Female Body Image Issues


As a man, it always feels a little funny writing about female body issues and specific challenges that women face. I’ve been doing this full-time for over 8 years, but it still feels odd.

I’m not going to stop, because I seem to have a knack at helping women get the look they are after.

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Been helping the chickas look sexy since 2007!

(Here is the link to part 1 of this article).

Back when I was young and clueless, I thought women had a pretty easy path to getting in shape and looking great.

I figured they could simply diet and include a little cardio and they would have a sexy body.

I knew that only a small percentage would have the genetics to be a bikini model, but figured most could easily attain a physique worthy of the Sears Catalog.

Now that I’m in my late-40’s and wise (not really), I have noticed specific things about women and fitness.

1. Working Out Won’t Make Everything Perfect

A woman can’t increase breast size without surgery, she will most likely have at least some cellulite no matter how fit she gets, and can only partially change the appearance of her butt.

2. Women Have a Small Margin of Error in Their Diet

An average-sized woman burns fewer calories per day than the average-sized man. One high-calorie meal can easily put her into a large calorie surplus. Men have much more wiggle room in their diets.

3. Are Capable of Training as Hard as Men

Most women want to gain muscle and get lean, but also want to balance that by still looking feminine. Women have no problem training as hard as men. Remember…many of them go through childbirth. Respect!

There are some things that can’t be controlled by diet and exercise.

Her Breast Size:

There aren’t specific exercises that increase breast size. Outside of plastic surgery, a woman can’t increase the size of her breasts. She can build up the pecs a bit but has to be a little cautious if this area grows too large in comparison to her boobs.

Her Butt:

My biggest pet peeve is the “She Squats” memes.

You’ve seen these, right?

Typically it’s a close-up shot of a woman with a perfect butt (or just the woman’s butt), with the phrase “She Squats” on the picture. This implies that her flawless butt was a result of doing a lot of squats.

I was going to post one of those meme’s as an example, but I’m sick of those.

Here’s a picture of a woman squatting.

No obnoxious saying about squats required.

The whole squatting obsession makes me laugh.

A woman can build up the glute muscles, but a lot of the appearance of her butt is dictated by her natural fat distribution.

Some women have flawlessly shaped butts without ever going near a squat rack. There is a lot of genetics that come into play when it comes to the appearance of a woman’s backside.
Heck, a lot of women need to limit squats…if the glute and thigh muscles are already larger than what they desire.

Thigh Gap:

I can’t even believe this is a thing. Some women will never have this, no matter what they do. This is largely genetic and is a stupid thing to worry about in my opinion.

Things women can control?

  • Increasing muscle size in underdeveloped muscle groups.
  • Gaining strength without size in well-developed muscle groups.
  • Getting body fat to a level that isn’t too high or too low.

Let’s talk a bit more about calories.

Losing body fat requires being in a calorie deficit.

I don’t care what style of eating you like…

The easiest way to lose body fat is to eat in a way that you find enjoyable, while still being able to maintain a calorie deficit.

How many calories per day should women aim for if they want to quickly lose body fat?

In my opinion, here is a great starting point.

  • Target Body Weight X 10 = Calories Per Day

So that would be 1,300 calories per day for a 145-pound woman who wants to get to 130 pounds.

Here’s a calorie estimation tool (opens in new window), if you want to take into account height, age, activity levels etc.

A strategy to use if you like being social on the weekends:

Using the 1,300 calories per day example above…

I’ve found a good strategy is to eat a little more strict Monday-Thursday, to “earn” more calories on Friday & Sat.

Here’s a sample week that would average 1,300 calories per day, but allow for happy hours and socializing on Friday and Sat.

Sun: 1,100
Mon: 800
Tue: 800
Wed: 800
Thu: 1,000
Fri: 2,000
Sat: 2,600

Total Calories: 9,100

I think eating exactly (or right around) 1,300 calories per day would be torture. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy things like happy hours, brunches, BBQ’s, etc.

A better approach is to simply set up your days in a way that allows for higher calorie days and meals while still hitting your target weekly calorie goal.

Workout strategies for women.

Before I dig into workout strategies for women, I have to mention something that tends to irritate a lot of trainers.

It IS possible for a woman to get too big and bulky from training… especially in the legs, hips, and butt where she has natural strength and muscle building potential.
Does every woman get big and bulky from lifting weights?


Do some women get bigger than they would like from traditional weight training?


I simply use this logic…

If a muscle group is as big as you would like it to be, don’t train it in a way that will make this muscle group larger.

Women are told some funny things from trainers.

  • “It’s impossible to build too much muscle because as a woman you don’t have the hormone levels necessary to build large muscles.”
  • “You need to build muscle in order to burn more calories each day.”
  • “You have to add muscle before you can lose fat.”
  • “Your jeans will get tighter if you workout properly.”

Again, I will repeat my point above.

If a muscle group is as big as you would like it to be, don’t train it in a way that will make this muscle group larger.

…and don’t let a personal trainer convince you otherwise!

Workout Tip #1: Avoid training to failure unless you want to add size to a muscle group.

Training to failure (or close to failure) is what creates the conditions necessary for muscle growth.

The muscle becomes slightly damaged from this style of training and then once it becomes repaired with rest and nutrition, it comes back just a little bit larger. Over time this is what increases the size of a muscle group.

It doesn’t matter if the reps are high, or the reps are low, if you are struggling the last rep or two, you are creating the environment for breakdown and growth in a muscle.

If you don’t want to increase the size of a muscle, make sure you stop a couple of reps short of failure.

Workout Tip #2: Avoid the pump or intense burn in a muscle that grows faster than you would like.

Women are told to use high reps because supposedly it “tones” muscle (not the truth).

The problem with high reps is that it can create a strong “pump” in the muscle being worked.

This pump is caused by excessive blood flow to an area. When a you create this condition over and over in a muscle group, you will increase capillaries in that muscle group.

This develops vascularity in a muscle group (veiny muscles)…something most women aren’t striving for.

Workout Tip 3: Use strategic cardio to create a larger calorie deficit.

Women in particular benefit from cardio, since they have a tougher time than men to create a large deficit through diet alone.

I don’t recommend that men or women dip below 700–800 calories, even following my “Low-Calorie Monday through Thursday Outline” above.

When I eat 800 calories in a day, the deficit is largely due to my body size (195 pounds).

A 140-pound woman eating 800 calories in a day, has a much lower calorie deficit.

A little cardio is a great equalizer.

Include cardio a few times each week to increase the calorie deficit without dipping too low in calories on any particular day.

I believe a lot of information on women’s fitness is “dumbed down”… and my goal is to provide better information than what is commonplace in most women’s fitness articles.


My premium Women’s Course covers all of this in detail.

I definitely plan on discussing high-level strategies specific to women in future articles.

*NEW* Visual Impact Fat Loss Boost Diet
For 15 years I've helped fashion models get lean for photoshoots. Use my plan to Lose 5-10 pounds of PURE body fat in 14 days.

In part 3: I’ll cover challenges men face when it comes to maximizing their physical potential.

Click Here to Continue…

Fitness tips for women to get the look they are after without feeling bad in the process. Look great while improving your body image.