Course Description

PHCI’s Strength Training for Women Specialist Certification dives deep into the differences and challenges that affect how many women optimize health, strength, and muscle-building. Coaches come away with a better understanding of the obstacles, questions, needs, and goals of women looking to get stronger and fitter. 

Course Instructor


Ashleigh VanHouten

One of the first 50 people to complete the original Primal Health Coach Certification Course, Ashleigh VanHouten also holds a number of other certifications in nutrition, applied women’s physiology, and strength training. In addition to this course, she has developed a range of coaching programs and seminars for women aimed at improving physical strength, overall wellness, and a deeper understanding of our bodies. Ashleigh has a background in swimming, powerlifting, and CrossFit and is a former nationally ranked natural figure competitor. Ashleigh is also the host of the “Muscle Science for Women” podcast, which has more than 1.6 million downloads. She interviews some of the leading minds in exercise and nutrition methodology and overall wellness and has dedicated much of her career to exploring and teaching ancestral-based nutrition practices. She was a writer for Paleo Magazine for ten years, has contributed to, and wrote one of the only nose-to-tail, organ-meat-centric cookbooks in existence called It Takes Guts. Her second book, Carnivore-ish, highlights the benefits of a whole-foods, protein-centric approach.

Course Curriculum

  • 1


    • Welcome, and Why We Created This Course

    • Meet Your Faculty and Staff

    • Course Overview

  • 2

    Legal and Support

    • Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

    • Support

  • 3


    • Introduction

    • Resources

    • Frequently Asked Questions About Strength Training for Women

    • Glossary

  • 4

    Bonus Educational Material

    • Introduction

    • There Is More to Fitness Than Cardio - Interview with Instructor Ashleigh VanHouten

    • How to Become an Effective Women's Strength Training Expert - Interview with Instructor Ashleigh VanHouten

  • 5

    Chapter 1: Introduction and Key Concepts

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • Key Concept 1: Nutrition and Hydration

    • Key Concept 2: Training

    • Key Concept 3: Recovery

    • Key Concept 4: Hormonal Considerations

    • Key Concept 5: Physiological Considerations

    • Key Concept 6: Fitness Culture

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 1 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 1 Exam

    • Practicum: Key Concepts

  • 6

    Chapter 2: Nutrition and Hydration

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • Hydration

    • Monitoring (and Coaching) Hydration

    • Nutrition

    • An Overview of Macros (and Why They Matter)

    • Crafting a Client’s Nutritional Goals

    • Maximizing Compliance & Success

    • Co-Creating Your Client’s Eating Strategy

    • How Does Alcohol Fit Into a Nutrition Plan?

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 2 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 2 Exam

    • Practicum: Nutrition and Hydration

    • Curriculum Supplement - Strength Training and Fasting

    • Curriculum Supplement - Does Your Client Need Supplements?

  • 7

    Chapter 3: Training

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • 3 Key Factors for Strength Building

    • Language Matters: Understanding Terms

    • Designing a Training Plan

    • Training Plan Template

    • Troubleshooting: Signs a Program May Not Be Working (and Why)

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 3 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 3 Exam

    • Practicum: Develop a Training Plan

    • Curriculum Supplement - Movement Cadence

  • 8

    Chapter 4: Recovery

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • What Is Stress?

    • What Is Recovery, and Why Is It Necessary?

    • The Ultimate Recovery Tool: Sleep

    • What Happens When Recovery Is Not a Priority

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 4 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 4 Exam

    • Practicum: Recovery

    • Curriculum Supplement: What Is the DUTCH Test and Why Is It Helpful?

    • Curriculum Supplement - Breathing for Calm and Focus: A Box-Breath Tutorial

  • 9

    Chapter 5: Physiological and Hormonal Considerations

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • Female Physiological Traits That (May) Impact Strength Training

    • Sex Hormones and Their Impact Throughout the Life Cycle

    • Pregnancy

    • Perimenopause

    • Menopause

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 5 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 5 Exam

    • Practicum: Physiological and Hormonal Considerations

    • Curriculum Supplement - Fat Placement and Body Composition in Females

  • 10

    Chapter 6: Fitness Culture

    • Introduction

    • Chapter Overview

    • Quick Facts

    • The Current Landscape of Fitness Culture: An Uphill Battle

    • Harmful Features of Fitness Culture

    • Eating Disorders and Other Mental Health Issues

    • Reframing Fitness: A Lifelong Journey, Not a Means to an End

    • Chapter Summary and References

    • Coaching Your Clients

    • Chapter 6 Curriculum Audio

    • Chapter 6 Exam

    • Practicum: Fitness Culture

    • Curriculum Supplement - An Honest Conversation Around Fitness Culture

  • 11


    • Strength Training for Women Final Exam