Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Should Women Train Differently from Men?

Yes! But Not for the Reason You Think…
The fact is, women are better at training than men.

Before we get into the reasons and the science we need a short discussion on how a person (male or female) gets stronger or builds muscle or loses fat.


Volume is defined as weight x reps x sets. As an example, let’s say you lift 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps. Your volume for that lift would be 100 x 3 x 10=3000.
Your volume for that exercise would be 3000 pounds.

You can discuss muscle damage, metabolic stress and 20 other variables but in the end, volume trumps everything. Volume lifted relates to greater strength, size and more work performed which equates to burning more calories for fat loss.

The goal in training is to increase the volume a little each week pushing your body to adapt (adaptive response).

Can the average woman do more total volume than the average Man?

Of course not. A 200 pound man squatting 300 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps is going to do more total volume than a woman who squats a 1 Rep Max (1RM) of 155 pounds. Everyone’s volume is going to vary due to genetics, training age, prior injury and a host of other factors. But, in terms of Relative Volume, women are better. Relative volume is measured in terms of a percentage of their 1 Rep Max (1RM).

In studies, women have been found to tolerate heavy load training better than men. And they improve relative strength better than men using the same routine.
Where a man might struggle to knock out 3 sets of 5 reps at 80% of their 1RM, a woman might be able to hit 6 or 7 reps on 5 sets at 85% of their 1RM plus women recover faster than men needing less rest between sets.

The Science
Studies give us several reasons for this female advantage.

Range of Motion

Women generally display a larger range of motion than men. The better the range of motion the more stimulus to the working muscle.


Men have from 10 to 30 times more testosterone than women. Testosterone is anabolic meaning testosterone aids in building muscle mass. The lack of testosterone is why it’s virtually impossible for women to get “bulky”.

But women have many times more estrogen than men. Estrogen may not be as anabolic as testosterone but estrogen is anti-catabolic (meaning it keeps muscle from being destroyed). Estrogen improves muscle recovery, aids in metabolism and helps strengthen bones, joints and tendons.

Muscle Fiber Type

Men have a higher proportion of Type I muscle fibers. Type I fibers are responsible for explosive and powerful movement But the energy of Type I fibers is expended quickly. Women, on the other hand, have a higher proportion of Type II muscle fibers that are used for endurance activities. Women, therefore, are capable of doing more reps and recovering faster than men (meaning shorter rest times between sets).

Pain Tolerance

I’ll keep this short as to not embarrass my male audience. But any woman who has ever had a male companion with a cold knows that women have a higher tolerance for pain than men. Women, therefore, are able to push through the discomfort and get more reps and sets at a higher % of their 1RM.

How to Train Like a Girl

In order to get stronger, add muscle and burn fat you have to:

·        Use a higher % of your 1 RM (and show up your male counterparts) At least 5% more.
You can physically test your 1 RM but until you have spent a few months under the bar and attempt to lift heavier with good (if not perfect) form you can us a 1RM calculator. Look in the Calculators/Resources tab at the top of the page. The calculators aren’t perfect but they are close enough for this purpose. You’ll find they are closer on some lifts than on others.
·        Push for a couple more reps than you planned for
·        You can plan for shorter rest periods between sets
·        Use a full range of motion on every rep
·        Get out of your comport zone
·        Progress on every workout- more weight, more reps, or more sets
You only improve in any type of training by progressing on every workout. You have to subject your body to stimuli it is unaccustomed to to get the necessary adaptive response or progress will stop.
·        Recovery
You don’t get stronger or gain muscle in the gym. Your workout just provides the stimulus. You get stronger during recovery. Get 7-9 hours of rest every night.
·        Get the right nutrition
No matter how hard you work in the gym, you cannot out train a bad diet

Other Articles of interest:
The Myth of Steady-State Cardio (Must Read!)

Throw Away Your Scales

Ten Mistakes Women Make in the gym

7 Lies About Women, Fitness and Diet

Others can be found by using the search box in the right column-key words "women", "ladies"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and will posted once approved