I have been asked by a lady at my club about reducing muscle size. During training, significant gains in muscle have been noted, which is against the client's goals. Is there a specific way of training we could do to give total muscle atrophy?
As long as your client is using lighter weights and higher repetitions during weight lifting, she should not be putting on a lot of bulk. Lean muscle takes up less space than body fat, so if your client sticks to a low weight, high repetition routine, her muscles will eventually have a lean, toned appearance. When first starting a weight program, a woman will often feel as if her muscles are getting bigger, and they may slightly at first. This is because muscle mass gains often occur more quickly than body fat losses initially in people who are not accustomed to a regular exercise-training program. If she sticks with the program, however, her muscles will soon appear smaller as they become leaner and more toned. This occurs when a greater tolerance to exercise is developed, and body fat losses occur at a faster rate.
I would recommend using weights your client is able to lift 20 times in a row and doing two to three sets for each exercise. The weights should still be heavy enough, though, that she starts to fatigue by 20 repetitions. Also, make sure that adequate cardiovascular exercise is taking place (at least 20 minutes three days per week in the client’s target heart rate range) and that an appropriate nutrition plan is being followed. Increasing the cardio length or frequency is another step you can take. You could bump the cardio up to 30 to 45 minutes at a time or add one or two extra days per week.