Kentucky Strong: How Do You Get Your Girl to Train?

TAGS: Renegade training, Jen Sinkler, Jen Ferruggia, jen comas keck, Caitlyn Trout, Strong(her), Chase Karnes, 5/3/1, westside for skinny bastards, strength training

Getting your girlfriend or wife interested in training can be a real challenge, so I figured I’d get more than one opinion on this issue. I’ll explain how I got my wife (girlfriend at the time) interested in training. I also got some help on this one from a few ladies I know with various backgrounds who just happen to train.

How I got my wife to train

When we met, my wife immediately knew that I was into training because I was dieting for a bodybuilding competition and already working as a personal trainer/strength coach. However, we didn’t talk about it very much in the beginning except for a few questions she had about what I did for a living. We continued to date for a while. I knew she “worked out,” but I waited a while to bring up the topic. When dating girls in the past, I had noticed that being a personal trainer was intimidating to them. While it shouldn’t have been, I was always slow to bring up the topic of training or nutrition. Because I was 21 at the time and most the girls I went on dates with were 19–21, most of them hadn’t been exposed to lifting weights or proper nutrition, so I didn’t want them to think that I was some kind of fitness nut or obsessed with training (because I’m not). I’m passionate about training, but I have a life outside the gym.

One night, after we had been dating for a few months, I said that I had missed my workout earlier that day for whatever reason (because I really had) and wondered if she’d want to go to the gym with me to get a quick workout in. She agreed and we headed off to the gym that I worked at. Luckily, we don’t have any members because we strictly do personal training and small group training, so at this time of night, there wasn't anyone there. I did my thing and watched her do her thing. I didn't critique her or offer any advice. We laugh about it now, but she was doing some random crap that she had seen in Cosmo or on TV. While it was pretty much a waste of time, at least she was doing something. I did want to tell her that she could be doing much better exercises, but I decided to keep that to myself for the time being.

A few more months went by. She was working out a bit more, but on her own at the college fitness center. Our schedules were pretty different, so we didn’t train together again for a while after that first time. One night, she was at my apartment and asked me if I’d be interested in training her some or at least showing her what to do in the gym. I was completely up for that and we actually drove to the gym that night. Like most girls, she had worries that she would “bulk up” from lifting weights and was a little apprehensive about it. I explained to her that she wouldn’t bulk up and even showed her pictures of a few girls online who lifted and looked great. However, I didn’t comment on how great these women looked beyond the fact that they lifted weights and weren’t bulky. I figured she could decide on her own if she thought they looked good. My input wasn’t needed.

My

I got her started with just some basic movements. She learned the squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, assisted chin-ups, single leg work, incline dumbbells, rows, and planks. I trained her one to two times a week and she squatted, benched, and deadlifted. Then she trained on her own a few days a week doing the less technical lifts. I never pushed her hard, and we always worked submaximal and just learned good movement patterns. After a few months of training like this, she noticed some changes in her body and liked what she saw. She was still apprehensive about lifting “heavy” and straining under the bar, so I set her up with a program based off 5/3/1, but just had her hit her minimum numbers each time. While this isn’t ideal, she wasn’t a paying client, so I was OK with her progressing slowly, and most of all enjoying lifting and the process.

Eventually, her weights progressed so that they were heavier and heavier. She really enjoyed it. Soon after, I showed her a video of a figure competitor deadlifting some heavy weight, and she said, “I want to be strong like that.” It had clicked, and the rest is history. Since then, she’s also competed in two NPC Bikini competitions and a NAS Strongman competition. She has her own home gym with a platform, half rack, bench, and all the basics. She trains three to four days a week and loves it. She has also seen major changes in her body and embraces her strength and muscle. She’ll kill me for saying this, but she has cute comments like, “Look at my arms—I’m jacked! So that’s how I went about it. It may not be the best way, but it did work.

How the ladies recommend getting your girl to train:

Jen

Recommendation from Jen Ferruggia

I’m a professional fitness coach, health educator, fitness model, NPC Bikini competitor, and the female leader of the Renegade Nation. My favorite PR that I accomplished over my years of training is my eighteen chin-ups. Before I began this challenge, I was able to do about six to seven. I didn't do anything but low reps on chin-ups and worked on maximal strength and speed. I also incorporated ladders to help build up volume while minimizing fatigue. I never felt stronger!

Now I train for functional strength using barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and advanced body weight exercises while maintaining my feminine look and keeping myself bikini body ready all year round.

I was a three-sport athlete in high school and began training when I was 16 years old in my off-season, which was summer time. Because I couldn't drive yet, from May to August, my dad dropped me off at the local gym and picked me up when I was finished. As I entered college, I continued with my softball career and trained when fall ball ended until the beginning of spring season. During my college years, I also worked as a trainer at my college gym and at a nearby local gym. Needless to say, the gym was always on my mind, but I quickly learned that to have the physique I always wanted, I really had to clean up my “college diet.” From there, it’s been no turning back. Many, many years later, I met my wonderful husband and training partner, Jason Ferruggia. We reopened Renegade Gym where I spent years training clients, learning, and trying to soak up as much information from him as I could. The Renegade Method is now my lifestyle. I'm committed and dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and am always experimenting with new recipes, different ways of eating, and new training techniques, exercises, tips, and tricks.