Women’s training should not differ to much from men on a whole but there are slight differences that need to be taken into account. I will explore some of theses differences and how they relate to your workout. I will give you a couple of tips to help you design your workout programs such as exercises, sets and reps, so you can manipulate them to your advantage. I tried to include things that are missing the most in a woman’s workout routine.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO LIFT HEAVY! YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A MAN!
90% of women I train are afraid to lift heavier weights and are afraid they will get huge man muscles. Don’t worry its not that easy. Hormones is one of the major factors that dictate why women cannot get as large as men. Women’s androgen(hormones that maintain and develop male characteristics) levels are lower than men. Testosterone is the main androgen that controls the size of muscles, shoulder girth, and strength. Testosterone is 10 to 20 times lower in women, so on a hormonal level it is almost impossible, unless with the intervention of steroids, for women to gain muscle mass of a man. Also women have smaller muscle fibers than men which is another physiological difference that will not let women get larger muscles. Lets go over some benefits of strength training with heavier weights.
- In order to acheive muscle tone you need to activate high threshold motor units so it can recruit various type 2 muscle fibers(fast twitch muscle fibers). Type 2 muscle fibers are the muscle fibers that will be more visible and women are less efficient in recruiting type 2 muscle fibers. Heavier weights will stimulate faster growth of type 2 muscle fibers.
- The weight of heavier weights increases bone density and reduces calcium loss which will reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Increasing muscle mass will increase resting metabolic rate which will make it easier for a woman to keep a overall lower level of body fat
- Using heavier weights increase the intensity of a workout which in turn leads to a overall larger calorie burn.
- Heavier weight will cause important neural adaptations which is important because women are less neural efficient than men.
- Building a wider shoulder base will give a appearance of a smaller waist. Remember appearance is an illusion.
REPS-AND EXERCISE TYPES
- Women use a few more reps than men. Men typically use 1-5 rep max for strength and women should use 3-6 reps for strength, men use 5-10 rep max for hypertrophy but women should use 7 to 12. Women do not recruit the muscles as well as men so more reps need to be used to get the same training effect.
- Use multi joint exercises such as squat, deadlift, bench, etc because it causes more stress on the skeletal system and it will cause greater calcium storage inside the bone. Isolated exercises should still be used but just not the main focus of a workout
- Studies have shown that in untrained males and females, that leg strength is equal but upper body strength is much greater in men. So females should work their upper body to a greater degree. Also females lose upper body muscle fiber gains quicker because females type 1(slow twitch muscle fibers) dominate which creates a more rapid detraining in females.
- Females that have been training for a while and have good exercise techniques should incorporate plyometrics, cleans, push presses, and other explosive and ballistic exercises to increase neural efficacy.
WOMEN MORE PRONE TO KNEE PROBLEMS, PREVENTATIVE MEASURES
Women have a larger Q-Angle because structurally women have wider hips. When the Q- angle is larger it cause knee instability and knee valgus which cause PFP and makes you at greater risk for the things like acl tears. Some good ways to combat knee instability is to work your vastus medialis and your glute medius.
The vastus medialis is crucial to stabilizing the knee. The vastus mediais is most worked at the last part of leg extension, like the top of a squat. So some good exercises to activate the vastus medialis are walking lunges, leg ext and throwing in double partial reps at the top, side step ups, lunges with the front foot elevated on a box and lunges or squats where you go down quarter way twice and then go down full way which would be one rep. Incorporate some of these exercises in your routine to save your knee and also to develop some nice wheels.
The glute medius is another muscle that will help women stabilize the knee because it helps stop knee valgus by externally rotating the femur. Glute medius is one of the stabilizers in lunges but it is activated more when the leg abducts(movers away from the body). One of the best exercise for the glute medius is tube walking. You wrap the tube around the bottom of both feet and hold the handles of the tube with the tubes criss crossing and take 12 to 20 steps laterally going both directions for 2-3 sets. Another good exercise to target the glute medius is the leg abduction machine(the machine where you sit down and the resistance is when you spread your legs open) but instead of doing this sitting up straight bend foward with your chest and face looking foward, this will target the glutes much more effectively.
MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND TRAINING
Certain studies have showed that women who exercise have less problems with premenstrual symptoms but if overtraining occurs, extreme caloric deficit, or the combination of both can cause menstrual abnormalitie such as amenorrhea(the absence of menstrual bleeding). Some studies have indicated that female athletes perform the best between the immediate postmenstrual period and 15th day of the menstrual cycle. Day 1-5 of the menstrual cycle can include symptons of greater fatigue, joint laxity which could lead to more risk of injury, and increased low back pain. Right at the premenstrual period reaction time is reduced along with agility, may feel like workouts are more exerting, and more joint laxity. I also wanted to note that athletic records have been broken during every part of the menstrual cycle so the way someone performs during certain parts of the menstrual cycle is individualistic. Sometimes you might feel like your workouts are lagging and you might be questioning why, so don’t forget to keep in mind that it might be your menstrual cycle.
OTHER FACTS AND TIPS FOR WOMEN
- Increase glute activation-if your doing squats do it with a wider stance and go lower to stretch the glutes which causes more muscle recruitment, leg press go deeper without compensating your back position and have your legs wide and heels at the top of the leg press, lunges do them deeper to stretch the glute.
- Make sure to work your upper back- most women have protracted shoulders which usually is caused by upper back weakness so do face pulls, reverse flys, 45 degree wide grip lat pulldowns. Improving you posture will instantly improve your sex appeal.
- Why do I hold more fat on my butt and hips?- It might all be in the hormones because women who have high levels of estrogen carry more fat in the butt and hips. Some people take supplements to reduce estrogen to combat this problem.
- Why do I have the pooch?-Hormones can again be the answer because low levels of estrogen and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause abdominal fat, so relax and don’t be a stress case.
Alright that’s a wrap. Thanks for reading. Get that ass into shape.