Should women train differently to men?

More women than ever are strength training: in gyms, at Crossfit classes, for sport or health or physique goals. It’s quite a remarkable shift in the trend. Women sometimes outnumber men in the weight room, and strength events like Strongman (should that be Strongwoman!) boast huge influxes in the amount of women wanting to put their strength to the test.

But personal trainers, coaches and anyone who strength trains will still hear question: should women train differently to men?

We’d love to know what you think. But for now, here’s our take…

Our answer is: no, if the goal is the same. If a male and female gym-goer both have the goal of getting stronger, losing body fat, getting leaner or building muscle, then the basics of strength training are applicable regardless of gender.

Women's Fitness

Of course, there are some differences between men and women and they can’t be ignored. But it’s nothing to do with (perceived) strength or physical ability. The one difference which should be taken into account is that of hormones. Men and women do have dramatically different levels of hormones and these will affect everything from recovery rate between training sessions, to the ability to handle volume of training, to psychological and mindset issues. Clearly, men and women also build muscle at different rates.

So perhaps the question shouldn’t be should women train differently to men, but “should men and women have different expectations from strength training?”

We think the sensible answer to that one is: yes.

But when it comes to training for strength, power, size or body recomposition, anyone (regardless of gender) should focus on the big, key lifts (squat, deadlift, row and press), mastering technique first before worrying about volume. Throw in some metabolic conditioning work, some chilled out cardio (we like walking) for body and soul, and focus on recovery as much as training, and you’re good to go. Regardless of your chromosomes!

What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion.

Tags: , ,

About Nicola Joyce

Nicola Joyce is a freelance journalist, features writer and copywriter who has been writing about sport and fitness for magazines, newspapers, books and corporate clients since 2004. Formerly an endurance athlete who has swum the English Channel (twice!) and taken part in long triathlons, running races and cycle sportives, she is now a competitive bodybuilder who has taken part in several British Finals of drug-tested natural bodybuilding federations. When she's not training or writing, she blogs about writing, fitness, sport and training at
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.