There was a time when people believed that women had to train in a different way than men, with light loads, high repetition, super slow tempo, and especially, but above all, avoid high-protein diets. Fortunately, that era is over and we know a lot more about what women should really focus to get results through their workouts.
But do women should really train the same exact way as men?
From a general point of view, 90% of the direction of your program is substantially identical. Perform the big basics, train for strength, hypertrophy, power, and all sort of goal specific training. Try to hit muscle with a frequency of 2 or 3 times a week, and finally, push yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Pretty same as any dude looking to add strength and mass to their frame.
But there are some points on which women can benefit from by tweaking them into their program.
1. The majority of women have an ideal physic in mind
While the general directions of the workout should be to lift big coumpound lift, you can tweak in the direction of their ideal physic goal. Most women don’t necessarily want a big wide torso, big arms and prefers nice muscular and tone thighs and glutes with well rounded shoulders that fits into their favorite dress.
What I mean is that it is ok to put greater emphasis on specific muscle and body parts. For example, when I train a bikini athlete, I put a lot more emphasis on glutes and shoulders as they play a bigger role in the final product they’re looking for. Pecs and arms are not that necessary and can even alter the proportion that can make a winning physic.
Do not be afraid to create a muscle disbalance or long-term injuries If you do the basic strength work. Creating an illusion and proportions that are not functional is the basis of fitness.
2. Women should do more volume
Sorry guys, but I got to admit it, girls are winners in the total volume they can endure. In fact, they should do more volume. Not only their recovery capabilities are better, they need less rest between sets, and less rest between training session. They can do more reps and sets at a X% of their 1RM than men can do at the same %.
What you can do is simply adding exercises or sets in their workout, or adding non-muscular specific exercises. If they are in a mass building phase, adding extra volume/sets and exercises is a good way to promote hypertrophy at a chosen body parts.
If their goal is pure fat loss, adding metabolic and plyometric exercises can be a great tool to get a higher calories expansion from the workout itself.
We don’t exactly know the reason why, but this could be to a higher level of oestrogen and even if you guys fear oestrogen like pestilence, this hormone aids in recovery.
3.They need more single leg work
Due to their genetic structure, they are more prone to injury concerning the knee joints and ACL. So, a good way to balance their physic and strength is to add single leg exercises. Keep the bilateral strength exercises as the core of your workout, but add some single leg work working in the 6 to 12 reps range.
Share the volume equally between knee dominant (split squat, lunges, step-up, etc…) and hip dominant exercises (single leg deadlift, single leg back extension, single leg glute bridge/hip thurst, etc…).
4.Women benefits from speed and plyo work
Women tend to have generally less type II fibers than men, which often makes them more comfortable with higher repetitions. What is problematic is that many women spend their time developing their muscular endurance while their goals require to build muscle mass.
A good way to work those muscle fiber is to use speed and plyo works. I mean any kind of exercises that uses jumps, projections, fast quick turnover, speed squat, throws, etc…
Why? Several reasons amongst others that they stimulate the use and growth of muscle fiber type 2. They are also a great addition for calorie expenditure. A projection or a jump at full capacities demands to release a far greater amount of energy than exercises like curls at the biceps or abdominals on machine. It is also surprising to see an increase in muscle definition in the lower body after a few weeks of using this type of exercises.
5. Work with their monthly cycle
Yes there is a time is a time of the month where everything seems to fall apart. The mirror seems to reflect a different image from the previous week. Aggressive and energetic behaviors or craving, lethargy and emotions, you don’t seem to know what to choose.
For some, it is a great time to shoot more volume, going heavier and put more intensity in your workout. For some other, it is better to drop volume and put more rest. This can be a deload week too.
Finding the right cues in those moment can give a good indication of the direction to be taken when programming. Work accordingly. If the periods time allows for higher intensity, adjust progression to hit higher intensity every 4 weeks +/-.
On the contrary, if lower volume and intensity is the way to go, set a deload weeks in the period time and work volume and intensity according to it.
The take home point is that men and women can train together in the weight room, even share a similar program. The major difference relies in the 10%. Tweaking some strategies you can use to bring them to their best can make all the difference in the long run.
Article written by : Stéphane Aubé - HUNGRY FOR VICTORY