Should women train like men in the gym?

A common myth among personal trainers is that women should train in exactly the same way men do. It is true that the bulk of a woman’s training for weight loss goals should consist of an intelligent resistance training program with an emphasis on progressively increasing weights. However, there are some important differences in the way women train. Here are five ways to get the most out of your workouts:

1.Emphasise Glute And Leg Training 

Women and men usually have different aesthetic goals. Women often want to develop their glutes and legs while men tend to prioritise building a bigger chest, shoulders and arms. Many women will also want more well-defined shoulders and arms, but usually don’t want to build bigger pecs or traps. That doesn’t mean women shouldn’t train other muscle groups. However, they should focus on and emphasise the body parts that they do want to bring up. Women's physiology also responds best to whole body workouts, compared to body part splits due to their swift recovery capability. At ATP we construct workout plans that target specific areas with specialised glutes and lower body training systems that de-emphasise the traps.

2. Keep Your Rest Periods Short For Weightloss

Women's muscles don't get fatigued during exercise as quickly as men. Their superior stamina and endurance mean that they may benefit from significantly reducing rest periods to achieve the same training effect.  This saves time in the gym and makes workouts more efficient.

3. Workout More Frequently

One advantage of estrogen - the female sex hormone - is that women are less prone to muscle soreness after exercise, protecting against muscle damage. This hormone has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, giving women the ability to recover from workouts much quicker than men. This means the same muscle groups can usually be worked on multiple times a week and women will benefit from doing so.

4. Keep Your Sets Long

With a higher tolerance for metabolic stress, higher reps are a key factor in successful female body transformations. During exercise less lactate accumulates in the blood, allowing women to perform well at higher reps. You can also combine sets to make supersets of different exercises performed sequentially. Women generally have a higher percentage of slow-twitch fibres making them less explosive but longer lasting than men.

5. Factor In Your Female Hormonal Profile

Not many women see the single digit body fat goals of men as ideal for themselves, and few women want to be so lean. A naturally higher essential fat percentage means that in order to avoid potential health complications like temporary infertility and thyroid dysfunction, women should be wary of getting too lean too quickly. We’ve found the sweet spot of body fat for a lean body goal is roughly between the 14-18% range when measured with body fat calipers in the gym, so keep your goals realistic.

Despite these differences, we know from science and from experience that women and men all benefit from weight training, whether the goal is health, weightloss, longevity or the aesthetics of a lean, toned body.

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