The T-shirts aren’t fitting well anymore. Your waistline seem to increase. Gosh!, you look so ugly in the mirror….You say to yourself, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT! …Sounds cliche?
So, you sign up at the gym and you’re ready to start exercising. You start researching workout plans for women (or men) in particular…..WOAAAH!! hold on a second right there.. WHY?!?!?.. While there are some differences between the male and female body, the way muscle grows is not one of them. So then, why all the gender specific workout routines?
The most likely reason? People are afraid their training will make them look like the opposite sex. By this I mean that women are afraid of getting too big, and men are afraid of not getting big enough. Aren’t these fears unfounded though?
Recently, I’ve been receiving questions on how females should train. Most have the goal of looking leaner, toned, and more curvy. In this post, I wanted to answer the most frequently asked question, “Should Women train differently than men? ”
Short Answer: No, not really.
Let’s look at the few but important differences between the male and female body.
Testosterone is one of, if not the most powerful muscle building hormones in the human body. Women are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to building muscle. The testosterone levels of men are about 10 times that of women. This means that women have to train much harder and smarter to add similar amounts of muscle as compared to a man. And NO, lifting weights will NOT make you bigger. Why? Building muscle is very, very, hard. Ask any guy. There is a reason we train year in, year out, eat ridiculous amounts of animal flesh, and cherish any small, muscular changes. And that’s with the hormonal benefits from testosterone helping us out!
Lower amounts of testosterone mean that you will have a smaller degree of protein synthesis. Being that your muscles are made of protein, you can see how lower testosterone levels make it more difficult to build muscle. The common misconception that women will get huge from lifting weights is one of the biggest fitness myths out there. The main reason comes down to hormones. Women just CANNOT produce as much testosterone as men. Period. Throw those 0.5lb pink dumbbells away and lift heavy ladies!!..This leads to right to my next point…
2. YOU SHOULD LIFT HEAVY
Men and women sometimes both have similar goals. In fact, for most females to get “toned”, lifting weights is precisely what they should be doing. First of all, there is no such thing as “toning” a muscle. What you are really asking for when you say this is more muscle mass and less body fat. And the only way to achieve this is to build lean muscle by getting stronger, lifting progressively heavier weights, and burning fat through high-intensity cardio.
But wait, won’t lifting heavier weights make me bigger?” NO. Unless you are taking external testosterone, training with way too much volume, and consuming a ton of excess calories you won’t be getting bulky. You just CANNOT.
With that thought, I recommend all women do some sort of heavy training once per week.
Try squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push presses, and rows for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps with the heaviest weight you can safely do. You will thank me for this later.
3. SPOT REDUCTION IS A MYTH
Men and women deposit fat differently. Men generally carry more body fat centralized around the abdomen whereas women carry more excess fat around the hips and thighs. For both genders, spot reduction is a popular topic. In most cases, body fat is lost evenly throughout the body. Therefore, in order to be leaner in a particular area fat loss needs to occur all over.
Overall, diets should be the same as far as focusing on macro-nutrients (especially protein and carbohydrates). However, the amounts and total caloric intake will obviously be much less for women due to muscle mass differences and total body weight.
5. RECOVERY TIMES
Women recover faster than men do. In most training programs, the prescribed rest times are built around males and, in actuality, are too long for females. If you see rest times of 90 – 120 seconds, women should probably shave 30 seconds off those intervals (60 – 90 seconds).
The exercises you use, and the intensity at which you use them should be no different between genders. However, the way you plan your recovery time and nutrition very well should be different.