Should Women Workout the Same Way as Men?

Often as a fitness trainer, I come across questions whether women should workout the same way as men. Do women respond to the training methodologies in the same way as men do? And as always my answer is a big ‘YES’. Women also need to weight train in order to remain healthy and fit and keep off the fat. There is no harm in women picking that heavy dumbbell. It is only benefits that you will gain from strength training.

It has been proven many times through research that to achieve visible changes in your appearance and muscle tone, an effective workout, especially strength training is an absolute must. Women try to reduce weight by dieting (usually over dieting, i.e. taking less food than required) and aerobic exercises coupled with some stretching. Yes, you can lose weight following this workout approach, but will you lose fat? Now you must be thinking, what’s the difference between weight loss and fat loss? If I am losing weight, doesn’t that automatically mean that I am losing fat as well? Not always… before moving further on the issue of training for women, let’s look at the difference between losing weight and losing fat.

Difference between losing weight and losing fat

When you rely only on dieting and aerobic workout to lose weight, it is always a combination of fat and muscle that you lose. Losing this muscle can be pretty bad for your health and future fat loss plans. As you lose muscle, your metabolic rate takes a plunge and with it goes your ability to lose fat and keep it off. That’s why though many women or men lose a lot of weight yet their bodies remain loose and in bad shape. For looking lean and tight, you will always need to workout with weights and that too with progressively heavier weights. Do you know that even after losing weight, you could end up being fatter than before?

Sounds confusing? It is very much possible that you lose more muscle as compared to fat when you take less than the required diet and rely only on aerobic workout to lose weight. In such a case, your lean body mass will go down while your fat stores will not decrease in the same proportion. Thus you will have more fat percentage than before. It must be kept in mind that the weighing scale is not an accurate and reliable measure to measure body fat loss. Measuring body fat percentage is a much better alternative. It should also be noted that sometimes your body fat percentage can drop down even while your body weight increases. Confused again…? It can be made possible if you gain some lean body mass i.e. muscle. And believe me, gaining this muscle mass will not make you look heavier or bulkier.

Training for women

Women should workout with weights in order to get full benefits of resistance training. And they also should not train any body parts daily. Split training is beneficial for them. They should split their training days for different body parts. And not only this, they should train with progressively increasing weights to reap the benefits of weight training. Most women think that lifting heavy weights will make them look bulkier. They fail to understand some simple facts, i.e. getting bulkier is made possible only by the intake of surplus calories. Moreover, hormones of a female body are not suited to making muscles bulkier. Muscle building is a property of testosterone, the male sex hormone and this hormone is not present in sufficient quantities in the female’s body to facilitate in achieving huge muscle mass.

So what should be the ideal workout plan for women? Constructing a weight training plan for women is not difficult if we keep a few points in mind, as enumerated below.

  • Train a body part only once or maximum twice a week. The intensity of workouts should keep changing in order to aid recuperation and recovery
  • Train with 3-4 exercises with 3-4 sets per exercise. Our objective of training is to stimulate the muscle to grow and to tone up, so hammering a body part with countless sets is not only counterproductive but also can be potentially hazardous. Three or four exercises per body part with three or four sets per exercise are sufficient enough
  • Repetition range should be for muscle failure. The repetition range for training women should not be too different than repetition range for men. 6-12 is the best repetition range for enhancing muscle mass and toning up of muscles. Any repetitions above 15 do not offer any real benefit for the muscle except increasing the endurance of the particular muscle
  • Sets must be carried to positive failure. After proper warm-up, the working sets should be carried to a positive failure, i.e. to a state where it is not possible for you to lift the weight and complete a full repetition at the completion of the set. This failure must be achieved in a 6-12 repetition range
  • Weights should be progressively increased. As you progress, the working weights should progressively keep increasing so as to keep you challenging and improving your muscle’s tone and strength. It is best to keep a workout log which allows you to record your weights used as well as the sets and repetitions performed
  • Never train your abs daily. Abs are just like any other muscle. They also need recovery. Moreover, what most people don’t understand that training abs daily will not make that fat go away.

So, don’t let ignorance stop you from achieving complete fitness and health. Include weight training into your workout regimen without any worries.

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Yogaditya Singh Rawal

National level competitive bodybuilder, Mr. India 2016 (Federation Cup Bodybuilding), Certified Fitness Trainer (ISSA-USA), Performance Nutrition Consultant, Diet Consultant, Writer, and Practitioner of Ancient Indian Battlefield Art 'Sanatan Shastra Vidya'. He runs a gym (Total Training Terminal) in East Delhi.

About the Author

Yogaditya Singh Rawal
National level competitive bodybuilder, Mr. India 2016 (Federation Cup Bodybuilding), Certified Fitness Trainer (ISSA-USA), Performance Nutrition Consultant, Diet Consultant, Writer, and Practitioner of Ancient Indian Battlefield Art 'Sanatan Shastra Vidya'. He runs a gym (Total Training Terminal) in East Delhi.
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