Exercise Built For Women

When I walk around the gym and take notice of those who look lost and a little intimidated by lifting weights, nine times out of ten it’s either the elderly, teenagers or women. I don’t mean that in any way as a derogatory statement but  just as something I’ve noticed. I haven’t done a lot of research on why this is but I do have some observations.

#1 In my opinion, women aren’t as naturally interested in weight training as men

#2 The larger more muscular men seem to intimidate the smaller less experienced women

#3 Women sports in High School  are less about strength training but endurance and agility. So, many women have less experience lifting weights than men who played sports in High School or College.

If these “observations” are in fact true, it’s no wonder why women may be a tad “lost” when it comes to weight training. The fact is men and women’s bodies are about as different as apples and oranges.

Let’s look at some facts on the womans body and then we’ll discuss exercises that are built more for the female body.

  • Women are meant to have higher body-fat percentages than men. It’s nature’s design. Eight percent of a woman’s body composition is reserved for essential fat, whereas for men the percentage is five. [1]
  • Men have a greater percentage of muscle mass as compared to women. Muscle also accounts for the higher calorie need for men in contrast to women, and the significant weight difference as well. Muscle is denser than fat. This means that even if a man and woman weigh the same amount, the man will appear leaner than the woman because he has more muscle mass than she does. He also has a higher calorie need because muscle consumes more calories than fat. [1]
  • Because of the differences in muscle and fat composition between men and women, there’s also a difference in water composition. Where body fat contains very little water (25 percent), approximately 75 percent of muscle tissue is made up of water. While it might seem counterintuitive given that complaints about bloating are generally regarded as a “female issue,” water makes up around 60 percent of a man’s body mass as compared to 50 percent of a woman’s body mass. [1]
  • The International Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis affects about 200 million women worldwide. Women start with lower bone density than their male peers and they lose bone mass more quickly as they age, which leads to osteoporosis in some women. Between the ages of 20 and 80, the average white woman loses one-third of her hip bone density, compared to a bone density loss of only one-fourth in men. [2]
  • 68 percent of the 44 million people at risk for osteoporosis are women. [2]
  • One of every two women over age 50 will likely have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. That’s twice the rate of fractures in men — one in four.[2]
  • 75 percent of all cases of hip osteoporosis affect women.[2]

So given the fact that a women’s body fat percentage, muscle mass, bone structure  and their water composition is completely different from a man’s, why would a woman try to perform the same exercises as a man? If your answer is “Just to show you can”  might mean you’ve got the wrong mind-set. It’s not a matter of if you can but should you?

So what type of exercises should a woman perform?

Focus more on aerobic exercises that burn calories and slowly  build muscle over time. Muscles work like an elastic bands around the bones strengthening them which aides in preventing Osteoporosis. But women don’t need the same amount of muscle mass as a man. So stick to exercises that promote cardiovascular endurance over those that build massive amounts of muscle.

Example: Perform a circuit consisting of Push Ups (at least 15) , Jumping Jacks (1 minute set), sprints, light weight dumb bell curls (at least 12 reps), lunges and squats. Do this Circuit 3-5 times with a 3 minute rest between circuits.

How much weight should a woman lift?

This is really on a case by case basis but I would not suggest any exercise that would be considered “heavy lifting”. Since a womans bone structure and muscle mass is not as strong, lifting heavy could cause strain and may lead to injury. Stick to lighter weights and concentrate on more reps. Don’t avoid squats or leg presses (typically heavy lifting exercises) just reduce the overall weight.

How “hard” should a woman work out?

Since women have less muscle mass than men it means she will have to work twice has hard to burn the same amount of calories. So it’s very important to push yourself extremely hard while working out. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and HIRT (High Intensity Resistance Training) are great ways to burn massive amounts of calories and build muscle as well.

 

Example: The circuit example above would be a great idea for HIRT and even HIIT. Sprints on a tread mill or on a track would be a great HIIT. (sprint the longs and walk the shorts).

Knowing your body and understanding how to get the best out of it is the key to success. Finally, being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be as fit as a man, it just means you’ll do things differently.

Be well,

Lyell

references:

[1] http://www.ehow.com/list_5980882_differences-men-women_s-body-types.html#ixzz1VxgsE7lW

[2] http://www.everydayhealth.com/osteoporosis/osteoporosis-and-gender.aspx

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5 thoughts on “Exercise Built For Women

  1. I fully realize that blogging is an expression of one’s personal opinion and for that I will cut you some slack, but to type this as advice is asinine and incredibly misinformed and to put the icing on the cake….amazingly sexist. But despite that, what is all the more frustrating is the fact that there are no scientific facts to actually support your opinion.

    Yes women have lower bone density, but it has been proven that strength training especially lifting heavy increases bone density and can prevent osteoporosis. There are several risk factors that can explain why more women have osteoporosis than men, one of them being more women suffer from anorexia (which causes bone loss) and another is because not nearly enough women lift weights, especially heavy weights. So your advice is not only misinformed but also perpetuates the likelihood that women would continue to suffer from osteoporosis if following your advice.

    Yes women have higher body fat and lower muscle mass, but so what? Obese men have a higher body fat and lower muscle mass than thin men? Should they therefore not lift heavy weights? How does one build greater muscle mass? By lifting heavy weights. Just like a man, if a woman wants to lower her body fat percentage and increase her lean muscle mass she has to lift weights. And an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat percentage regardless of sex means a higher metabolism AND greater bone density.

    I’m not using the term heavy here to imply that a female has to do bicep curls using 50lb dumbbells, because heavy is relative to the female. Heavy lifting should be challenging, but it should be a weight that she can handle and as her strength increases so should the amount of weight she lifts. If she can handle the weight for 5-6 reps, despite it being heavy there should be no reason to be concerned about strain or injury. And I have personally seen more men try to lift weights that were too heavy for them resulting in injury than women. Most women don’t have anything to prove at the gym, while it is generally the exact opposite for men…who will unwisely or unsafely try to lift what they see other men doing just to see if they can, even if they aren’t conditioned yet to lift that weight.

    I think it was at this quote “But women don’t need the same amount of muscle mass as a man. So stick to exercises that promote cardiovascular endurance over those that build massive amounts of muscle.” that made me stop and hope that this blog post was a joke, but sadly I kept reading and it only got worse. You say women don’t “need” the same amount of muscle mass as a man, but if you even studied a little bit you would already know that women cannot build the same amount of muscle mass as a man, it is impossible because women don’t have the testosterone. Even years and years and years of heavy lifting will not produce massive amounts of muscle in women. However, women need strength and that means an increase in muscle. In fact everyone does. Everyone should be strong enough to be able to lift at the very least their own body weight, especially in any type of emergency situation where that might be a necessity.

    I can’t even touch the water composition, because that is completely irrelevant to anything and I have no idea why it would even matter.

    Ultimately you asked this “why would a woman try to perform the same exercises as a man? If your answer is “Just to show you can” might mean you’ve got the wrong mind-set. It’s not a matter of if you can but should you?”

    I honestly don’t know any women that would answer that question with “just to show she can”. A woman would try to perform the same exercises as a man because she wants to better her health and fitness just like a man. Men and women have the same muscles and the same exercise a man would do to build a stronger back for better posture so would a woman. A man wants to sprint faster or jump higher so he builds his quads and hamstrings, so too would a woman. A man wants to be able to do more pushups so he bench presses and works his chest muscles…do you think that women magically use different muscles when performing pushups than men do? Of course not, so she too has to work her chest muscles.

    Body fat percentage, bone density, and for goodness sake water composition have absolutely no bearing on how women and men SHOULD workout and to imply that it does demonstrates a keen lack of understanding of how the body actually works….whether the body is male or female.

    So the longwinded response to SHOULD a woman lift heavy weights or exercise like a man….the answer should be yes for the health benefits alone, but reality is that not all women are interested in weight lifting regardless of its benefits so the answer really is….only if she wants to.

    • Thanks for your reply. You make some valid point…You said..

      “Yes women have lower bone density, but it has been proven that strength training especially lifting heavy increases bone density and can prevent osteoporosis. There are several risk factors that can explain why more women have osteoporosis than men, one of them being more women suffer from anorexia (which causes bone loss) and another is because not nearly enough women lift weights, especially heavy weights. So your advice is not only misinformed but also perpetuates the likelihood that women would continue to suffer from osteoporosis if following your advice.”

      Well that’s why I suggested women should lift weights. Perhaps you missed that? The post is titled “Exercise Built For Women” not “LIFTING HEAVY IS BAD FOR WOMEN AND GUYS ROCK”. You don’t have to lift extremely heavy weights to build muscle mass, which as you reaffirmed, helps prevent osteoporosis. That’s also why I said “it’s on a case by case” situation. If you, as a woman, want to lift heavy then by all means lift heavy. It serves a purpose but it’s just not necessary. I also believe the same for men. There are muscle heads at the gym that can bench 400 lbs but can’t run a mile. If a person wants to lift heavy so they can build strength and mass then that’s OK but its not necessary for weight loss and I don’t suggest it for people trying to maintain weight loss. Its not about how much you lift but the intensity you bring to your workout (and your diet) that promotes a healthy lifestyle. You have to pick a weight lifting routine that fits your fitness goals..

      And you obviously didn’t read my post..
      “Yes women have higher body fat and lower muscle mass, but so what? ”
      As I pointed out that if a MAN has MORE muscle mass than a WOMAN he naturally burns MORE calories during a workout. This is one of the main reasons why a man can burn calories faster than woman. Its not sexist as you put it, its science. Women, mainly over weight women, get very frustrated that men can lose weight faster than women….well this is a major reason why.

      “I can’t even touch the water composition, because that is completely irrelevant to anything and I have no idea why it would even matter.”

      Water composition plays a major role in weight loss. Women naturally retain more water than men. When was the last time you heard a guy complain about being bloated? If a woman has less muscle mass and MORE water composition, wouldn’t that naturally make it harder for her to lose weight? I think you read ONE of my posts and have no idea the point of this blog. I want to assist people in weight loss and changing their lives. If you understand your body and how it works, you will be more effective and less frustrated when attempting to lose weight.

      OH and thanks for proving my point here and being sarcastic. I love sarcasm..

      “I think it was at this quote “But women don’t need the same amount of muscle mass as a man. So stick to exercises that promote cardiovascular endurance over those that build massive amounts of muscle.” that made me stop and hope that this blog post was a joke, but sadly I kept reading and it only got worse. You say women don’t “need” the same amount of muscle mass as a man, but if you even studied a little bit you would already know that women cannot build the same amount of muscle mass as a man, it is impossible because women don’t have the testosterone”

      So me saying that a woman doesn’t need the same amount of muscle mass and you saying that women can’t have the same are different statements in your mind? Again the point in saying this is that if you can’t have or don’t need the same thing, why would you perform workouts that are counterproductive to your body? Work outs DO NOT EQUAL particular exercises. Women need to try and gain MORE muscle mass but they can achieve this using different methods. Muscle heads and silly trainers think the only way to do this is to lift heavy and that simply isn’t true.

      You took offense to me saying that implying that woman don’t need or maybe shouldn’t do the same exercises as a man. But that doesn’t change the fact that the point is valid. I’ll say it again, it comes down to personal choice. If you WANT a stronger back then you’ll need to perform exercises to achieve this. I never mentioned that women shouldn’t perform the same exercises but implied the amount of weight she uses doesn’t need to be extremely heavy.

      If you want to lift the same or do the same exercises as a man then by all means go for it. No one is going to stop you or call you silly. BUT AGAIN it’s not necessary. Each person’s goals are different and some women seek a more muscular body but the truth is most women prefer a slim, fit body.

      “Body fat percentage, bone density, and for goodness sake water composition have absolutely no bearing on how women and men SHOULD workout and to imply that it does demonstrates a keen lack of understanding of how the body actually works….whether the body is male or female.”

      Well this simply isn’t true. Actually it’s quite naive. Everyone is different and should approach lifting weights cautiously. Remember this is a site dedicated to weight loss or did you not read anything else but this ONE post? I lost 100 lbs by eating right and exercising. I aslo helped my wife A WOMAN lose 60. Have you ever done that? People who are attempting to lose weight HAVE to work out completely different from everyone else. ITS SCIENCE.

      “So the longwinded response to SHOULD a woman lift heavy weights or exercise like a man….the answer should be yes for the health benefits alone, but reality is that not all women are interested in weight lifting regardless of its benefits so the answer really is….only if she wants to.”

      Funny how I pretty much said that right off the bat. Again thank you for re-proving (is that a word?) my point.

      Cheers!

  2. I’m 66 inches tall and weigh in the low 120s. I lift “heavy” (at least for me); bench press, deadlift , squat, etc. and found that the heavier the weights, the leaner I’m getting. I’ve been lifting for almost a year too. I don’t look manly but rather decidely more feminine because of the exercises I’ve been doing. I think I look better now (at 40) than I ever did at 30. When I mainly focused on cardio, I had next to no muscle yet was super-slim. I like the way I look now much better. Cardio does have its place but for me, strength training is my priority. Just my .02 cents. :)

    • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! BTW your .02 cents is worth 1000 pounds in gold. This is my whole point and what I’ve been preaching for years. The more muscle mass you have, the more fat you will burn and the leaner you will look. You don’t have to lift like a man (i don’t mean that in a derogatory way) to get lean.

      Thanks again for your comment and Im glad your 40’s will be better than your 30’s :)

  3. I’m 66 inches tall and weigh in the low 120s. I lift “heavy” (at least for me); bench press, deadlift , squat, etc. and found that the heavier the weights, the leaner I’m getting. I’ve been lifting for almost a year too. I don’t look manly but rather decidely more feminine because of the exercises I’ve been doing. I think I look better now (at 40) than I ever did at 30. When I mainly focused on cardio, I had next to no muscle yet was super-slim. I like the way I look now much better. Cardio does have its place but for me, strength training is my priority. Just my .02 cents. :)

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