Should Men and Women Train Differently?

Updated on April 7, 2020

There is no denying there are visual differences between female and male bodies but fundamentally we are all made up of the same fibres, bones, nerves and connective tissues. This is why you won’t normally see exercises targeted specifically to women or men but instead, everyone is considered capable and to be aware of their own limitations. 

Evolutionary however, there were several roles that have influenced the modern-day body’s response to certain regimes or diets, beginning with the hunter gatherers all those millenia ago. When you consider traditional ‘tribes’ you often conjure images of strong, well-built men out hunting large wild animals and the women remaining ‘home’ at camp to raise the children. However, some women were also hunters but more commonly, women would often travel huge distances carrying their partner’s hunt or their children as old as 4 years old on their backs. 

This endurance-based lifestyle meant that today women’s bodies do need slightly different ‘fuels’ to provide energy during their workout regimes and are better adapted to certain exercises than men.

Resistance to Fatigue

Untrained bodies have a similar muscle fibre structure but this changes in different ways when men and women start strength training. In a man’s body, muscle fibres are converted to type IIa fibres, known as fast twitch fibres which provide additional strength but fatigue more quickly. In a woman’s body, muscle fibres do not convert at all or convert into type I fibres, which are slower with less power but take much longer to fatigue. 

This means women’s bodies during strength training are designed to last longer, with a greater resistance to fatigue and to accommodate this difference, women should add further reps to their exercise sets.

Distance over Speed

Explosive training or HIIT workouts are great for fitting full-body exercises into a single session however, for women don’t offer as much benefit due to their resistance to fatigue. Men that have converted their muscle fibres into type IIa fibres are naturally going to produce tension much faster and can recover faster from hard and fast style workouts such as sprinting. In women, the recovery process after an explosive training session is much longer with fewer positive results. 

In summary, a man will build greater muscle protein after a sprint than a woman but a woman can gain the same amount of muscle protein performing the same strength training as men. Additionally, exercise bikes are an excellent piece of fitness equipment that can benefit both women and men according to their health goals, accommodating high-intensity fitness and resistance training. Consider a used spin bike or refurbished exercise bike for getting started with your own home gym, not only cost-effective but they come in a variety of sizes to suit your available space. 

A Difference in Diet

The recommended number of daily calories differs between men and women by approximately 500 additional daily calories for men. While it isn’t broken down into recommended portions of different food groups, when it comes to exercising and training – there are variations between what men and women should be including in their diet. 

A man completing the same intense workout as a woman will burn more carbohydrates and more protein but less fat. This is most commonly down to the nature of women’s bodies and that they have a greater fat percentage than a man of the same weight. Although it can also be influenced by the presence of estrogen in women’s bodies which in turn decreases the need for glycogen reliance. 

Both bodies have a tendency to store fats in different places, a woman’s body will store fats around their thighs, lower abdomen, buttocks and hips in preparation for pregnancy, whereas a man is more likely to naturally store fat around his upper abdomen and commonly leads to the ‘beer belly’ appearance. This can also influence the type of fat-burning workouts that both genders include in their regime as they aim to burn fat from targeted areas. 

In conclusion, there are some key differences but not enough to influence entirely different fitness regimes for both men and women and it’s down to the individual to look at how their body is fundamentally structured and include workouts that cater to their personal fitness goals. 

Image Credits

Should Men and Women Train Differently 1
Shutterstock – Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1592073358
By Vadym Stock

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Shutterstock – Royalty-free stock photo ID: 496140826
By Dean Drobot

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