Weights for Women – Don’t Worry About the Weight!

Weights for Women – Don’t Worry About the Weight!
Although weight training has traditionally been thought of as a male activity, research over the past 35 years has provided information that supports and refutes many of the previously held beliefs about the male/female differentiation in physiological performance. In spite of all the research, many of the questions asked all those years ago, are still being asked today.
Women, on the average, are about 65% as strong as men. Very few dispute this assertion due to obvious physical differences in males vs. females. On the other hand, when other factors are taken into consideration, there are great variations from one part of the body to another, and in various movements of the same body part. For example, even when body size is taken into consideration, men are as much as 60 – 65% stronger than women, in upper –body strength. Conversely, in terms of lean body mass, women are generally stronger than men in lower body strength.
As to the question of possible skeletal muscle differentiation between men and women, the actual muscle fibers are identical, although research suggests that there are subtle differences in the total makeup of muscle mass.
Researchers have seen that the cross-sectional area of muscle fibers is smaller in women, and there may be a difference in the number of fibers per specific muscle, versus men.
Generally, women have more Type I (slow twitch fibers) and men have more Type 2 (fast twitch) fibers. Type 2 fibers tend to get larger (hypertrophy), so males have a head start when it comes to increasing muscles mass.
Women sometimes avoid resistance training for fear of looking too muscular, and less than feminine. Society, traditionally, have expected men to appear muscular, and women to be leaner. Physiologically, it is difficult for women to add excessive muscular mass. Without supplementation, resistance training, for women, typically results in a reduction of the amount of fat over the existing musculature, with a moderate increase in muscle size. The resultant effect is more muscle definition. Certainly, a low-fat, lean-muscled female shape is not a negative. In the unlikely event of a resultant level of muscle hypertrophy that is unwelcome, program modifications will reduce that effect.
Although ancient by this time, the term muscle-bound continued to find life in some literature. Properly performed resistance training, far from decreasing flexibility, can actually increase average flexibility. There is no need for women to avoid strength training for fear of limiting flexibility. A pre-workout stretching regimen can not only increase flexibility, but may decrease the possibility of injury.
Although a traditional strength training program will have little, if any effect, on cardiovascular endurance, a circuit-training program has shown a beneficial cardio effect, in some studies. Generally, there should be no difference in the cardiovascular effect of strength training, between men and women.
Because of individual differences, standardized programs do not provide uniform change. Although women may not start at the same strength level as men, they have the ability to gain strength at the same rate as men.
Resistance training is equally valuable for both men and women.