Female Fitness Training – Is There Really a Difference?
The "battle of the sexes" may have been a household word in 1973 with Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King lobbing tennis balls at each other, but today there's no longer a debate whether female fitness training makes a difference. From both a psychological and a physical perspective women are different and understanding those differences is key to reaching your fitness goals.
Men and Women Get Fit Differently
In research done by Weight Watchers and reported in the Washington Post, when the goal was weight loss women opted to go on a diet and men went to the gym. Part of that may stem from the fact that women are less likely to have been active in sports during their teenage years and feel intimidated when faced with a fitness world that is completely foreign. But incentives matter. Women may get active in order to enjoy that extra glass of wine with dinner or having a guilt-free dessert while men hit the gym as a badge of honor. Women tend not to push to their ultimate capacity and men tend to overdo it.
Understanding the Female Form and Function
One of the biggest advantages when it comes to training women is understanding their differences and embracing them. Dr. Douglas Fields, neurobiologist and author of The Other Brain, observes how men and women Olympians use different biomechanics to become top competitors, "Differences between genders are so numerous, we are often oblivious to the obvious. Women and men move differently." And the most obvious reason is that men and women have different center of gravities. That reality changes form and function for women who have a lower center of gravity whether you're a runner, cyclist, weightlifter or swimmer.
Body Chemistry Counts
Another secret weapon to female fitness training is understanding body chemistry. The presence of testosterone in men makes building muscle ten times more effective than in women, but estrogen helps women burn more fat during exercise and makes them incredibly suited for endurance sports. According to Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of medicine at McMasters University, the female body goes into survival mode when faced with losing body fat, "Women are probably going to have to work a lot harder and incorporate interval training to challenge them more."
If you're female, looking for a trainer, make sure they offer sex-specific training. The difference will be worth the search.