting your observations. It was comical at times, as most comedians will tell you their best stuff comes from real life ; ) (P.S. whoever she was, I am sorry for your loss)

  151. Auntie

    Just for fun (and in the spirit of peace), here are a few of my personal observations — NOT TIPS — on Strength Training for Men and Women:

    a. What I typically see in the gym is: Women selecting weights which seem far too light to do them any good (Eg. slow controlled biceps curls using the pink 2 lbs dumbbells). I almost NEVER see the guys do that. Not a week goes by that I don’t see some skinny “untrained” guy select 35 lbs dumbbells and try to do biceps curls with them. The thing which I take away from this is that the average skinny guy will struggle to do maybe 2 or 3 reps in horrible form (at 25 percent of the ROM), and then he’s done. Both the man and the woman are wasting their time. But in different ways which can usually be attributed to the differences between the typical package of misconceptions/ basic knowledge attributed to a people of their gender.

    b. My arms are unusually strong for a woman of my build, and I’ve noticed that skinny “untrained” men who are using the other pulley of the same cable machine to do their triceps push downs will glance at the weight I am using for my push downs. And more often than not, they will select DOUBLE that weight for their first set! Ha ha.

    c. Same situation, another example: Seriously. I am not a trainer but this very fit young guy in the gym asked me to teach him how to do strength training properly. Ouf. I’ll never forget the first time we trained legs:
    i. To be fair to him, I need to mention that he is from a very poor country and he had never seen a leg extension machine before. In fact, according to him, this was his first time in a gym which had airconditioning. I don’t find those leg extension machines particularly useful for myself, but this happened to be on the list of exercises for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s break-in programme, which I had decided to use rather than making that poor young guy pay for my ignorance if I tried to design his programme myself. Okay. I knew that his leg strength was lagging badly behind his upper body strength, and that his legs weren’t even as strong as mine. Heck, going by size alone, at that point in time my “leg muscle circumference” was still bigger than his. So I demonstrated leg extensions using a weight that was maybe 80 percent of what I thought I could comfortably handle. Young guy thanks me, takes my place in the machine, and dials the weight up 50 percent. Again, ha ha. Eventually we discovered he could really only lift maybe 80 percent of what I had set with as the starting weight. The same thing happened with the calves raises machine. Not wishing to make the same mistake twice and bruise his ego unnecessarily, I demonstrated with a really low starting weight. It was still too much for him!
    ii. This is of course mostly a reflection of the men’s lack of experience in selecting weights for themselves in the gym—the keyword is “untrained”, not “skinny”—, but I think it is also a fair reflection of the kinds of delusional prejudices which guys (even untrained, skinny guys) can have concerning the relative strength of women. These real-life experiences remind me that the “relative strength distortions” apply to both genders. He grossly under-estimated my strength, and—in hindsight—I gross OVER-estimated his strength relative to mine. I treat this as a valuable lesson for me. Nothing to do with my self-esteem as a woman.

    d. Men typically LOVE T-bar rowing a lot more than however much they might happen to love classic barbell rowing. Why? Because in T-bar rowing, your torso is fully supported. So as long as your arms and upper back are strong enough, you can probably load up with more ego-boosting weight than you would be able to handle with barbell rowing (where a lack of core strength would tend limit your ability to row in good form).

    e. Regardless of some women’s perceptions that they are patronized and underestimated by men in the gym, I have to say that I’ve benefitted enormously from the men in the gym. Either by watching them and learning, or even by receiving unsolicited (immensely valuable) tips and insights from a few veteran lifters who were unfailingly tactful and even respectful in every way. The less experienced male lifters at the gym tend to leave me to my own business; I am not ruffled at all by the very few “untrained” male lifters who have offered me unolicited advice which was plainly silly, because I know their hearts were in the right place. They weren’t disrespecting me for being a woman, so much as they were trying to find a way to break the ice and treat me as “one of the boys” (only their information was bad!). Most of these guys have become my “gym friends” and the mutual respect between us has grown nicely as we’ve been learning more and more useful stuff.

    f. Sadly, I haven’t been offered any advice yet from other women in the gym, trained or untrained. I think that ONE woman has advised me to up my reps to “at least twenty reps” per set. Another woman asked me about my nutrition but it took me only a few minutes to realize that she only wanted to see how I measured up to her in terms of “fish consumption” (a clear win for her!). But that’s about it. I suspect that this is because most of the other women in the gym think I’m weird for doing the programmes that I do. There is so little common ground. That said, my trainer (he is a man) trains his other female clients in the same way that he trains me, so there is a small group of “insiders” of my gender who share my values. One of these is a petite silvery-haired Indian lady who is so traditional that she wears a sari to the gym and changes into her gym pants only in the locker room. We trade many meaningful glances and looks; it’s a form of solidarity!

    g. Whatever the reasons (Eg. “brainwashed by society” or “handicapped by gender”… all that is irrelevant to me), I do get the sense that “ego lifting” is more a male thing than something which you might see often enough in women to warrant its being considered a “woman thing”.

    ((((( HUGS )))))


  152. Auntie

    P/s: I did ask myself whether — with regard to my point (f) above — maybe I am a bit less willing to give due weight to advice when it is coming to me from another woman, rather than a man. And my answer was: “I’m quite sure that I’m not. But I can’t be absolutely sure, of course.”

    Like Bret Contreras, my trainer may have very well-defined views regarding his approach to training clients, but he trains every one of his clients as an individual.

    For example, take that stereotype being debated in various comments above, in the vein of: (i) men don’t know how to appreciate cardio; and (ii) women are maybe too fixated on cardio.

    Well, there is some truth in every stereotype. That’s why it stings! And also why it can make us laugh, provided we know how to laugh at ourselves…


    But on Fridays I have my regular personal training just after one of his male clients. My trainer makes this male client do tons of cardio (on the machines, along with the women). But he makes me — a woman — do everything BUT cardio.

    In each case, the training programme reflects the individual client’s physical condition, their “constitution”/ “genetics”, and of course, also their physique goals.

    Eg. I love lifting enough — and have enough of an ego — to be chasing down personal records all the time. I get teased (and sometimes, scolded) by my trainer for liking to do an “arms day” once in a while, just (i) for the fun of it; and also (ii) because I love to experiment with making small purposeful changes to my routine which make the muscles look different.

    But this male client is not interested in bodybuilding; he just wants to keep off the 25 or so kg he lost after my trainer took him on. I suspect that he lifts only because our trainer feels strongly that gaining muscle is a key part of the strategy for managing weight.

    I really appreciate the fact that my trainer can see these male/female patterns of behaviour but he does not make assumptions as to our needs and abilities only on the basis of our gender.

    I was one of those women newbies who — initially — wouldn’t take his advice to try stopping the cardio, was under-eating, and was afraid of “getting bulky”. Well, that was me then.

    Today, I am a different “me”. But the me of TODAY still respects and loves that old “me”; she is me, after all, and I would never swing to the extreme of despising or disrespecting her (or any woman) for the things she held so dear to her Auntie Heart. Heck, I’m still learning… still doing silly things.. but also, still improving all the time.


  153. LindaP.

    Thanks for that list, pretty useful!!

    One question
    You say that “Women have much better stamina than men in terms of training density at higher intensities – they don’t require as much intra-set rest time as men”
    What do you think its the ideal rest time for women? I am trying to eradicate fat and slim my figure

    Thanks in advance

  154. Leah

    Sooooo comment 372…I’m a women and I love going to the gym to check out guys…I know this is shocking and somewhat sexist, but whilst I lift weights with correct technique and awesome form, all that’s going through my head is “I hope my perving isn’t obvious”!
    Please can your next article include tips on how I can look sexier lifting weights, currently all I manage is a mix of sweat drenched chic with dishevelled hair!
    The above comments were very entertaining lol…btw I am a BIG fan and love your work :-)

  155. Angela

    Dear Bret,

    I read you ‘ 120 Tips on Strength Training for Women’, which, may I suggest, should be more accurately entitled ‘120 observations about some of the women I train in the gym’, with amusement. I assume that your intention was sincere and your observations, although at times misogynist, are what you have experienced, which is all well and good.

    My challenge is that I’m struggling to see how quite a few of your comments can be classified at ‘tips’ especially tips on strength training.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary – a tip (as used in your title) is a useful hint or idea; a basic, practical fact.

    Can you please explain how this observation is a tip for strength training, or indeed fact?

    – Most women have well-intentioned male friends who give them horrendous advice pertaining to their goals.

    Or perhaps this one.

    – Women often bring drama to the gym and have more trouble detaching from everyday life-struggles when training

    Or maybe this one.

    – Some women giggle when they’re struggling with exercise form or when pushing a set near failure – men don’t do this

    And this one:

    – Women are more gullible and prone to gimmicks and fads in regards to exercise and fitness”

    Once you have explained how the above statements and many others you have made in the list have a direct correlation to strength training, I may take your article seriously.

    I look forward to your thoughts.

    Sincere regards,

  156. Gwen

    This is my first time reading this site, so I don’t know anything about you, Bret, other than what I’ve learned from this list.

    Others have already explained why this list is offensive, so I’ll just point out two things to you (if you’re still reading comments here):

    1. It’s problematic, in general, to ascribe traits to “women” because we aren’t all the same. When men act as if women are all the same, they come off as sexist assholes.

    If you’d written a post called “A Certain Type of Annoying Female Client I Come Across” and put all your criticisms from this list into that post, it would’ve been fine and more helpful to everyone. We could have laughed at it, even if a few of the items applied to us. But, instead, you pulled every single annoying trait from your annoying female clients and attributed them to all women.

    Some of your sexist male readers here are claiming that people make fun of male lifters all the time. And they do, but they make fun of subsets of male readers, such as noobs or curlbros or whatever. People don’t generally think of “men” as having all the same annoying traits, unless they hate men. Right?

    2. You should think about the kind of clientele that you attract with your attitude. It seems to me from your criticisms of female behavior that you attract dumb, shallow, immature female clients. Do you find that to be the case? If so, is it because all females who exercise are dumb, shallow, and immature? Or does that only describe the ones who stick with you as their trainer?

    If you came off as patronizing in this list, where I can’t even see your face or hear your voice, how patronizing do you come off in real life? If you come off here as obsessed with women’s looks, do you seem that way in real life, too? If so, what kind of women are attracted to working with someone like you? Women who are obsessed with their looks, who like whining at men for attention, who read stupid magazines, maybe? And what kind of women are avoiding you — picking another male trainer, instead?

  157. Me

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My biceps popped out after just a month of training. Gotta be careful asking about it…people can be so adamant / angry about it not being possible for women to get too big.

    Also, about the hanging leg coregasms or the back extension ones …I gotta wonder if they’re experiencing just a sensation / good feeling and not a genuine one. A real one…surely would make you fall off the bar…there’s no way there would be only a little wiggling around between the next exercise and coregasm…unless people experience hugely differing degrees of intensity…in which case it sucks for them since that’s pretty weak. If it was a real one, I don’t see how they could recover and do a workout…it would take at least minimum 5-10 min if I could even do it at all afterwards. Sorta the same subject: Don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but the machine that works the outer thigh up to the glutes…either the adductor or abductor…I forget which….after pushing it on that machine, my legs feel like they do right after a good “romp.”

    PS Loving your glute book, btw.

  158. Ripped Chick who Hates Pink

    My new goal is to get hella ripped (yo) and “create drama” in your gym by clapping chalk all over his face before kicking your giant gluteus maximus. Where the fuck do you work? LA? Somewhere with a ton of superficial women with boob jobs and an interest in looking as sexy as possible, apparently. Most women are not like this–though of course I’m relying on anecdotal evidence rather than “the literature” (I like how you never cite your sources). And women “grunt sexually” and get “coregasms” while they work out? You are a total creep. I think if you got laid a little more often you probably wouldn’t fantasize about your clients, but I’d imagine most women can’t stand your attitude. This is disgusting.

    And for the record, I get excited (NOT sexually, mind you) when I do 100 push-ups. And I don’t chat while I do them.

    Go to hell.

  159. Brian

    Bret, you’re a very unintelligent man. I am so sorry that someone in your position felt compelled to publish a list that has some really good points but is so saturated with sexist drivel that reading all the pointers becomes an excruciating exercise! I’m a man so I got through it but I’d be surprised if any woman had the dexterity and stamina to. The funny thing is that while I embarked on my road to fitness, what I found was men who were only interested in working out beach muscles and had the cardiovascular endurance of a sloth. I wanted to have a balanced body. I cared about form when lifting, going for the slow burn and not taking shortcuts by using momentum to get through my reps. Also, because my interest in the gym is getting a good workout in rather than posing, flexing, and being overtly concerned about what women are doing while working out, I never took the time out to give a rats ass that some of their workout apparel had colors like pink in them. Don’t these wretched wenches know that wearing pink is a leading cause of bad form and prevents women from attaining actual results in the gym? I can take your word for it that when a woman grunts it’s sexual sounds and has nothing to do with the fact that you are a man whose dick serves as the prism that his mind takes in information and processes it through! I’ve never heard such grunts but I am not sex-minded when I am busy trying to get a workout in.

  160. siloparek

    ^^ I’m seconding the above opinion. I couldn’t even finish reading this crap because of all the sexist assumptions (you call them observations, I see) about women who work out. Maybe your clientele are pampered, delicate sex objects, but actual women who train can keep up with them men just fine, no problems.

    The whining, complaining and giggling??? Oh come on. I’m at the gym 5 days a week at least. I don’t see women giggling all over the place as we lift. It’s not a high school locker room. Sorry to burst your fantasy.

    And I have never ONCE had a “coregasm.” Are you clients hitting on you? Are you hitting on them? Ridiculous…

  161. ally

    Observations not tips. I came here thinking I was going to get 120 on how to get stronger…not have my outfit critiqued.

    You need to work on your writing, many people above me have written some excellent tips on how to improve this article. Read and take it as constructive critism…like I will take some of your observations as constructive.

    Link your sources. I actually want to read them. No point finding them, then not sharing with those of us who want to learn.

    Can’t wait for the mens version (I would be pretty unfair if you only did a womens). Maybe you can explain why I only ever see men (not women) in the squat racks doing curls. Or why they take their shirts off halfway though a workout. Or the fact have seen more men fix their hair between sets then women. Or why they load up the bar and then only do half squats, or half bench presses…

  162. Rosa

    Very insightful! Thank you! I’ve been getting into your articles and find them very helpful, especially since I’m a beginner and trying to get started on strength training from home. Some of these observations made me laugh. Men and women are certainly different breeds.

  163. rose

    you guys are overeacting . Just Chill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The author has not generalised women here . some observations are quite true. and i dont think this is an attempt to make women look dumb. I personally feel we should have a good sense of humour to acknowldge and laugh at our selves at times. Men too have a lot of things worth laughing at. Some woman may come up with her observations some day may be.

  164. Aileen

    I found myself giggling a little while reading. And when you were talking about not dressing nicely for men, it’s true, it’s mostly for other women. It’s like a luon fashion show! I am worried, however, now about getting huge quads after reading that comment. How is that avoidable!?

  165. Dave Madarro

    Some of you women need to get over yourself, I don’t wonder why Bret didn’t even bother replying to all your nonsense.

    I read his list out of curiosity and not once did it make me think that Bret Contreas is trying to put women down.

    Bret said that it’s based on personal observations and this info won’t hold true for everybody, how is that so difficult to comprehend?

    Some people are just bored to death and are looking to stir shit up, and throw the “sexist card” around, because it’s so easy to do. Get a fucking life.

  166. misha donaldson

    wow, a nice list of observations and tips. This is probably the most comprehensive list on this topic I have ever seen. I agree with many points. But, some are probably not true for all people. Anyway, thanks for sharing this and opening my eyes to some of my own shortcomings. :-)

  167. suecoolio

    People do need to chilllll out! I am fairly new at strength training, Bret gives great articles and great advice, alot of the time for FREE!
    I”m learning alot from his and Kelly’s book and from articles.
    Many things on the list may be trivial but they are his observations. And while most women complaining about his sexist points may have total confidence and are there to work out and don’t care what they wear etc, the fact is that is how society has raised girls. They are not introduced to working out, or that muscles are important, they are taught to be nice and don’t insult, be pretty , wear pink, and blah blah blah. It’s still happening today, kids are not raised the same, there are still huge differences in the approaches to girls and boys. As an educator for preschoolers, I am trying to do my part in telling them all they can do whatever they want and the boys don’t need to run and the girls don’t need to be nice and color with pink and purple. A great example of the changes that need to happen are in the book Lean In. We all need to lean in, and I think Bret’s observations are true. Woman ,in general, are obsessed with how they look, how they feel and others and mostly how other think they look and feel and what’s their personality, if she’s bold and says it like it is, then she’s bossy.
    We need change that it!
    But I would like to know how Bret got his evidence for #18, did his clients have these conversations! ha ha.
    Thanks Bret for just saying it like it is, maybe some women might make changes to there is more equal observances.

  168. Shane

    This taught me a lot about women and training – thank you Bret.
    It also taught me a lot about writing and communication – thank you Jen.

  169. Ashley

    I enjoyed the article. If you observed it, you observed it. I had a random trainer stop me in the gym today to correct me on numerous weight lifting mistakes (mostly form). I can say that it is very intimidating to lift weights and I feel everyone stares at me but I do it anyways. Im not matchy matchy but some of my workout shorts are the tight and the short kind. I agree that im not looking for male attention but to feel good for personal reasons. I do wear gloves if I don’t forget them bc I prefer to not have calluses especially with my professional life (shaking hands constantly). There were a lot of observations that do not apply to me at all yet I could name someone I know for a lot of the observations. I don’t take offense. It is what it is. I’ve been running marathons or training for them the last couple years and haven’t done much in the weight lifting department. Now that im done with the marathons (at least for a few years) ive started weight training and im a definite beginner. I loved the article! Thanks!

  170. Steve

    I got to the gym a lot and see that almost all the points you made are valid. Please don’t let Jezebel or some other feminists and apologists take you down. As they say in the gym…MAN UP! :)

  171. Andrey

    Bret, hello!
    I’m translating your article into Russian and only have one ‘tip’ that I cannot translate, the one about being a lifter rather then being a student of weightlifting (#14). Could you explain it to me a little bit further? Thanks in advance! Looking forward for your answer.

  172. Hailey

    As a female, I’d agree with what he says for the most part. But, as a matter of fact, there are MANY female points I don’t partake in, for example..

    I wear old garb to the gym, holy shirts and stained up sweats (who gives a crap, you’re going to sweat anyway), love my DMX, (even screamo), don’t like to gab, get ANNOYED when someone says I’m ‘toned,’ or ‘lean’ (would rather hear built, swole, solid, muscular), eat meat and carbs like there’s no tomorrow, focus on the job at hand and intently think about my next set, and INSPECT ingredient lists’ at all times.

    Things I partake in? I don’t like to look at myself in the gym mirror. At all. When I first joined a gym, I had no idea what the heck was going on and had to be shown (who didn’t). And sometimes, if my shirt fits overly tight (regular Tshirt, though) I’ll feel like I dressed too sexy- and when I feel too feminine at the gym I almost feel like I might as well venture into the cardio room and run on the treadmill for an hour, because everyone knows that when the girl with the pink yoga pants and matching pink nikes walks in the door, she’ll soon be making a beeline for the cardio room. (haha jk)

    Even though I don’t partake in many of Bret’s points, I can absolutely understand where he’s coming from, because as a female who shares a gym with other females, I’d say at LEAST 80% of them exhibit those characteristics and behaviors. Easily.

  173. Susy Natal

    Some of these observations are great – others I find tactless. I am uncomfortable with some of these observations, but before I am accused of being overly sensitive etc., please bear in mind that I am going to set all personal opinions as a woman aside here and speak as a person who has written for and has a background in research. So please ignore my gender and pay attention to my argument. Also please note that I have much respect for Bret and his research – this is not a personal attack, but rather an assessment of this article. I have attempted to be as objective as possible.

    As I already mentioned, there are many observations in here that I find truly useful and insightful. Unfortunately, this is clouded by some observations that I really did feel ought to be revised. I will only give two examples to explain what I mean.

    Some of these statements are irrelevant and unhelpful. If there is going to be a statement relating to any group of people that sets them apart in a manner that critiques them, please make it useful information so that something may be learned from having read said statement. Here are two that particularly stood out to me – and why I feel that the message was lost and how this could be improved upon. In here there is also a pretty clear note on why this article has offended many, and why I think that it is actually important to pay attention to this.

    “71. Some women seem impossible with their complaints; for example one day they’re worried about getting too bulky and the next day they’re upset that they lost muscle size somewhere.”

    OK – so? Could this be due to hormonal changes throughout the cycle? Or something else? If so, what can we take away from this observation? How can trainers overcome this? Standing alone, this does not serve any purpose other than to present an opportunity for some women to feel targeted. I understand this was not the intention, but I think that this observation was carelessly presented. I do not see any possible methods for overcoming such an obstacle, or even any anecdotes on how this obstacle has been overcome by the author in the past, therefore I question its utility.


    “65. Some women make sexual-sounding grunts when lifting; men grunt but it doesn’t sound sexual.”

    I simply don’t understand why this is here. (Also I disagree on this matter – I have heard men make sounds that raise eyebrows just as often, but I digress…). I see no importance in bringing this up, unless you have something more to add over and beyond merely noting it. For example, if a friend of mine – male or female – is accidentally making such sounds I will alert them to it if I notice that they are drawing attention to themselves (discreetly of course, as the goal is to help them stop drawing unwanted attention to themselves to prevent embarrassment – tact is necessary here). But to just mention the sound and leave it as that – I find this strange, irrelevant and frankly, disappointing.

    I read a lot of articles from this site, and usually send people to it to read but frankly this article made me uncomfortable. I do not believe that this was intended to offend (yes, I did read the disclaimer at the start) but as I already stated, I believe that this was in places carelessly written and with little thought regarding WHY some of these observations should be here. Finally – there are many ways to skin a cat, and there were probably much more tactful ways in which some of these observations could have been presented to prevent any offence. Yes some people are more sensitive than others, but it doesn’t hurt to try to take the feelings of others into account when one is writing for the general public. Researchers, like any other writers, can and should take responsibility to present their arguments in an objective manner, and this does include presenting information in an appropriate manner for the full intended audience.

    It would be great to see a revision of this article with a little more thought taken into the utility of each observation, so that those which may potentially be seen as a criticism actually have a take-home message that women may benefit from and learn something useful from for their self improvement. I’m positive that even with this revision there would still be people who would find this offensive – there will always be naysayers and you can never please everybody, but I simply think that the presentation of some observations could have been handled much more appropriately.

  174. Brian

    I don’t think you meant anything mean by this but did you re-read it before posting? There are a lot of interesting points in here that male trainers should be aware of when working with female clients but they get lost in the inane/sexist/misogynistic observations.

    “Women like different music than men.” There’s a shocker.

    “Men don’t giggle when hitting failure” I’m a man and I do that.

    And btw the sounds men make in the gym are the same ones they make in the bedroom.

    I couldn’t get through the whole thing but those were my observations. Gotta say I lost a little bit of respect for you after reading this.

  175. Vivian Hylkema

    Hi Bret,

    I am an avid weightlifter/past competitor of womens body building and personal trainer and I loved reading this article! I must admit I had to laugh alot not at what you wrote but that I recognized pretty much all you said concerning your observations. Maybe a good idea for me to look into writing the same on my observations of training men. LOL!
    So thanks for your observations and sharing them! loved it!

  176. Karina Kumari

    Now that was a fun read! Thanks for taking the time to share it. Your observations about women in training are so spot on. At different sections, I recalled women who work out at my gym… and I can’t wait to tell them about your post tomorrow 😉

  177. Mischa Donald

    Enjoyed it. Very informative – and at times funny – read. Hadn’t heard of the “coregasms” before, though. Or that there are such things as “inconvenient orgasms” 😉

  178. Cara

    Hi, I am a relative newbie to training with weights – and found this “tips” list, while looking for tips on getting acquainted with the gym.
    It seems a lot more observations than tips really, but some are quite funny –
    and a good percent I would have made the opposite observation!
    I guess it is in the eyes of the beholder?
    Anyways, can’t resist to add another posting to the list.
    a couple of contraries and observations that stood out to me –
    – i get guys asking me all the time if I am vegetarian and if I do yoga (no and I don’t) but women rarely ask me this – I guess it is a perception thing.
    – i noticed waaay more men in the gym sitting around on the benches texting, chatting or reading on their phones while blocking the weights area while women seemed to be much more conscious about sharing the space and finishing their workout routine. except for in the yoga room, then it is the opposite.
    -yes, as a woman, I definitely check out the guys at the gym lol
    and from the list
    – #1 I hear more guys complaining about pain than women complaining about pain – but maybe they get hurt more? who knows.
    -#11 Sadly, I am not a giggler. never have been :(
    #18 women have hip mobility / pelvic control inherently so that we can potentially have babies, not really because we have sex in certain positions.
    #23 yes thats me
    #28 – some cliche observations about menstrual cycles, but then women are just as guilty of that as men are – it is partially taught behavior. In the exercise arena I would think that you would notice more how hormones affect flexibility, strength, and stamina (they do) than mood, self esteem and “feelings” and men can be just as “moody” or “bitchy” at times.
    #36 – women like pink workout gear? seriously? some do, but many don’t. I would say I am very feminine and I never went for pink, always thought pink was a masculine color really. But – have you ever been in the women’s department at any athletic store? pink, turquoise, fuschia, and gazillions of tights! I went to three major athletic stores plus two yoga stores and the gap – and could not find one single pair of plain black sweatpants! hello. why is that? someone pleeease tell marketing to stop that.
    #38 – wooah there. I would say from personal experience – women are most definately as natural as men with using machinery and apparati – but – as caveat many women are indeed less experienced with these maybe due to social constructs and many have been actively discouraged as girls from “playing” with tools, from building stuff, etc – but the natural ability is quite there, from personal experience and observation.
    #41 – is it intimidating (the weight section of the gym?) for me, Yes. Why? because i felt like it was designed for larger people than me and I didnt want to get hurt. As a beginner, the bars alone are 45 lbs and the weights in most gyms go up in minimum of 5 lb increments – weighing in at 100 lbs it can be a little discouraging to figure out how to get started and not feel like you are just going to tip over or something. 50 lbs – that is half your bodyweight already! Plus – the seats, heights of the machines, etc are made for larger bodies as well so it takes some adjusting.
    #64 most women (that I know) prefer researching well, and look to medical or scientific journals for more accurate sources of information.
    #70 yes, clothing is tricky to get something to fit and not need adjusting. half of women’s workout gear is unfortunately designed to cling, go up your ass, or press your breasts into some new shape. That can get weird when you are working out and moving your body around, sorry for the tmi. as i said in number 36…
    and lastly – food.
    Yes, plenty of women crave meat and eggs. I’ve known just as many vegan men who say they don’t crave meat at all. I’ve always noticed that more men are vegetarian than women, for longer periods of time in their lives – maybe because they crave / need less iron? It’s possible.
    Anyways – I enjoy reading your articles and website – and would love some more tips on stuff like how not to lose good form as you start to get tired out, how to set up to do hip thrusts at the gym (that is not set up for doing them), how to best use machines and weights that are scaled up in proportion to your body size, and honestly – how to avoid oversexualizing – for example you say that more women try to spot train and don’t focus enough on being a student of weighlifting and maybe don’t exercise to the best of their whole bodies – but then at the same time most of the focus with women and exercise is put on visual appearances – how you look in a really microscopic way (i.e. what your booty looks like etc). instead of on how strong you are getting and how balanced you are. Yeah, I know it holds the interest and gaze longer and it can be fun for a bit, but – hey, it is also not really why I work out.

  179. Erin Deutsch

    The negative comments are baffling me, but also entertaining me! Wow how silly and even uneducated it makes their authors seem. I guess if you have not read much of Bret Contreras’ other articles the lack of citation may be of concern, however, if you had even a remote amount of previous encounters with his knowledge then you would know he was not just making shots in the dark here. Love all the well researched info you so freely provide Bret! This article was great for my own personal training assessment as well as helping me put some things into words for which I previously couldn’t describe! And last but not least.. Thank you for salvaging my glutes!!! :)

  180. Minnie Miller

    Arguably, the comments are more illustrative than the excellent post itself. I learned a lot about strength training from Bret’s post – and a lot more about human nature from the discussion that follows (and oh, what a long and passionate discussion it has been!) My 2 cents? Stereotyping is inevitable, to an extent, in any such report – but I certainly didn’t see it going overboard in any sense. A few areas of disagreement makes for good debate and argument, anyways, eh? :)

  181. Nicole

    Clapping chalk because they saw a gymnast do it?! Dude, I was a gymnast and then coached for 20 years. I spent more time telling kids not to clap chalk because it wasted chalk and made a mess. If they make it to team, they know better and they even hate it when class kids break up the blocks because you can’t chalk your grips or the bar properly. On a side note, I love my calluses. I’m almost 42 and I’ve had them most of my life between gymnastics and lifting. I can’t imagine not having them.

  182. Nuri

    I let out a good laugh when I read this. It’s like as if someone was observing the way I behave in the gym. Most are spot on, at least, in reference to me. It was an entertaining read :)


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