The Cute Girl Dream Sheet

 

Women want compliments. If you don’t think so, you’re crazy. If we tell you we don’t, we’re lying. If you’ve read my last article here on, however, you know I’m of the opinion that the compliments we want need to be delivered a certain way if they’re going to do you—or us—any good. Regardless, we still dig it when people notice how hard we’re working or what we’re capable of doing. The sincere compliment will always have its place.

Compliments happen, and sometimes they’ll even come from someone who’s not looking to get anything from us in return—like the guy who called me a “total badass” the other day when I finished a set of weighted chin-ups. I give out unsolicited compliments all the time when they’re appropriate—like when someone accomplishes a new goal, hits a PR, or perfects their form with an exercise they’ve been struggling with. These things don’t happen overnight, so who wouldn’t want to hear that somebody’s noticed and appreciated them?

This concept of earned compliments got me thinking about what types of gym achievements actually deserve them. What are some things that women can shoot for, that when accomplished should compel people to come over and say something?

Here’s my list of six, along with some helpful tips. The purpose of this is not to make you want to run out and break any records. I just want you to challenge yourselves to surpass the status quo, because it’s immensely rewarding, both physically and psychologically. And remember, I’m not a dude, nor do I aspire to be one, so this list is for women.

1. BENCHING YOUR BODYWEIGHT

This is a tough one, especially if you don’t have a powerlifting background, but the goal here is to hit 5-10 reps. I’m talking about a full range of motion, not taking the bar three inches down and up. To make the list, you need to get the bar all the way down to your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades back and down, and push it back up with everything you have. Squeeze your glutes, too, because you’ll want an arch in your back. Form is everything here, especially if you’re looking to get stronger (and you should be).

2. PUSH-UPS WITH ADDED WEIGHT

Put a 45 pound plate on your back, or wear a weighted vest, and perform a set of 8-10 push-ups. If you can’t bench press without pain, or you’re looking for a more “functional” exercise to master, this is a perfect goal for your upper body. Push-ups also work your core, too. Just remember to keep your elbows slightly tucked in to spare your shoulder joints.

3. CHIN-UPS OR PULL-UPS WITH ADDED WEIGHT

PullupAWI’m sure many of you are thinking that hitting a bodyweight chin-up or pull-up is enough, but why stop there? Doing the bodyweight versions of these moves is a great start, but the ability to do this, at least for a healthy adult, falls into the category of necessary. If you can add weight to both of these exercises while maintaining good form, now we’re talking about something special.

The Right Form

With pull-ups and chin-ups, you need to get your chest all the way up to the bar, not halfway. You’ll notice a theme here with these aspirational moves: I’m asking for full movements with deep contractions. As one of my favorite instructors used to say, “If YOU don’t squeeze it, nobody will!”

The Start

Let your body hang, and start by depressing or pulling your shoulder blades down. From here, you can pull your body up, stopping when your chest is touching the bar.

Your Elbows

With reverse-grip and neutral-grip chin-ups, your elbows should stay close to your body, tucked into your ribcage. For pull-ups, the movement comes from your lats, with less biceps recruitment, so don’t tuck your elbows as much. They’ll need to stay a little bit out and back so you’re using your lats without too much internal rotation of the shoulder joint.

4. DIPS

Bodyweight dips aren’t easy for women, but again, using your bodyweight is just the start. Your goal should be to add weight to these by using a dip belt. Any woman who can add 10-25 pounds to a set of dips will turn heads in any gym in the world.

Shoulder Health, Redux

Dips are extremely stressful on your shoulder joints. To put more of the focus on your triceps, keep your elbows tucked back behind you, with your shoulders pulled back and down. There’s a well-known saying in Pilates that’s applicable here: “Don’t wear your shoulders as earrings.” This means you don’t want to let your shoulders creep up or round forward. You want to protect your shoulder joints, not impinge them.

Elbows Out

Doing dips with your hands wider will place more stress on your pecs and your serratus muscles. If you feel any pinching in your shoulders, however, don’t do these. Better yet, use a foam roller, some PVC pipe, or corrective exercises to stabilize your shoulders and release “stuck” pecs or lats before adding wider dips to your routine. If you can do wider-grip dips, you’ll want to lean or tip your body slightly forward. This will give you somewhat of an arching movement when you move up and down—as opposed to the more vertical motion of narrow-grip dips.

5. SQUAT DOUBLE YOUR BODYWEIGHT

WheavysquatIn my first article for DH, I mentioned that aiming to squat 1.5 times your bodyweight is a good marker to gauge your progress into the intermediate and advanced levels. Once you’ve done that, however, it’s time to up the ante. Squatting double your bodyweight entails some serious strength development, but once you’ve done it, you won’t be able to put a price on the amount of self-respect you’ve accrued.

My best squatting tip? Find a reputable powerlifter in your area for tips on form, because powerlifters are the people who know how to do this the right way. Form and technique are things you can’t overlook, because you only have one spine and one set of disks—and you need to respect them like you would your grandmother’s china. The bottom line when it comes to squatting? Hire a pro. A real pro.

6. PISTOL SQUATS

Pistol squats can be done holding weights, or you can try to do them for reps. Either way, they’ll do wonders for your backside, but they’ll also require some serious balance, engaging your core, feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

Getting Started

Use a set of TRX straps—or some other type of suspension trainer—when you first try these. Straps will allow you to get your hips back first so you can sink your butt all the way to the floor. The biggest mistake I see with pistol squats is that nobody wants to go deep enough. Getting your butt all the way to the floor trains your central nervous system (CNS) and teaches it what you’re priming it for. Use your suspension straps to help you sit back and finish the contraction of your glutes—with a slight push forward with your hips, and your legs straight but not locked at the top.

How to Progress

Once you can do three or more sets of 20 reps using suspension straps, keep your balance by resting one hand on a piece of equipment. After that, go hands-free. You can also try this move with a cable/pulley attachment before going hands-free. With the cables set at shoulder or hip height, use a light weight as your “helper.” The stronger you get, the less weight you’ll need. Eventually, you’ll be doing these hands-free, holding kettlebells or dumbbells for added resistance.

What’s the Point, Again?

This is my short list. Depending on your goals, there are lots of things you can physically aspire to. I chose these particular goals for women because they won’t, contrary to popular belief, add bulk to your body. Think Bruce Lee, gymnasts, and acrobatic yoga people (acro-yogies) who have bodies that are incredibly strong and flexible. Whatever you’re pursuing, don’t be afraid to release your inner beast, even if you’re simply trying to be a cute girl. Set your goal, focus your intention, and your smoking hot bikini body will be all the evidence you need. 

  • proudbob

    shit, being a man I have yet to achieve some of these

  • Jason Buettner

    It’s all about setting goals.

  • Grantis

    I have serious doubts that any female over 5’6″ can do a raw 2xbodyweight squat sans male hormone.

    • http://twitter.com/kcarolhxw kcarolhxw

      at 5’11”, I find these goals difficult. I can deadlift though.

  • April Harper

    It can be done!! I’ve hit a few of these and still have a feminine physique :)

  • Damon

    great list, would you add deadlifting to it at some point?

  • http://twitter.com/eboyle eboyle

    Was the title for this article really necessary? I love when there’s female-specific content, but there’s really no need for a title like this. I don’t see the male contributors titling article “Cute Guy Secrets.” Isn’t it enough that we want to be strong, too?

    • http://twitter.com/kcarolhxw kcarolhxw

      agreed