How Strength Training For Women Differs From Men
Adults should strength train at least two times weekly. Advanced lifters should strength train up to six times each week, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Weight-training recommendations don't differ between men and women. However, men may have a slightly different response to strength training than women.
Muscle Mass Gains
While women and men both experience increases in muscle strength in response to weight training, men often experience larger muscle mass gains. A study published in 2010 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reports that strength training leads to slightly greater, but significant, muscle volume gains in men compared to women. Therefore, men are genetically prone to building bigger muscles than women as a result of strength training.
Men appear to show increased tendon strength in response to exercise compared with women, which may mean they are less susceptible to injury, according to a study published in 2007 in the International Journal of Experimental Pathology. However, women and men are both susceptible to injuries if they over train, lift weights that are too heavy, or strength train using improper form.
Muscular Endurance Workouts
Goals for strength training may include increases in muscular endurance, growth or strength. The number of sets and repetitions men and women should perform to boost muscular endurance doers not differ with gender. The ACSM suggests men and women should complete two to four sets of 10 to 25 reps, with 30-second to 1-minute rest periods between sets, to increase muscular endurance.
Muscle Strength and Size Workouts
While men may genetically be able to get bigger and stronger than women, workouts that boost muscle strength and size do not differ between men and women. To increase muscle volume, the ACSM recommends completing one to three sets of 8 to 12 reps, or three to six sets of 1 to 12 reps, depending on experience level -- with 1- to 3-minute rest periods between sets. To boost muscle strength, aim for one to three sets of 8 to 12 reps, or two to six sets of 1 to 8 reps, with 1- to 3-minute rest periods between sets, suggests ACSM.
Types of Exercises
Men and women should both perform a variety of upper- and lower-body exercises on a weekly basis. Major muscle groups include back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, abdomen, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Unless an injury prevents you from working a certain muscle group, aim to work each major group at least two times weekly, regardless of your gender.
Strength Training Nutrition Needs
The nutritional needs of regular strength trainers are based on body weight, not gender. Men often have more lean body mass than women, but this is not always the case. A review published in 2011 in the Journal of Sports Sciences reports that strength-trained athletes should consume 1.3 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. Calorie needs vary based on activity level, but strength-trained men often require more calories than women. Men and women who want to gain muscle mass should add about 500 calories to their menus, and adults aiming for weight loss should reduce current intakes by about 500 calories daily.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.