So you’re ready to start exercising, and you start researching workout plans for women (or men) in particular. 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? Let’s look at the few but important differences between the male and female body.
Different Hormonal Profiles
Women are at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to building muscle. However, for the women that are afraid that strength training will bulk them up, this is a huge plus. The testosterone levels of men are about 8 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.
Testosterone is one of, if not the most powerful muscle building hormones in the human body. 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 second major difference between men and women is strength. Now, I say this with the experience that I know many women who can run faster or lift more weight than men. However, generally and genetically speaking, women have slightly less strength capability than men. This is mainly due to hormonal disadvantages.
What does this mean exactly? Very simply, it means that many women will not be able to execute the same exercises as men. The pullup is just one exercise that comes to mind, although I’ve seen plenty of men strike out on their pullup attempts too. Again, I am making a broad generalization.
What Does This All Mean?
It means that men and women should train differently, not because they want the muscles of a man or woman, but because their natural abilities are different. In other words, 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.
Women that are afraid of getting too big need to do intense strength training, and pay close attention to their nutrition. Their fear of bulking up is a result of excess calories, and not the type of exercises they use. If your goal is to put on muscle, why not do it in the most efficient way possible? If you ever reach a musculature that you are happy with, all you need to do is maintain your current strength levels, and keep your calories under control. Your nutrition is going to play the biggest role for whether you get bulky or not.
For women, recovery times can also be inhibited. Lower testosterone levels mean you build muscle at a much slower pace. You have to be careful that you aren’t over-training. Allow yourself plenty of time for recovery.
So, the next time you’re searching for a new workout routine, don’t be afraid to choose one that’s performed by the opposite sex. Men, if you see a woman who is in great physical shape, chances are, she knows exactly what needs to be done with exercise and nutrition to get results. If you apply her program to your own training regimen, it’s every bit as likely that you will get similar, if not better results.
Women, if you see a man that is in great physical shape, don’t be afraid to listen and apply his principles to your training. Pay close attention to your nutrition, and allow yourself plenty of time to recover, and you very well could be much happier with your progress.
How do you train? Do you feel your workouts are more male or female oriented?