Does Gender Influence Strength Training?

There are some differences between the genders that can influence training, although to what extent
is debatable.

Although studies have been conducted that examine the potential influence of the female hormonal cycle on adaptations from resistance training and/or injury risk, the results are inconclusive.

In terms of anatomical differences, a larger quadriceps angle (‘Q angle’), or the angle at which the femur meets the tibia, is thought to contribute to more anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries among females.

However, research suggests there is variability within both men and women as to how large the Q angle is.

Women do typically have a smaller distribution of upper body muscle mass than men, which can influence how much they can lift, although differences between the genders are less pronounced when it comes to lower body strength.

If one looks at absolute strength, men are always stronger because they typically have more mass, but when comparing men and women for relative strength they can be quite close.

Interestingly, women tend to have a greater fatigue resistance than men, allowing them to lift the same weight for more repetitions, possibly due to a higher percentage of type 1 muscle fibres.

However, the bottom line is that exercise professionals should look at a client’s individual strengths and weaknesses, mobility and prior injury history, rather than focusing on gender.

There is as much variability within men as there is within women, to the point where differences between genders is probably not as great as the variability within a group of women or men.


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