Does Gender Influence Strength Training?

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

Gender Differences

For example, research has examined the potential influence of the female hormonal cycle on adaptations from resistance training and/or injury risk. However, findings were 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. This said, there is variability both within men and women as to how large the Q angle is.

From another ‘angle’, females do, typically, have a smaller distribution of upper body muscle mass than males. This can influence how much they can lift. However, the differences between the genders are less pronounced when it comes to lower body strength.

From an absolute strength perspective, men are always stronger because they, typically, have more mass. But, from a relative strength perspective, males and females can be quite close.

In contrast, when it comes to fatigue resistance, females generally have a higher fatigue resistance than males, enabling them to lift the same weight for more repetitions – possibly due to a higher percentage of type 1 muscles fibres.

Treat Each Client Individually

Exercise professionals should ensure they treat their clients individually, for example:

  • Individual strengths and weaknesses;
  • Mobility; and
  • Prior injury history.

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

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