For decades men and women have been training differently. But that doesn’t mean it was right… You’d generally expect to see men lifting weights and women performing slow, long distance cardio.
However, in recent years, women have become more accepting and willing to lift weights in order to get into shape. It’s great, and you can see that more and more women are achieving their goals and getting the physique they want!
But that still doesn’t address the question…RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Should Men and Women train differently?
The answer is YES.
Buy why? Well before I get into ‘Why’, let me tell you that although they should be training differently, they shouldn’t be training that much different.
For achieving general fitness goals (eg. lose fat, build muscle, get “toned”), a combination of heavy weight lifting and aerobic exercise will help both genders tremendously. But both genders respond a bit differently to each form of exercise and therefore exercise should be modified to best accommodate everyone’s needs.
This topic is massive and if I were to delve into the science it would take thousands of words. So I’ll tell you a bit about the hows and the whys.
Most of the physiological differences between men and women revolve around hormones and anthropometrics (bodily measurements).
Men are naturally stronger and can build muscle easier than women
That is mostly due to hormones and the fact that men have multiple times the amount of testosterone compared to women.
Strength is also effected by hormones but more importantly the discrepancy lies in that men and women have different anthropometrics. Basically meaning men and women have unique features when it comes to limb lengths, hip width, Q-angle, bone density, etc.
For example: A typical man is structurally built with wider shoulders and different muscle attachment lengths. This allows men to gain a mechanical advantage on something like a bench press. On the hand, women tend to have proportionately bigger legs and are way stronger in lower body lifts than upper body compared to the same ratio in men.
Other important physiological difference include: muscle fiber make-up and differences in oxygen uptake.
Muscle fiber make-up
Men tend to have more type 2 muscle fibers (the strength fibers) and women tend to have more type 1 fibers (endurance). That would explain why men tend to lift weights and women opt to do cardio. Think about it, you to lean towards something you’re naturally better at!
This isn’t 100% set in stone, there are some women who are stronger than some men, have more type 2 fibers and vice versa.
Men and women respond differently to how well they utilize oxygen. Studies show that men are better at shorter races, and women are better at ultra long distance races. This also may be the reason why women recover much quicker between sets of exercise compared to men. Most men I train perform best with 2-3mins rest between sets of 70-80% 1RM. Most women I train are telling me they’re ready to go after just 1 min!
Due to the consistent changes in hormone levels throughout a woman’s cycle, certain types of exercise are more appropriate than another depending on where they are.
The follicular phase is best to train hard and eat carbs to fuel hard workouts. Insulin sensitivity is higher then. Whereas the ovulation phase increases the risk of injury if you’re training too hard due to lower collagen and higher estrogen. This phase DOES however show an improvement in strength.
So what’s the bottom line?
Men and women should apply the same overall rules and guidelines, but alter them slightly to benefit each gender respectively!
Connect with Expert Chris Diamantakos. Male and Female Workout