In Part 4 of the interview I did for Craig Ballantyne last month we discuss training females and a few random business tips for trainers and strength coaches.
Craig Ballantyne: Let’s transition back into some training stuff. Now, your gym isn’t just for guys, right? There are girls that train there also, correct?
Jason Ferruggia: There are a few girls, but that’s not my focus or main specialty. My first priority and focus is getting guys bigger, stronger and faster and just improving their overall performance. That is my true passion. We really only try to appeal to males and any marketing we may do is always done with guys in mind. But if high school or college female athletes want to come in and train for improved performance, and they can hang, they are more than welcome. In fact, they often earn a lot of respect from the guys when they do.
In our old gym we had only one female athlete in more than a dozen years, that was able to hang and actually made it more than three months. She went on to have great success. Others came and went but none made it more than three months.
Right now, in our new location, we have three high school female athletes who are doing a great job and are an absolute pleasure to train. Although, truth be told, it’s apples to oranges because the scene during the high school training time is far less intimidating now than it used to be. We had quite a few more lunatics back in the day. Those kids seem to be fewer and far between these days, which is a shame and a whole other topic for another day.
As far as female non-athletes go we have three to five of them right now who are able to hang with the guys and get in on our workouts. And that’s three to five more than I ever thought I’d have. Again, because of the way we train, what we train for, the music and the atmosphere; it’s not really a place where most girls would want to be or would feel comfortable. So I don’t expect a lot of them to want to join the gym. Nor do I do anything to entice them to do so. It’s just not my thing.
The girls that I mentioned, that we have now, can all do at least five chin ups, some can do ten or more; they can all pull over 225 and squat around 185. So they have all gotten outstanding results and continue to make great progress.
I know some of the hardcore females might be offended by me saying this but most average women do not want to train with 15 guys in a 90 degree gym while listening to Deftones and Ice Cube and pull max deadlifts or clean and press a log. Dem’s just da facts. When you find one that does, though, I highly suggest slipping a ring on her finger.
And if a female comes in looking for fat loss she’s definitely in the wrong place. That’s not what we do.
Or like Frank Rizzo said, “I don’t do dat, baby!”
It aint Jenny Craig or Curves. We train to get bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic. Fat loss is a goal that bores me to tears. It’s very unappealing to me to train someone solely for the goal of losing fat. I refuse to do it. The weight room is a place to get strong. You lose fat with proper diet and a lot of sprinting.
It’s not worth wasting strength training sessions when all you have to do is learn the most effective fat loss exercise there is and practice it regularly…
Pushaways. Push your fat ass away from the dinner table.
No matter who the client is I never change the training when it comes to fat loss. We simply change the diet and add in more sprint work and the like.
So if a girl hires me she can expect to be doing box jumps, chins, farmers walks and Olympic lift variations just like the guys. I may let her skip the neck harness, however. A girl with a neck like Stone Cold is never a great look.
If a girl can do all that stuff, is very athletic and in shape, can do at least five chin ups, jump onto a 36 inch box, squat 135 or so, then I have absolutely no problem working with her. Of course, I would prefer if she were an athlete. I would also prefer if she looked like Jamie Eason and was training for the lingerie bowl.
But like I said, everyone trains like an athlete at my gym anyway. Now obviously those prerequisites eliminate 90 percent of the population of females, but like every business book and business expert on the planet recommends- you have to do one thing and one thing only, to be successful in life. You can’t specialize in everything. You can’t be the master of everything. You have to do one thing, really well. I have chosen to do what I do because I love it. I can’t compromise.
I know a lot of trainers or coaches might be listening and read my site quite a bit, and the best business advice I can give you is to specialize in one thing. No one ever remembers the guy who does rehab, runs bootcamps, trains people for lacrosse, trains six year olds, trains old ladies and is an expert at pre and post natal training. Choose one thing and specialize on it.
Get really, really good at it and make it your focus.
For me, it’s turning average athletes and former athletes into beasts. That’s what I love to do. The thought of working with any other population makes me miserable.
For you it may be postural alignment or housewives. Whatever it is that you love to do. When you do what you love your whole life will be more enjoyable and you will be more successful. Don’t take on clients just for the sake of making more money and don’t train people for something you don’t enjoy. And never work with a client who you really don’t like working with. Take it from someone who knows from experience; that shit will make your life miserable and will have a huge negative impact on your business.
This means turning down more people than you accept and only training clients you will enjoy training and who will be a walking billboard for your company. Before accepting someone into your facility think to yourself, “Would I be proud or embarrassed to have this person wearing one of my t-shirts around town?”
Craig Ballantyne: Cool. Could you just give some quick tips on training females that you have found to be most effective? Are there any differences between the sexes in your opinion?
Jason Ferruggia: The differences are minimal but there are a few.
• Females require less rest between sets. This is simply because they weigh less and are weaker. It’s no different than a 135 pound guy who squats 185 needing less rest than a 250 pound guy who squats 550.
• They require less rest between workouts. In other words they recover faster.
• They seem to excel on full body workouts. Males can get away with upper/lower splits but for females it’s usually a waste of time.
That’s really about it. Other than that I recommend that they train just like guys. Do mobility work regularly, start workouts with explosive stuff like jumps and throws, do maximal strength work, use bodyweight assistance exercises and get good at controlling your body and moving it through space effectively. And stay the hell of the machines. Sprint two to three times per week and you’ll wonder why you ever wasted a second on the stairmaster.
One last story here to emphasize my point about training for strength- I knew a powerlifter years ago whose wife wanted to get in shape. She was probably about 38 at the time. Instead of designing some clown workout for her he said, “Ok, we’re gonna get your bench up to 135, your squat to 225 and your deadlift to 315. When you hit those numbers you’ll be in better shape than you ever dreamed of.” Some people, including his wife, thought he was nuts. But you know what? He took this novice lifter and got her in incredible shape in less than a year with three basic powerlifts and an emphasis on consistent strength gains. I always thought that was a pretty cool story.
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