Is Training Women Different Than Training Men? From a males perspective.

My favorite guy is back with another awesome post for us!  In case you missed Dan’s first post, you can find it here.  A little intro: Dan is an epidemiologist, strength & conditioning coach, indoboard and slackline master, loves burritos, makes the best pancakes every and is probably the strongest guy I know in real life.  He’s also super smart and I’m psyched that he agreed to write for me since my brain was not functioning today 😉

In this article, Dan helps debunk five myths that, as women, we are taught to believe when it comes to strength training. 

If you’ve ever stepped foot inside a gym you’re definitely going to relate to what I’m saying.  You’ve got the cardio area a.k.a. the ‘Lady Lair’ and you got the free weight area a.k.a. the ‘Bro Zone’.  Women typically do all cardiovascular training and men usually do all heavy lifts.  Why is this?  Well aside from all the ‘bros’ making the free weight area stink to high hell and sweating all over the world, there is no reason why women should stray away from the heavy lifting area.  There are a few reasons I’ve heard from clients about why women won’t use resistance training in their workouts.  Let me go ahead and try and make my case as to why they should.  Here are some of the things I’ve heard:
1) Women shouldn’t lift heavy—they aren’t made for it
Women CAN do (and SHOULD do) anything men can do!
Men and women are obviously different.  They have different body parts, different attitudes and all that jazz. Yet if we take a closer look at some body parts that we share, there is nothing too different about them.  A woman’s shin bone is made up of the same stuff as a man’s shin bone.  A man’s bicep is composed of the exact same material as a woman’s bicep.  In fact, pound for pound (of muscle) a woman’s muscles are able to impart just as much force as a man’s muscles.  Men just have more testosterone and are able to build muscle a lot faster, hence why they’re typically stronger.  But if we compared both sexes’ strengths per gram of muscle in a controlled setting, they’re the same.
2) Women will get hurt lifting heavy
I would go out on a limb as to say men are more likely to get hurt: men don’t know when to stop.  I’ve seen way too many ‘bros’ try and load up the bar and throw their back out because they wanted to impress the whole gym with their ‘bro’-ness.  Here are two things to remember:

1) You want to overload your muscles, so use a weight that feels as if you can only do a couple more by the end of your set.

2) Don’t go too heavy to the point of bad form—don’t kill yourself; live to see another day unlike your ‘bro’ over there.
3) Lifting Makes Women Bulky
I guarantee you will not get bulky.  Women get the ‘toned’ look they’re chasing more often from heavy lifting than anything else. Women have relatively very low concentrations of testosterone and other anabolic hormones that men have an abundance of.  During recovery, men are typically able to develop more muscle and get larger; women have a much harder time with this physiologically.  This means women don’t build as much muscle and therefore have that more toned look instead of bulk.  If that still doesn’t convince you, look at some professional natural female body builders.  These are the women who spend hours a day in the gym, eating carefully calculated diets and treating their bodies to everything and anything (besides ingested and injected hormones and steroids) that will make them bigger for years upon years.  If they can’t look like the hulk, I’m sure you can rest easy knowing your 85lb. bench press won’t jack you up.

Note from Lauren:  Just to back up Dan on this one…TRUTH!!!!  Even when I was trying to bulk it was insanely hard!  SO much food, SO many workouts, it’s hard work to get that bulky look as a woman.  Ladies, lift heavy and watch your beautiful, lean muscles come through 🙂
4)  Women Should Stick To Bodyweight Exercises
Recently, I’ve become an Instagram sensation (@letsdolegs—excuse me while I marvel at my 235 followers ;)) and I see so many fit women doing body weight squats and lunges advertising, “Hey! Try this workout!” all over Instagram.  These women are missing the one of the key principle of exercise: Overload.  When you exercise, you’re supposed to subject your muscles to movements it is not accustom to.  Look at Lauren’s Instagram @the_fueled_physique, she uses crazy amounts of weight when she needs to in order to make her workouts insanely difficult.  We use our legs to walk, climb stairs, run for the bus and stand up every day; are ‘body weight’ squats really all that difficult?  Maybe.  They could be the hardest thing in the world for some and that’s great!  Keep at it! But if they aren’t, you’re not overloading anything.  Add some weight with the squat rack or dumbbells or kettlebells!  Again, do a weight that feels as if you can only do a couple more by the end of your set.  Allow yourself to struggle.  Exercise isn’t magic, just doing the movements sometimes doesn’t cut it.  There is a reason the ‘bros’ are sweating all over the world.
5) Women Will Get Hit On If They Enter The ‘Bro Zone’
Well, sorry ladies… can’t help you here.  I’ve heard some crazy horror stories about how annoying guys can be and I really feel for you, I do.  Here is what I can say: if you out-squat some guy he will probably cry.  And you know what they say: ‘You ain’t ballin’ if you bawlin’. So get to work! Note from Lauren:  this is true…Dan cries all the time when I out-lift him…it’s embarrassing, really 😉 .
There’s no list of ‘Females Exercises’ just like there isn’t a list of ‘Male Exercises’.  Trust me, I know that there are certain things about women that need consideration during an exercise program.  They typically want to focus on legs, glutes, abs, triceps.  However, women can still train just like a guy trains.  Try and do some stereotypical ‘bro’ exercises.  Just make sure you have some proper instruction, proper weight (not too light, not too heavy) and a friend who can help you spot if need be. 

 

Good luck!

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