I often get asked what the key differences are between designing strength programs for males compared to females. Although there are some factors such as menstrual cycles, age and hormone differences, the basic principles are the same for both genders.
These basic principles are:
- Initially train bodyweight to create good movement patterns to prevent injury and also create strong neural pathways with correct form.
- Incorporate core strengthening movements (abs and lower back) to build a good foundation that will help protect the spine and once again help prevent injury.
- Perform compound or multiple-joint exercises such as deadlifts instead of isolation movements like bicep curls, and focus a good deal of their training on the "posterior chain"—hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
All in all, strength training gives males the same benefits that it offers females. Studies have proven time and time again that strength training has an effect on helping increase bone density, which decreases the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Now, regardless of all the great research out there to do with strength training, I still get asked the same question from females...
"Will I end up looking like a man if I lift weights?"
or hear the old
"I don't want to do weights because I don't want to look bulky"
Soooooo much work goes into building muscle, from consistent structured weight lifting to a disciplined calorie-dense nutrient-rich diet and more. If it was that easy most guys would be jacked all year round.
Then hormones come into the equation like testosterone and estrogen.
Now, as a guy who struggles to put on or even maintain muscle at the best of times, listening to ladies tell me they're getting too bulky after lifting weights for two weeks, or even two months, drives me crazy.
Men produce on average 10 times more testosterone than females and still a tonne of guys feel the need to inject, swallow or rub in extra amounts of "test" into their system to help get simple gains. So unless you're a female taking steroids or other male hormones, lifting weight will not make you look like a man. Not to mention that muscle distribution between males and females is quite different in the upper body, which is why men carry more muscle up top.
The bottom line is: females can train like Tarzan, and still look like Jane!