Should women train differently than men?

Kshitij roy
Kshitij roy

 | 1 minute to read
Exercise Science

Should women train differently than guys? Should they fear weights or embrace them? Would they grow muscles and look burly if they train with weights? Should training be more gender-specific? 


 Let's find out! First of all, let's talk about how a woman's body differs from a man's and why they respond differently to a training session.  
 * Lower muscle mass, different muscular structure: Generally, women have 2/3 of the muscle mass as compared to men. The rate of muscle growth is slow, as well. In most cases, the upper body tends to have lesser lean muscle mass; thus, exercises like push-ups, pull-ups being a common weakness. And quadriceps group can be dominant in most women as compared to men. These things are not BAD, these are just different human designs. * Hormonal differences: Lower' testosterone' - which might not help build up lean muscles quickly. Dominant 'estrogen'- helps in quicker intra- workout recovery (will explain in a minute). * Higher rate of glucose uptake: Glucose uptake is all about processing the fuel & turning it into usable energy for muscles. This is higher in women as compared to men leading to quicker recovery between 'sets' (will address this in a minute too). * A higher proportion of type 1 muscle fibres & capillary density: Type 1 muscle fibres can hold more 'mitochondria', and for endurance activities, they are necessary. How 'estrogen' and 'higher glucose uptake rate' cause quicker recovery and better endurance? Glucose is vital in a metabolic process & is responsible for muscles to do their job. Men have a higher rate of elevated fasting blood glucose than women. In layman terms, they have higher available energy to perform single heavy lift. Women have it lesser, so they won't be able to do a heavy single as compared to men. But women have a higher rate of glucose uptake than men. So, if a woman is doing 5 sets of any exercise, glucose uptake helps her access more fuel for the muscles for each set she performs. That's because we have estrogen receptors on mitochondria. If we give muscles strong stimulus by heavy lifting, they will demand higher bouts of energy. Since women have more estrogen, the receptors at mitochondria recruit as many hormones as they need. And, that leads to a higher rate of glucose uptake too, hence, creating necessary energy to perform the next task of strength. In short, Men handle heavier loads in shorter time duration, women handle lighter loads over a more extended period. Hence, women recover well have better endurance. 
 So, should men and women train differently? Not necessarily! The volume (load*sets*reps) of the workout will definitely differ, but not the general principles of staying fit. Lifting adequately, a proper nutrition plan & good rest is the basic recipe of fitness for both men & women. Besides, strength and toned up body is something on most women's wish list. This is the better way to attain it. 
 No lady! You won't get muscular & manly, just because you train with weights! Women don't have those levels of testosterone required for this to happen (unless supplemented with additional testosterone). The images of such muscular women that you see have gone through 6-7 years of heavy lifting and supplementing with steroids (in most cases). So, you needn't worry about all this and lift. It tones muscles better than cardio. And if it ever gets challenging to choose between cardio and weights, then it's better to incorporate the best of both worlds, in a strategic way of course.
 Bottom line- Yes, women are different (or maybe even superior) physically, mentally and emotionally. Still, training plans don't HAVE to differ from those of men. Just compare the articles in men's fitness magazines to women's magazines. In men's magazine, the title might go like 'Do this for a ripped physique'. Whereas in women's magazine, similar training idea/plan would be conveyed under the title, 'Tone your body by doing this.' Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10769046 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26301952 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182862

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