Every day, more women are moving from the cardio room to the weight room. It’s a welcome transition; getting stronger can transform their self-esteem, confidence and self-efficacy.
Supporting your female clients’ strength-training ambitions is fundamental to their long-term success. Women and girls enjoy a wealth of benefits from resistance exercise.
To name a few:
- reduced injury risk
- better cardiovascular health
- stronger bones
- protection against diabetes
- less inflammation
As more women flock to strength training, however, fitness professionals face a host of challenges. For starters, the research on weight training for women is relatively new, and there are fewer studies on women than there are on men. Also, the physiological differences between genders is either misrepresented or not discussed.
We aren’t that much different. In equally trained men and women, research finds most strength differences result from differences in muscle size, not gender. This shows that a man and a woman with the same muscle size should display the same amount of strength. Thus, we can retire terms like “toned” and “girl pushups”—and the pictures of pink dumbbells—because women should and can do the same exercises your male clients do.
Program Design for Women
If muscle growth is the main goal, keep in mind that women are more resistant to fatigue than a male would be. Programming sets in the 6- to 10-repitition range prove maximal muscle growth and maximal increases in strength.
Women should consider harder-intensity training sessions with supersets and timed rest periods because they can theoretically handle more work then men. More challenging workouts with higher fatigue will help achieve the most muscle growth.
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