Traditionally, the phrase “train like a girl” has been used to shame men that aren’t giving it their best effort. However, as it pertains to these women, it represents the pinnacle of fitness performance;
– Jim Cordova.
Train Like a Girl
by Jim Cordova
Training like a Girl: Jen Sorice in the Power Rack
My training philosophy rests upon a foundation of simplicity. Whenever I impart my knowledge of fitness to my clients, many are surprised to find that it consists primarily of pushing and pulling weights in the simplest and most natural fashion. Effective nutrition is just as straightforward. For those that want to lose weight, we structure a nutrition plan with a caloric intake slightly below what they burn on a daily basis and do that consistently, day in and day out, until we’ve reached our objective. Those that want to gain weight simply add a few more calories to their daily diet regimen so that we minimize fat gains as we add muscle. Do you want results along the lines of what most people have in mind when they think of muscle tone? While there are methods of fine-tuning that accelerate and maximize progress, this is true fitness in a nutshell.
Nonetheless, I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. Just because my methods are simple doesn’t mean that they do not involve a respectable amount of time and hard work. True fitness is not a like a get rich quick scheme or a goal to be achieved within a few months. It is much more accurate to call it a lifestyle, and one that doesn’t always come easily for people since it involves modifying daily habits and developing a tolerance for the fatigue and soreness incurred through hard work. Moreover, there is nothing fun about it other than the personal gratification of knowing that you have laid yet another stone in the path toward your goal. And that is the way it should be, as fun is the polar opposite of work, which is why we don’t refer to exercising as a funout.
I’ve had the good fortune to work with a number of clients, consistently, for years. They have become a testimony as to how effective the most basic tenets of fitness can be in terms of transforming one’s strength, level of fitness, and overall quality of life. The most difficult part of this article was selecting a client that best represents the fitness lifestyle. I am impressed with all of them, completely blown-away in fact, and it sure takes a lot to impress me with respect to work ethic in the gym! Even so, I thought I would select from among my female clients, a few of which have given a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Train like a girl.” Traditionally, this phrase is used to shame men that aren’t giving it their best effort. However, as it pertains to these women, it represents the pinnacle of fitness performance; it is the ideal standard that any individual should strive for, whether male or female.
Ronnie Demyen (see above) began working with me about five years ago. She was brand new to fitness and wanted to improve her overall strength and muscle tone. Ronnie presented me with a difficult challenge right off the bat, as she had a small frame and there wasn’t much weight to lose. At the same time, she had a higher level of body fat than usual and not much muscle mass. Our primary goal would revolve around restructuring her body composition, which would mean devising a routine with a special emphasis on resistance training. Some of the exercises that Ronnie would need to perform to reach her goals were pretty intense. This worried me because she seemed like such a gentle and tenderhearted person, which indicated that she might have difficulty in generating the degree of intensity required for adequate muscle stimulation. My concerns were realized when I took her on the gym floor and noticed that this was indeed the case. To make matters worse, like many people that are new to fitness, she was intimidated by movements such as the deadlift and squat, which were the two most important exercises in her new routine.
I remember watching Ronnie struggle with the deadlift while holding only 15lb dumbbells in her hands. On more than one occasion, I had to give her lengthy Tony Robbins-style motivational speeches just to convince her to progress to 20lb dumbbells, which was, from her perspective, analogous to lifting the back end of a car. I’m not going to lie. At times, I wondered how in the world we would ever reach her goal, given that it had taken over a year before we began to produce the type of intensity required to accelerate her progress. Nonetheless, I had hope because Ronnie possessed a healthy abundance of dedication and perseverance.
Where is Ronnie at today? She warms up with 50lb dumbbells in each hand for the deadlift. She can place an 80lb dumbbell in each hand and dead lift it nearly ten times! You can frequently find her performing barbell squats with 150 pounds for over ten reps, which is no small feat, especially given that she weighs only about 120 pounds.
Sometimes I wonder if this woman has an ‘S’ on her chest. Of course, her physique is a glowing example of her hard work. She has lost a great deal of body fat resulting in a streamlined appearance, and all while displaying a level of muscle tone that is reminiscent of an Oxygen magazine model. I have really enjoyed working with Ronnie over the years, as I have watched her become a living demonstration of what can be achieved with a simplified regimen, hard work, patience, and relentless dedication.
Jackie Tierney is another client of mine who began training over three years ago. She had never touched a weight before coming to see me. One of our goals was to have her perform calisthenic exercises such as body weight dips and pull-ups, all while completely avoiding the dreaded “bulky” appearance that so many women fear will happen as a result of resistance training. Today she can perform almost a dozen wide-grip bodyweight pull-ups and twenty-five bodyweight dips, which is simply beyond amazing! To top it off, Jackie appears more petite and toned with each passing year.
Truth be told, I could probably take up all of the space in this newsletter illustrating the amazing accomplishments that many of my female clients have attained. Debbie Woltmann (see below) has worked with me on a relatively consistent basis over the past five years. She can perform more pull-ups and dips than I can count, in addition to squatting and dead lifting enough weight to impress a world class powerlifter. She developed tremendous strength without any of the bulk and possesses one of the lowest body fat levels of anyone in the gym. Silvana Gaskin (above) has worked with me on and off for five years as well. She is one of the fittest women at Fitness Incentive, squatting upwards of 200 pounds for reps and performing a dead lift approaching 300 pounds, all while weighing less than 130 pounds! Finally, Jennifer Sorice (top of page) has been working with me for going on three years. It seems as if she gets stronger with every pound that she loses, currently dead lifting 100 pound dumbbells in each hand for eight reps!
How many men do you know that achieve the feats that these women are able to demonstrate on a regular basis? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know any because there aren’t very many. If you do come across any that desire to reach the outstanding level of strength and fitness that the incredible women discussed throughout this article have achieved, feel free to send them my way for a consultation. In a short time, they too will be armed with both the insight and the passion that it takes to train like a girl!
Jim Cordova is currently one of the top fitness models in the nation in addition to being a world-ranked drug-free bodybuilder, recently claiming the titles of WNBF Pro Mr. Universe and Pro Mr. America for the second time each. As a result of his success, his image can be seen regularly in the majority of mainstream fitness magazines nationwide. As an authority in fitness and sports nutrition, he contributes toward the development of others through sharing his knowledge in public lectures, instructing at fitness camps across the nation, and writing articles for various mainstream fitness magazines.