Injuries in the Female AthleteApril 9, 2022
Strength Training for WomenApril 24, 2022
Should women train the same as men?
Although March has passed, we are keeping with our women’s history month theme! In this blog, I want to spend some time focusing on the ladies here, addressing a question that many may have – Should women train the same as men?
If you do a quick google search on this, you’ll see that the fitness community as a whole is very divided when it comes to answering this question. Many articles cite hormonal factors, muscle fiber type, and even pelvic shape as playing a role in the differences in training. While other articles go as far as to suggest that not only should women be training the same as men, but in some ways, they can be more efficient and effective than their male counterparts in a similar workout session! So, what is the correct answer?
The short answer is YES, ABSOLUTELY YES we should train the same as men!
But I get it, there are questions about that response. Let’s dive deeper.
You might be thinking any of the following:
- I don’t want to bulk up, and if I lift weights like men then I will.
- But what about our different body shapes? Doesn’t that affect the way we should train?
- Our bodies are just not built for lifting weights.
- I don’t even know where to start, and the gym environment can be so intimidating.
- I don’t need to strength train because I do a lot of cardio and I’m strong from that.
If you’ve had any of the above thoughts or questions at any point in your life, then you’re in the right place!
As Ashley spoke about in last week’s blog, we need to get over the idea that just because we are women, we are not capable of being strong. Or that just because we have different Q angles or hormones, we are less capable in the gym. Let’s just throw those ideas right out the window.
Instead, let’s focus on things we can do to educate ourselves and future generations of women on how to become the strongest versions of ourselves we can be!
From a musculoskeletal standpoint, there should be no differences in capabilities between men and women. We both have the same muscles that all function in the same way. A squat will still work a woman’s glutes the same as it will work a male’s, just as a lunge will work a woman’s quads the same as it will a male’s. Our bodies know movement and, with proper training, become very effective and efficient at what they do!
That’s all fine and great, but won’t I bulk up if I start to lift like the men??
Well, probably (at least a little)! When we challenge our muscles properly, we will see muscular hypertrophy as a natural response. But unless you’re training to meet a specific goal (such as training to compete in a weightlifting competition), you will be able to tailor your workouts appropriately to maintain a specific strength. Will you end up super bulky if you lift heavy weights? Not necessarily! But being able to carry your cooler from the car to the beach without the help of a man is definitely worth it!
Okay, so I’m ready to start lifting but I am so intimidated by the gym environment, and I don’t even know where to start
I hear you! I’ve been there myself. Following my senior soccer season in college, I ended up injured and unable to run. I had spent relatively minimal time in the weightlifting area of the gym before this injury and I had no idea where to even begin. So, what did I do? I started by educating myself on the machines available in the gym and the types of movements I would have to train to hit all of the major muscle groups. I learned what weights and movements felt good for my body and which were uncomfortable or too difficult. I learned proper form by watching weightlifting videos and asking for help when needed. It became a non-negotiable part of my workout routine. Was I one of the only girls in the weightlifting section of the gym? Yes. But I learned that it didn’t matter what others were doing. All that mattered was how I was feeling. I also learned that I really really liked being strong. Now, almost 10 years and a lot of education later, I make sure to prioritize weightlifting each week. And, through my work, I aim to educate as many ladies as possible on the benefits weightlifting and training properly can have on their lives.
So, let’s make 2022 the year that women make a statement in the weightlifting community! Go with a friend, a sister, or even your mom, and get those bodies moving! Cardio is great for our health, there’s no doubt about that. But strength training is just as important! Our muscles are designed to move, be used, and be strong! Let’s show up and let the men know that all of the squat racks are not reserved for them alone. We are here, we are strong and we are not going anywhere!
If any of this resonated with you and you want to share any stories about your gym journey, please share! Let’s build up our community of strong, healthy women together!
Until next time!