Lots of women avoid going to the gym and weight training. Some fear that this type of training can increase muscle mass and make the body appear too “masculine” which put’s some people off the gym altogether. It’s about time we challenge these myths!
Lots of people are curious as to whether women should even do strength training as many prefer fitness classes, yoga and pilates. In this article, we go through the differences between men and women and what the benefits of weight lifting are for women.
Strength training is critical and has many excellent benefits. In fact, strength training helps burn body fat and increases lean body mass. These changes may result in a slight increase in weight as lean mass is denser than fat. People get carried away with reading the numbers off the scales, when in fact it doesn’t really matter when it comes to weight training as muscle weighs more than fat.
However, women have many different physiological characteristics than men. For this reason, it is a lot more difficult for women to gain mutscle in comparison to men.
1. Differences in hormone concentrations
The main difference in the mechanism that determines adaptations to the training of men and women is the male hormone, testosterone. Both men and women produce testosterone. The difference is that men have concentrations that are 10 to 20 times higher than in women! Testosterone is a natural anabolic steroid that provides men with a naturally higher and superior muscle development. Men have an immediate advantage when it comes to strength, power and speed.
2. Differences in muscle fibres
There are two different types of muscle fibres: slow twitch fibres (type I) that are used primarily in endurance efforts; and slow contraction muscle fibres (type II) that are used primarily in rapid and explosive movements. It is important to incorporate both slow and contracted movements as well as explosive movements into your training. Although women have the same types of muscle fibres as men (both fast and slow), the number and size of the muscle fibres in women are much smaller and shorter than they are in men.
3. Differences in strength and power
For the reasons explained above, women simply do not have the same genetic profile and hormonal factors as men. Roughly speaking, a woman’s total body strength is around 60% of the overall body strength of a man. The average upper body strength of a woman is between 25 to 55% compared to men. As for lower body strength, the average is 70-75% in relation to men.
To conclude, women will benefit greatly from weight training and do not need to worry about the endless myths that we hear daily.