Gender Differences in Strength Training: Train like a Woman
Back in the day, coaches used to train women like ‘little men’. They were wrong.
There are a number of gender differences in strength training that you really need to know about. They are why training like a woman will turn you into a straight up bad ass.
When it comes to strength training many women still avoid it.
And who can blame them.
We’ve been told for years that we just can’t keep up with the guys. And if we do start strength training we’ll get big, bulky and unfeminine.
And we’re here to tell you exactly why gender differences in strength training are important and how training like a woman is your ticket to a leaner, curvier and downright sexier figure.
Let’s do this…
Table of Contents
- Gender Differences in Strength Training
- Summary – How to Train Like a Woman
Gender Differences in Strength Training
When it comes to how we differ from men, there are some pretty obvious differences and some not so obvious.
Here’s why men and women are completely different and why you should train like a woman to optimize the way your body looks and performs..
You’re just as strong as the guys. No, really
Have you ever heard this before?
‘The dudes are much stronger than the girls’.
Well, yeah at face value.
But they’re also much taller, broader and weigh more, so of course they’ll be stronger.
‘Relative strength’ is when you assess a person’s strength, while factoring in their body weight. The more you weigh, the more force you can generate.
That’s why they tend to split weightlifting into weight categories for example, so no-one has an unfair advantage.
Do you know what happens when you make it a level playing field and equate weight and muscle mass?
That strength differences disappears.
So women aren’t the weaker sex at all… only a little bit smaller.
You won’t build muscle like the guys though
Women don’t have the huge amounts of testosterone flowing through their veins like the guys do.
In fact, you’ve got around 10-15 times less.
No matter how hard you train you just can’t build masculine slabs of bulky muscle. Even with massive amounts of strength training, all you’ll achieve if you train like a woman is feminine, shapely and beautiful muscle shape.
That’s why it’s fast becoming the most popular exercise approach for women that want to look their best.
A natural testosterone booster is a great supplement to strength training for any woman wanting to burn fat and build toned muscle. It won’t get you jacked like some of the female bodybuilders you see (who all have suspiciously square jaws and deep voices of course).
But it will help to build a body you can be proud of in the fastest time possible.
Women have more muscle in their lower body
Men have more muscle in their upper body – around 60% of their total mass. The fact that they have (god damn sexy) broad shoulders, barrel-like chests and thick arms tell us that.
But we have more muscle in our lower halves.
Our butts, thighs and calves have more fat free mass than our upper bodies. And of course, our hourglass figures show it.
Equated relative strength means two things.
Leg day is fun when you train like a woman. The fact that we have more muscle down there means we can squat, lunge and hip thrust all day, while the men are left crying in a crumpled mess on the floor after just a few squats.
The downside is that when it comes to bench press and pull-ups we’re just not quite as strong as those strapping men who can rep them out for days.
But who cares when you can build that booty.
You’ve got more ‘elastic’ legs
When it comes to connective tissue, women can harness their elastic tendon strength much more effectively than the dudes can.
And this means lower levels of muscle fatigue during exercises such as running and jumping.
You get much less tiredness in your thighs and calves when you’re out running. but if you want to really train your legs in the gym you’ll need to slow your reps down to stop your elastic recoil taking over.
Aim for a rep count of 2 seconds lifting and 3 seconds lowering to build shape in your legs.
Train like a woman and ramp up the volume
During the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (from spotting to ovulation), higher estrogen levels protect you from muscle damage.
This anabolic, female hormone also helps to ‘remodel’ new muscle cells, meaning you’ve got an opportunity to grow some athletic, sexy muscle if you train in the right way.
Two ways really.
By ramping up the volume of your workouts you’ll blast through the overload barrier and stimulate more muscle damage.
Secondly, reducing your rest times helps to trigger changes in hormones that result in more growth.
So, throw in a couple more sets per exercise than you normally would and keep your rest times to 1 minute or less.
Women are super-endurance machines
All muscles are made up of a variety of different fibers. And for the most part, these fibers are split into two categories:
- Type I: Small fibers that are used during lower-intensity endurance work.
- Type II: Large fibers that kick in during strength training or higher-intensity workouts
If you were to strip your muscle down and look at it under a microscope you’d find that you have around 30% more type I fibers than a man does.
And this means that you’re more suited to endurance.
There are big big gender differences in strength training when it comes to how many reps you can complete at a given percentage of your max.
Typically, women can complete more reps with any weight that is below 80% of 1-rep max compared to men.
You really are a machine when it comes to fighting fatigue and persisting through hard sets. So don’t be scared to go for it!
Women respond to HIIT much better than men
If you take everything we’ve discussed on board already, you’ve got a lot in your favor.
- You’ve got great endurance
- Your relative strength is high
- Muscle damage markers are low
- Estrogen protects your muscles and helps them grow
Add all this together and you’ve got a recipe for high intensity-interval training mastery.
One of the most productive ways for you to get lean, burn fat and build toned muscle is HIIT.
Aim for work intervals of 20-60 seconds long and use a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio to maximize results.
Summary – How to Train Like a Woman
You’ve got some pretty unique physiology as a woman. Gender differences in strength training are important, especially if you take your exercise seriously and want to really discover a great body.
You’re resistant to fatigue and it takes a fair amount of training volume to push your fitness levels and build muscle tone.
training like a woman means gritting your teeth, getting under a heavy bar and repping away for an astonishing number of reps.
So get out there and do what you do best – train like a woman.