How Wahine Train Kū and Build a Strong Sexy Kū Body

In this post I’ll share:

  • How I train my wahine athletes
  • Why it’s important for wahine to develop strength
  • How resistance training and being more active can create a sexy Kū body

I train a handful of wahine and at first they were a bit hesitant (just to clarify, wahine is Hawaiian for female). My wife even trains with me every so often and has to remind me that she’s not one of my football players. We get into a debate on how I’m not saying anything bad, but then she comes around with, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” This only leads me to retreat back, breathe, and say, “I’m sorry honey.” Note: Married life ultimate tip – Happy wife means a Happy life. But I digress, when it comes to training females there is a bit of a different approach.  I’ve worked with women who were afraid of lifting anything over a 10lb weight and others who were so gung-ho about training that it didn’t matter how injured or tired they were, more was better.  I had a lot of practice working with different approaches with my experience being the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Redlands for a handful of women’s sports and having quite a bit of female clients. A big question that is thrown around in the strength and conditioning industry is if men and women should train differently from each other.  Today, I’m going to give you an overview on how I create a program for a wahine.

Always do Full Body Workouts

Dr. Kiana doing work at the Aipa Hale

There are a lot of activities that can fall under this exercise category.  In this case I am talking about resistance training.  Men can get great results as well with full body workouts but there are also great benefits to splitting up the days into an upper and lower body split. The Kū Method calls for wahine to always train full body, but there are considerations. I think an upper body workout is a waste of time for wahine unless they have a certain specific goal.  Not saying there isn’t anything wrong with training just the upper body, but from my experience not many females want to spend 45 minutes building up their arms, traps, lats, etc. Full body workouts help wahine build muscle, gain strength, and burn fat which is essential towards building a strong sexy Kū Body.

Use Higher Reps

Now let me clarify this, high reps for me is 10-12 reps.  Yes, at times I use reps that go higher but 10-12 is pretty up there.  For example, let’s say a male uses 75% of his one rep max for 8 reps on a certain exercise.  A wahine can use 75% of her one rep max for 10 reps. Grabbing a weight to do countless reps in order to build “long” and “lean” and “toned” muscles is complete crap that you can find in many women’s health magazines.  In order to build any type of muscle and strength, you need a good amount of resistance and tension.

Rest and Listen to Your Body

I do recommend certain rest periods, but for both men and women I coach them to listen to their bodies.  Personally, my rest periods are pretty short in between sets.  But if it’s a heavy day and had to dig deep, I definitely take a much longer rest.  I’m not a fan of being dictated by a clock.  Now a wahine, on the other hand, can handle higher intensities with short rest periods. After doing a heavy set of 5 reps, rest period guidelines in strength and conditioning suggests 3-5 minutes.  Most guys will be happy to take those 3-5 minutes, females on the other hand get bored and are ready to go again within a minute or so. On days that I have my female athletes go heavy, I pair smaller exercises within the set to keep them occupied during their rest. I think it’s from the whole women can multitask way better than men.

Skip The Single Jointed Isolation Exercise

First, it’s boring for me to coach triceps pushdowns and bicep curls. It’s really not that exciting for me to watch.  But doing little exercises like those are a waste for a wahine.  It’s important to focus on building up on compound lifts; olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, lunges, military press, rows, pull-ups, dips, and more. Developing a program based around compound lifts and gaining strength on them is a great recipe for a lean, strong, and Kū body.

Eat Protein

Females do not consume enough protein.  I’m not saying to start scarfing down steaks and chicken breasts, and guzzling down protein shakes. But whatever amount of protein you are eating now, is more than likely not enough.  Especially, if you a training with the Kū Method. For a wahine I always start them out wither anywhere from 0.5 grams to 1.0 grams of protein per bodyweight in pounds.  So for a wahine athlete who is 120lbs, that’s anywhere from 60-120 grams of protein that come from sources such as; eggs, chicken, turkey, beef,  fish, pork, and greek yogurt to name a few.

Why do I Focus on Strength for Wahine?

Training programs for the majority of the wahine I train have rep ranges that fall between the 5-12 rep ranges.  We will go higher, but we focus on progressive overload and increasing the weight slowly every session.  Lifting heavy burns way more calories than doing the butt kickback machine.  There’s a time for that light weight stuff, but you have to take care of business.  Remember, it’s not how sweaty you get or how much calories you burn during the workout that is important rather how many calories you continue to burn in the next 24-48 hours after your workout while you are recovering. Heavy weights causes your metabolism increase and forces your body to burn more calories throughout the day.  Yes, doing a lot of reps of a certain exercise will make you sweat and feel the ‘burn’, but after you are pau with the workout you don’t continue to burn calories as much.

So Lifting Heavy Weights is the Only Way for a Wahine to Build a Strong, Sexy and Kū Body?

Yes, and no.  If a wahine wants a firmer butt, tighter arms, a nice back, and a tight midsection then yes.  But is it the only thing? No. I’m not asking you to become a gym rat, but I am asking to give yourself 2 or 3 days where you focus on resistance training.  The other days you can do your yoga, cardio (which I should probably write more about in another post), hiking, and other physical activity.

The wife getting in a quick cardio session between her yoga and resistance training days…

Resistance training can train you physically, mentally, and spiritually which many of my athletes experience while working with me.  It’s all about attitude and increasing performance. Remember, enjoying what you do is the most important.

There are some wahine who aren’t into lifting weights but they are fit, healthy, and happy because they live an active Kū lifestyle.  Lifting weights is just a tool I use to help other become the strongest version of themselves and live a Kū life.

Announcement: I added more time slots to bring on more clients either at the Aipa Hale in the mornings or Kū  Performance Hawaii in the evenings.  For more information, checkout Kū Performance Hawaii or contact me AIPA @ THEAIPAPROJECT.COM

Featured Pic: Credited to the wahine over at Girls Gone Strong

About Daniel Aipa

Daniel Aipa is a writer, strength and conditioning coach, and known as the 'Kū Guy'. He believes in building strength both in and out of the gym. He is the author of ALOHA TO YOU and the founder of KŪ PERFORMANCE HAWAII. Aipa's writing is geared towards helping others build a Kū body and live a Kū life, becoming the strongest versions of themselves.