Becoming a Lady-Beast

Hello! So with the flurry of media attention my blog has been getting out of late, I’m also getting a ton of questions from fellow ladies about what my exercise & diet plan looks like. I’m a huge advocate for lifting heavy, but it’s true I’ve also never gotten very specific about which lifts you should be doing. Hence…

Sophie’s Guide to Becoming a Lady-Beast

bear deadlift

The first step to becoming a lady-beast is to roar.


I’ve been deadlifting, back squatting, bench pressing, and so-on for about 1.5 years now.  I’ve gained 20 pounds of muscle and increased my back squat from 45 pounds up to 105 pounds. This is how I look when I’m working out:


I fucking love squats

Lady-beasts DO NOT get bulky unless they are actively trying to get a bodybuilder body. Women do not have the testosterone levels needed to create huge, bulky muscles. It takes years of specific training, diet, and supplements (often testosterone) to look like a bodybuilder.

Bulkiness is not something that happens by “accident”, it takes real effort. That’s like doing schoolwork at a B-average level, and expecting to receive a 110% A++ from your teachers. It’s completely effing delusional. Stop being delusional.

The other thing you should know…

spot reduce

so stop trying. You can’t just get rid of your “stomach pooch” or “armpit pooch” or any other specific pooches on your body. But you can reduce your overall level body fat throughout your whole  body, which will contribute to reducing the tiny poochie-poohs you hate so much.

This is why, for the most part, all of the exercises below are compound exercises– meaning they target multiple muscle groups, and engage the entire body.

Ok, that being said, here we go…

My Favorite Heavy Lifts:

*Note: All of the links below lead to fitness guides I’ve written for work. Also, here is that fabulous Fitness Guide to the Weightlifting Room for the ladies who don’t know what squat racks look like.


Use a barbell in the squat or power rack. OR, use a fixed-weight barbell.

Rack it at your shoulders, descend into a front squat, then rise up to standing & press the bar overhead.

Most of you will have to start in the 35-45 pound range. Do 3 sets of five. If that feels ok, then increase the weight by 5lbs and go again.

ASS TO GRASS Squats (Back, front, and overhead):

Many of you have probably tried air squats or jump squats. While those are nice, to become a lady-beast you’re going to need to add some weight to your squats.

First and foremost, make sure your squat form is en pointe (check out my Ultimate Guide to Squats). Then go to the squat rack.

Start with just the barbell & get comfortable doing 3 sets of 5-10. If 10 with the barbell feels ok, then start adding weight, 5lbs at a time.

And remember: Half-squats = half booty.

Full squats = full booty.

Ass to grass, ladies.

le dumbell

Le Deadlift


Seriously nothing is more empowering that deadlifting a ton of weight. I personally want to get to the point where I could walk up to most dudes and say “I could deadlift you”. My deadlift is kind of weak- about 110 lbs, but I’m working on it!

With the deadlift, you can probably start a bit heavier than just the barbell (which is 45lbs). Depending on your bodyweight, try starting at 65lbs and moving up from there. As with the squats, make sure your form is impeccable before going heavy (Here’s my Ultimate Guide to Deadlifts).

Overhead Walking Lunges:


Once again, regular, un-weighted lunges just aren’t going to cut it anymore (especially if you’re trying to get a booty).

Grab a weight plate (10-25 lbs is good for beginners), hold it overhead, and do walking lunges.

I like doing 4 sets of 10-15 steps, but you can modify this number based on how much your butt is burning.


These require a bit more skill, and I would only recommend them once you’re comfortable front squatting & deadlifting. However, if you are ready to clean, I’d recommend starting with just the bar again.

This article breaks down the clean for beginners. Start with hang power cleans. Then move to hang squat cleans. Then, finally, do the full squat clean.

Bench Press:

Yes, this is traditionally a “guy” exercise. I know most ladies aren’t interested in big arms. But what about perky boobies?! Bench press is first and foremost a chest exercise. And almost every girl I know would like a little lifting action in the chest area.

Go to a bench, lay down, and position yourself so your face is directly under the racked back. Reach up, and place your hands evenly apart, either shoulder-width or slightly wider. Push up to lift the bar off the rack, and position it right above your chest. Lower it down till it touches your boobs, then press it back up.

Start with just the bar, doing 3 sets of 5. If that feels ok (it probably will) then increase the weight by 5lbs and try again. I  can bench press about 75 lbs now, so take it slow. Girls have 40-50% less upper body strength than men – this is just how we’re built- so don’t expect to be bench pressing as much as the boys.

For me, this was by far the hardest lift to start doing, simply because the bench press is so totally and completely engulfed in manliness that approaching the bench made me feel naked in the spotlight. Literally. I felt naked. I don’t know why that is, but my point is, yes, it’s intimidating as hell, but…

Remember, Lady-Beasts are not easily intimidated.

If dudes at the gym are making you uncomfortable, do this:

I’m not kidding. It’s super effective.

I’ve also made that “cut it out” neck-slicing hand gesture in the mirror when I noticed a group of dudes behind me just staring at my ass- and they looked pretty embarrassed & stopped right away. Don’t feel bad. You’re not being rude. They’re being rude.

You will find that there is a learning curve for all of these new lifts. Don’t be afraid to go to the gym during off-peak hours & take your time playing around with the movements until you are comfortable.

Anyway, moving on to…

Bodyweight moves!

Here’s a my 5 favorite bodyweight moves, in order of most favorite to least favorite:

  1. Burpees. Do them. Even if you hate them.
  2. Jump squats
  3. Hindu push ups
  4. Box jumps
  5. Planks

Favorite Workouts:

These are a few of my favorite, and just some ideas to get you started.

For strength & conditioning

As Many Reps As Possible in 7 minutes:

  • 3 thrusters
  • 3 burpees
  • 6 thrusters
  • 6 burpees
  • 9 thrusters
  • 9 burpees
  • continue the pattern until time runs out.

For strength:

Warm up – 2000m row

3 sets of 5 reps of the following lifts, as heavy as you can manage:

  • Back squat
  • Deadlift
  • Power clean
  • Bench press

For conditioning:

Go to a rectangular field.

  • Sprint the diagonal
  • Jog the short edge
  • Repeat until you collapse
  • For added difficulty, do 10 push-ups at every corner.

As you can see, I like keeping things short & simple. Good form is everything, so don’t cheat.

Hope this helps! Happy training!


13 thoughts on “Becoming a Lady-Beast

  1. This is awesome! I hope this inspires more ladies to venture into weights. Although I love the women at my gym, it’d be nice to see some new faces!

  2. Great tips! I really like how detailed your post was. Squats and deadlifts are the best!!! I am glad you are encouraging more ladies to lift heavy!

  3. Hey Sophie! What a great post – and timing! I’ve been wanting to really build up my upper-body strength especially. I do have one concern: with exercises like squats, I’m worried about my knees. I am recently recovered from a nasty kneecap dislocation and it’s something I really don’t want to do again. Any tips?

    • Hi there! I’ve actually had my own issues with kneecap dislocation and this is what I’ve found:
      My kneecaps used to chronically dislocate because I had loose joints accompanied by weak muscles surrounding the cap. Squats and lunges have done wonders in building up the muscles around my knees, and it haven’t dislocated anything in over a year! So I personally think that squats are a great way to maintain knee health. Start with little or no weight, and work on your form & range of motion. Only when your form is perfect should you add weight. Add weight slowly by holding a light dumbbell with both hands at your chest. Slowly Increase the weight of the dumbbell until you can comfortably squat with a 30-35 pound dumbbell. Only then should you move to a barbell.

  4. Pingback: Spartan Performance » CROSSFIT SUFFOLK: Powered By SPARTAN PERFORMANCE

  5. I love this! I have actually decided recently that I do not want to lose weight but build lean muscle…what I really want is to tone up because right now I am “skinny fat”. I am at a loss though. 😦 My biggest problem areas are my flabby arms and jiggly thighs. Any advice? HELP.

    • Hey girl, my advice would be to keep cardio to a minimum (5-10 minutes easy warm up or cool down- that’s it) and do the heavy lifts I listed in this article. Also, get your diet in check- cut out the soda/bottled drinks and go au natueral with the food. Stay away from processed stuff, especially high fructose corn syrup.

  6. Hi Sophie, I just found your blog today and really love it! I used to be a dancer also in a past life, and had a similar weight loss experience to you over the past year or so. But I have recently started tackling all that and also getting into workouts. I have always been afraid to try heavier weights, even though I know I won’t bulk up, and you have inspired me to look into it again. I am wondering what you think about programs like Insanity, that do interval training with cardio and plyo, rather than using weights. I have just started the second month of that program. Love the blog and your insights! Cheers, sj

  7. Tiny bit off topic for this post I guess but I stumbled upon your 1200 calories blog entry yesterday and have to say I think it’s probably the best written article on calories I’ve ever read. I know it’s aimed at women and the way female diets are portrayed but as an overweight, average bloke I can say that I’ve usually approached weight loss in exactly the same ways. Until now.
    I’ve been hitting an outdoor exercise class 3 days a week and doing some strength training as well as the strength work in the class and I’ve haven’t dropped 1 single pound in a month. In fact I’ve gained a pound.
    But I’ve dropped an inch and a half off my waist.
    My face is thinner, leaner.
    So are my arms.
    My legs (which have always been fairly solid anyway) are starting to look like a marvel character has swapped his lower half out with me. 🙂
    All thanks to pretty much what you’re suggesting above.
    Honestly, you have one of the best, most informative blogs I’ve read, subbed.
    Especially if you want to put muscle on without becoming a body builder. Every single site about weight training is aimed at huge gains, loads of supplements, big, big, big. I don’t want to be Mr universe. I want to be fit and strong and find your way of talking about it much easier to relate to so huge thanks 🙂

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: