Why Women Need Resistance Training!

It’s stunning to me that myths surrounding weight training and women still exist, and worse yet, it’s the same myths I was hearing a few decades ago! It seems I can dispel these myths ’til I’m blue in the face, and yet, they persist! In addition to the myths, it seems many women are simply unaware of the many benefits weight training – also called resistance training or strength training  – can impart. Some of those benefits are sex specific in fact, that is, they are specific to women.
The following review below from the “THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTS MEDICINE”  covers the major myths, which are:

  • Myth 1: Strength training causes women to become larger and heavier.
  • Myth 2: Women should use different training methods than men.
  • Myth 3: Women should avoid high-intensity or high-load training.

For commentary on those myths above, see the review below. In addition to covering the myths, the review does a fine job of listing the benefits for women, which are :

  • Enhanced bone modeling to increase bone strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Stronger connective tissues to increase joint stability and help prevent injury
  • Increased functional strength for sports and daily activity
  • Increased lean body mass and decreased nonfunctional body fat
  • Higher metabolic rate because of an increase in muscle and a decrease in fat
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence

One benefit I think this report missed, is strength training reduces the risk of sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is an age related loss of muscle mass which negatively impacts health of men and women. However, because women have less muscle mass to begin with, they are at a greater risk of sarcopenia as they age. I highly recommend women reading this also read my article on sarcopenia and how to avoid and or treat it. Most women are aware of osteoporosis -as it’s been drilled into their head via the media – but know little of sarcopenia, which is arguably more important to women than osteoporosis!Without further delay, here is a great review on the importance of strength training for women with some old, yet enduring, myths debunked!

Strength Training for Women: Debunking Myths That Block Opportunity

 
William P. Ebben, MS, MSSW, CSCS; Randall L. Jensen, PhD

THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE – VOL 26 – NO. 5 – MAY

In Brief: Traditional gender roles and differences in absolute strength have resulted in misconceived approaches to strength training for women. Male physiology, more than hormones, explains men’s superior absolute strength. When other measures of strength are used, such as strength relative to cross-sectional area of muscle, the strength of men and women is nearly equal. Women who practice the same well-designed strength training programs as men benefit from bone and soft-tissue modeling, increased lean body mass, decreased fat, and enhanced self-confidence.
Although American women first began strength training for sports in the 1950s to improve their performance in track and field, they have traditionally participated in strength training less than men. Such exercise has not been considered feminine, and a lack of research and information regarding the effects of such training on women has made it a predominantly male activity. Women’s participation was particularly limited until 1972, when Title IX mandated equal access to educational programs—including athletics—for men and women in schools that receive federal funding. Since then, women’s sports participation has burgeoned, traditional gender roles have loosened, and strength training has grown in popularity among active women.

Nevertheless, the social stigma and lack of accurate information persist and feed misconceptions that keep women away from strength training or prevent them from training in optimal ways (see “Dispelling Misconceptions,” below). Though gender differences regarding absolute strength exist, women are as able as men to develop strength relative to total muscle mass. Consequently, women should strength train in the same ways as men, using the same program design, exercises, intensities, and volumes, relative to their body size and level of strength, so they can achieve the maximum physiologic and psychological benefits.

Gender Stereotypes

Our culture has traditionally viewed strength as a masculine trait and promoted a small, frail body as feminine. Consequently, girls have been discouraged from participating in gross-motor-skill activities and strength development. Such sex role stereotypes, formed early in childhood, can dictate behavior and limit women’s and men’s ability to express their full humanity. This means that some women may have never achieved their potential for physical well-being, fitness, and athletic participation.
The advent of the women’s movement in the 1970s allowed many women to overcome such traditional socialization and participate more freely in sports and strength training. However, change occurs slowly, and physical strength and strength training are still not as common or accepted for women as they are for men.

A Gender Gap in Strength?

Research (1,2) on male and female strength potential reveals that women possess about two thirds of the strength of men. However, the measurement of strength in absolute terms fosters misconceptions about the strength of women, how women see themselves, and the way they exercise.

What causes this strength difference? Are there ways to conceptualize strength that affirm women’s potential and encourage their development?
The role of hormones. Hormones play a role in the development of absolute strength in men and women, but the exact influence is not clear. The androgens that come from the adrenal glands and ovaries are the hormones most likely to influence strength. The most important androgens for strength development are testosterone and androstenedione. The absolute androstenedione response to weight lifting is similar in females and males (3).

The role of testosterone in strength development is complex and significantly more variable than that of androstenedione. Though women on average have about one tenth the testosterone of men (4), the level of testosterone varies greatly among women and influences women’s strength development more than is typical in men (3). Women who have higher testosterone levels may have a greater potential for strength and power development than other women. An individual woman’s testosterone level fluctuates, so a woman who is near the upper limit of her testosterone threshold may have an advantage in developing strength compared with other women. Though hormones may influence strength development potential among women, they most likely do not account for significant male-female differences in absolute strength.

Physiologic factors. Physiologic differences such as size and body structure are more likely explanations for the average absolute strength differences between men and women. For example, the average American male is about 13 cm taller than the average female and about 18 kg heavier. Men average about 18 to 22 kg more lean body mass and 3 to 6 kg less fat than women. Men typically have a taller, wider frame that supports more muscle, as well as broader shoulders that provide a greater leverage advantage.

The Strength of Women

Strength, however, should not be viewed in absolute terms. The gender differences in absolute strength, for example, are not consistent for all muscle groups. Women possess about 40% to 60% of the upper-body strength and 70% to 75% of the lower-body strength of men (3). Men may have an advantage in neuromuscular response time that results in greater force production speed than women (5). However, the distribution of muscle fiber types—fast and slow twitch—is similar in the two sexes, and women are able to use a greater portion of stored elastic energy than men during activities in which muscle is prestretched, such as in the countermovement prior to jumping.

More significantly, if the amount of lean body mass is factored into the strength equation, the relative strength difference between men and women is less appreciable. Based on a strength-to-lean-body-mass ratio, women are about equal in strength to men, and when strength is calculated per cross-sectional area of muscle, no significant gender difference exists. For example, a 15 cm2 cross-sectional area of an arm flexor has about 19 kg of force for both women and men (6).

Measuring strength in this way suggests that muscle at the cellular level has a force development capability independent of sex and that women benefit from strength training at least as much as men. Hence men and women should follow strength training procedures that include periodization, variations in the resistance training program that are implemented over a specific time, and exercise performed at intensities and volumes suited to physical ability and level of strength conditioning. Ultimately, each athlete should be assessed as an individual, and training programs should meet individual needs and goals, rather than those based on preconceived ideas about gender.

The Benefits for Women

Women benefit from strength training in several ways (table 1).
Table 1. Strength Training Benefits for Women*

* Enhanced bone modeling to increase bone strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
* Stronger connective tissues to increase joint stability and help prevent injury
* Increased functional strength for sports and daily activity
* Increased lean body mass and decreased nonfunctional body fat
* Higher metabolic rate because of an increase in muscle and a decrease in fat
* Improved self-esteem and confidence

* A number of factors may reduce or eliminate these benefits, including the exclusive use of weight training machines, training with loads that are too light, and not progressing in resistance or intensity.

Bone and soft tissue. Women, more than men, need to meet the minimal essential strain required for bone modeling to occur and ultimately for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Prevention of osteoporosis requires above-normal axial skeletal loading (7,8). The strain tolerance for skeletal bone is believed to be more than 10 times the typical load that humans bear in daily activities (9). Since bone modeling is proportional to the degree of overload (the amount of stress applied beyond the normal load), the greater the overload- within limits-the greater the amount of bone modeling. Bone modeling helps prevent fractures and insure against osteoporosis.
Cartilage, tendons, and ligaments also have minimal essential strain requirements. Optimal strength development requires loads and intensities that progressively increase the training stimulus or stress. Strong cartilage, tendons, and ligaments are essential for joint integrity, stability, and injury prevention.

Lean body mass and fat. Strength training also increases lean body mass and decreases fat; this results in less nonfunctional fat to carry and a greater proportion of lean body mass, which can provide functional strength. Compared to fat, muscle is metabolically active and increases metabolic rate, fat oxidation, and calorie consumption. Increased muscle mass and muscle cross-sectional area also correlate with increased strength. Participation in “functional” strength training exercises will develop functional strength and most likely improve performance, whether it is an increased ability to spike a volleyball or pick up a child.
Psychological well-being. Finally, studies (3) suggest that women who engage in strength training benefit from improved self-esteem. Female athletes appear to be able to balance strength and femininity; according to one survey, 94% of the participants reported that athletic participation did not lead them to feel less feminine. Strength training also appears to give women a sense of personal power, especially for women who have been raped or abused.
Such psychological benefits arise from the physiologic changes that occur as a result of strength training and from the process of encountering and mastering physical challenges. Thus, both the process and the outcome of strength training benefit women (3).

Strength Training Guidelines

Since well-designed strength training programs include exercises with free weights and dumbbells and exercises that use body weight resistance, both women and men should include these in their training, and women should train at the same intensities as men.
The use of strength training machines and abdominal exercises need not be discontinued, but emphasis should be placed on the use of free-weight exercises including foot-based lower-body exercises such as the lunge, diagonal lunge, walking lunge, step up, lateral step up, and squat. Women should also include upper-body exercises that employ multiple muscle groups such as the bench press, incline press, latissimus dorsi pull-downs, pull-ups, and back extensions. Finally, women who have developed a strength base should consider total-body exercises such as the push press, hang clean, power clean, clean and jerk, and snatch.

A training program should also stress multiplanar, multijoint, functional exercises because they develop intermuscular coordination, proprioception, and balance and result in strength that transfers to sports and daily activities. For example, the step-up exercise is superior to using the leg-extension machine because it offers functional strength for walking up a flight of stairs while carrying bags of groceries. For athletes who play foot-based sports such as basketball, the squat is superior to using the leg-press machine, since the squat is functionally more similar to the sport and requires greater balance and weight and body control in all three planes of motion.

Fostering Strength
Though sex role stereotypes still powerfully shape our culture and behavior, physical strength is no longer the sole domain of men. More and more women are claiming strength as their own through participation in sports and especially in strength training programs. Such participation helps to counter the stereotypes and fosters an appreciation of strength as desirable for women.
References
Dispelling Misconceptions
Recent studies counter several widely held beliefs that may limit the physiologic and psychological benefits of weight training for women.
Myth 1: Strength training causes women to become larger and heavier.
The truth is, strength training helps reduce body fat and increase lean weight (1). These changes may result in a slight increase in overall weight, since lean body mass weighs more than fat. However, strength training results in significant increases in strength, no change or a decrease in lower-body girths, and a very small increase in upper-extremity girth. Only women with a genetic predisposition for hypertrophy who participate in high-volume, high-intensity training will see substantial increases in limb circumference.
Myth 2: Women should use different training methods than men.
Women are often encouraged to use weight machines and slow, controlled movements out of a fear that using free weights, manual resistance, explosiveness (high velocity, low force), or exercises that use body weight as resistance will cause injury.
In fact, no evidence suggests that women are more likely to be injured during strength training than men. Proper exercise instruction and technique are necessary to reduce the risk of injuries for both men and women. All strength training participants should follow a program that gradually increases the intensity and load.
Furthermore, sport-specific exercise should closely mimic the biomechanics and velocity of the sport for which an athlete is training (2). The best way to achieve this is to use closed-kinetic-chain exercise that involves multiple joints and muscle groups and the ranges of motion specific to the sport. For example, the push press—rather than triceps kickbacks—offers a superior arm extension training stimulus for improving the ability to throw the shot put in track and field.
Myth 3: Women should avoid high-intensity or high-load training.
Women are typically encouraged to use limited resistance, such as light dumbbells, in their strength exercises. Often such light training loads are substantially below those necessary for physiologic adaptations and certainly less than those commonly used by men.
Most women are able to train at higher volumes and intensities than previously believed. In fact, women need to train at intensities high enough to cause adaptation in bone, muscle, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. When exercise intensity provides insufficient stimulus, physiologic benefits may be minimal (3). To gain maximum benefit from strength training, women should occasionally perform their exercises at or near the repetition maximum for each exercise.

The Brink Bottom Line: If women don’t weight train, they are making a mistake….

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31 Comments
  1. Elissa 11 years ago

    LOL – you don’t quite get it, Will. The reason the “myths” persist, is because they’re perfect excuses to avoid venturing into this area. It has nothing to do with logic, so being logical isn’t going to get you anywhere.
    Beyond the reluctance (on the part of both men and women) to work hard, most people – men as well as women – don’t like sticking out like a sore thumb. And busting through gender stereotypes means sticking out. You implicitly made this point yourself in your post about the Celine Dion concert. In short, people like to stay within specific, gender-identity “comfort zones.” This has changed a lot in certain areas, but others have been slower to evolve. Weight lifting is an example of the latter.
    When I go to the gym and hit the free weight area, I’m one of the few (if not the ONLY, at times) women there. Heavy lifting is “gendered” and the gender happens to be male. Thus, many women implicitly shy away from it, and use excuses such as “I don’t wanna get all big an’ bulky” since they sound more plausible than “I don’t want to feel weak and out of place next to all those men.”
    By the same token: how many men do you see in Pilates or Yoga classes? Flexibility and relaxation are important for men too, but such classes are gendered “female,” so the vast majority of men avoid them.

    • Jim 4 years ago

      Great post Elissa.

  2. Beverly Aldridge 11 years ago

    Wonderful and important article on imporance of weghts, Mr. Brink.
    Now if I could just find a DVD of a weight routine, how nice that would be!.
    Thanks.
    Beverly Aldridge
    beverly@beverlyaldridge.com

  3. GunsNposes 11 years ago

    Elissa makes a good point about getting past the culture “barrier” that separates women from the ‘heavy metal’ side of strength training.
    She has worked past it and is admired for what she has accomplished by those who have met her in person or in the FLR & BBR forums.
    I notice that women who fear getting started, do better overcoming the intimidation when they partner up with another woman to explore weight training.
    The same goes true for men who shy away from alternative training like pilates, yoga, or even spin.
    and yet started out has done so quite successfully is quite impressive side and into the weight

  4. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    As an ex ballet dancer, taker of occasional yoga, and great shoe shopper, I don’t suffer this culture barriers you speak of 🙂

  5. GunsNposes 11 years ago

    Good for you Will, appreciate you coming out like that.

  6. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    LOL. Coming out? No, but I just don’t care about gender specific stuff people tend to get hung up about. Life is too short to give a damn what others might think is not a “manly” activity.

  7. Joyce Price 11 years ago

    Thank you Mr Brink, in the past I have certainly been concerned that I would become overly bulky but I am fully aware now that this is a myth but your article only adds assurances.

  8. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    Knowledge is power Joyce! 🙂

  9. Robyn Booth 11 years ago

    Like Elissa, I am often the only female in the free weights section of the gym and I agree that it is a fear of failure and being out of place that keep the girls down the other end. And yes, I too keep telling my friends about the benefits of weight training, but am constantly given the reply of not wanting to get bulky. I don’t know how to get through to them. I have shown them articles like this, but to no avail. I will keep persisting as I am addicted to the buzz of weight training.

  10. Philip (fairlane) 11 years ago

    I see more men doing pilates and aerobic classes than I see women in the free-weight area of my gym. Those that are, are being “trained” (wrongly I might add) by either mis-informed men, or the gyms trainers themselves. I think also there is a bit of “I-don’t-want all-the-men-staring-at-me-while-I’m-working-out” syndrome coming from some women. I know one woman actually told me that. Yes she was gorgeous, but I tried to reassure her that men are staring because we’re sick of staring at other men, please send more women our way 🙂 – After a while we won’t notice, I promise 😉 I sometimes notice even men won’t work in with a woman say on a bench press because of the disparity in loads between each. How sad. I don’t give a shit who I work in with, whether they are ten times weaker than me, or ten times stronger. I just want to get my stuff done, and if it’s a woman, so be it. If I get asked for ”advice”, and sometimes I do, I usually find out that they aren’t doing the same exercises as men are, for the above reasons. I never understood that either and always told women, there’s no reason you can’t do the same stuff we are. In fact, most women would confide that they really want to. Well, ladies, go ahead. To hell with who’s watching, to hell what others may think, as the commercial says – JUST DO IT.

  11. Carol 11 years ago

    Thank you for your article Will and for the posts here on the blog about weight training for women. When I was fit and strong awhile ago (got out of training and got fat – ugh!) a female said to me ….”Wow, you are buff!” I didn’t know what that meant… she explained that it was a compliment and that I looked fit, trim, muscular. I lifted often, did martial arts 3-4 times a week and ran/biked and did cardio karate. Life changed… I got LAZY… and junk foody…. and I am not happy where I am… So I am starting back to the road to recovering my body through weight trainig and good choices with proper diet. I look foward to the blog and future posts. Need to get this 185 lb 5ft 4in female who is blubbery back to the buff 5ft 4in – 130’s (I never checked my weight back then)…. I just fit in my clothes and felt great. I want that back. So, I will work at it… one day at a time….. starting today. Thanks.

  12. Vickie 11 years ago

    Bravo Will!
    I’ve been a big fan of weight training for some time. Though not currently at an ideal weight *cough*, I do lots of weight training, load bearing exercises and whatnot. I can’t stand aerobics as marketed to women, or dumbed-down Yoga. Itty bitty little pink dumbbells only suitable as paperweights. I’ll take the real deal and I’ll do what I can to be the best me I can be.

  13. Pam 11 years ago

    I’m also a fan of weight training! Not only does it do wonders for me physically but mentally as well (go into it mad/stressed and walk away light as a feather feeling great). With the assistance of weight training, I lost 80 lbs over the past two years. I’m not a cardio chick by any means unless it involves the outdoors. You do what works for you and your body. Health and Happiness are the most important things to concentrate on while your alive….the otherstuff that you deal with are just tests.

  14. Frances Hayday 11 years ago

    Will, After a period of illness from which I am recovering, I am switching from strictly swimming, to swimming and resistance training. I am quite weak, even after a lot of distance swimming over a year, and feel daunted by the prospect of gaining strength in my muscles starting at the beginner’s level of resistance training. Will it get easier, and will I gradually gain strength, going to the gym 3-4 times per week, or should I go every day for 30-45 minutes? Anything you have to say to help would be appreciated. Thanks, Frances

  15. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    Carol. Yes, start today! As you said, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. Lots of free articles on my web site too for additional info. Make sure to take a “before” pic so you can see what progress is made over time.
    Vickie, lift heavy and often! No pink weighs for you!
    Pam, 80lbs lost and kept off is something to be very proud. I don’t even know you, and I’m proud of you! 🙂
    Frances, I know what it’s like to deal with illness (read my latest interview) and have also have to find ways of making sure to workout. Life happens, and you have to work with what you have. Articles on my site give some suggestions about basics of days per week. For example, see the article “Follow The Kiss System For Success” for some ideas.

  16. May 11 years ago

    This is a great post Wil yet being a female nurse, personal trainer and family member, I have to agree with Elissa…. women just can’t get past certain issues when it comes to strength training.
    Even the term alone is enough for me to see them shudder! Myths will continue and until they do it themselves, they will never learn. I know, I was one of those women who would lift weights but very light weights and do 20-30 sets. I was terrified of bulking up and looking like a “he she” from Supersize She.
    My boyfriend laughed at me and he continued to push me to try heavier weights. I gave in and since he volunteered to spot me, I was okay with it… hence Elissa’s point about a female psyche and hanging around the weights) He put me through heavy bicep curls, bench presses and back and leg workouts. After 10 years of lifting weights, it wasn’t until I went heavy with my boyfriend that I started to see “tone and definition” to my arms and legs.
    Until we can find ways to get women to BELIEVE and actually walk to the dumbells and know that it will tone and define their body rather than bulk it… these myths will continue to persist.
    There needs to be a challenge contest of before and after pictures of women who go from no strength training to strength training 3x/wk!!

  17. Author
    Will Brink 11 years ago

    Thanx for the thoughtful comment May. With ladies like you and Elissa out there acting as examples for others, we can change the “toning and firming” community of women into those who realize weights – and heavy weights at that – are the way to go if you want a lean healthy body. Also, see my blog post on common industry terms I hate for more comments on “toning and firming”

  18. Maiya 10 years ago

    i just wanted to say that I love this site

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      Thanx! 🙂

  19. Clodo 6 years ago

    Will (and Elissa and Mark and all FLR moderators), you guys never disappoint me! I am so lucky to have access to the vast knowledge that comes from you. Thanks a lot Will! When you don’t bring the info yourself, you always gives access to the most knowledgeable people out there to deliver the info to us!

  20. Juliana 4 years ago

    I’m sorry, Will, but as a woman and someone who is using your books, I disagree with many points in this article (not all of them though). I don’t believe in biological determinism but I do believe that nature imposes a tendency on us (i.e. tendency to get fat/thin) and this tendency ultimately undermines our full potential in a given field. And I also believe it is unwise to go against these clues and paths nature gave us.
    To begin with the article imposes a bunch of assumptions which are not true to life. For example the statement that “women should train like men”… What the hell does this mean if the majority of men train for muscle mass and not strength? They should train like men if the men in question are training for strength alone? The article itself states that men and women have different capacity in different muscle groups, therefore if you want to maximize strength you would have to train generally different than men since they focus on different muscle groups. The training philosophy might be the same but certainly not the training in itself. That alone would go against that idea that “women should train like men”. And mind you that true and pure strength training goes for high sets and low reps and is not entirely dependable on freeweights, while what most of men do is actually of mix between strength and mass, usually focusing on maximum mass gains with free weights (low sets, high reps). I’m completely confused about how the article at one moment makes general assumptions about gender image and completely forgoes these assumptions when speaking of training, as if men trained for strength only. Which puts the statement that “women should train like men” in a complete mess.
    I also find ridiculous how the article treats physical strength as a “relative fuzzy substance” in which “you can’t truly measure”. You can and there is no relativity in it, lifting 300kg is not the same as lifting one frigging tone. It’s a quantity that’s measurable and precise. How does lifting 300kg or 1 tone matters to our survival and health is the fuzzy relative substance, but not the physical strength in itself. The physical strength will always be there and will always be quantifiable. The authors do a whole lot of perspective gymnastics in stat comparison when what ACTUALLY matters is the final strength output, which is generally smaller for women. “The percentage of X relative to men and compared to women is X the same” is useless as far as actual output goes. Can you lift 800kg? No? Go home, you would be crushed and your “percentage equality” is useless to not crush you when the house goes down. It’s like saying two given objects have the same size because they have the same proportions, it’s just ridiculous. Final output is what matters, if it didn’t men and women would not need to be separated at olympic competitions.
    As far as survival goes even muscles are a relative point. Strength is good… But how much? In place of what? Strength is just one aspect of combat proficiency (combat proficiency is what matters here if we’re speaking of survival, not how much can you lift or how much can you run) and is not entirely related to muscle mass, improved motor unit recruitment and neuromuscular facilitation plays a big role on it, while muscle mass might help on that, it’s not on a direct relation. You can have improved motor unit recruit and better neuromuscular facilitation without having a large muscle mass (muscle mass which in some cases might undermine agility, flexibility and precision, other important aspects of combat proficiency. If your strength training starts swole your muscles and undermine these other aspects of combat that’s where your strength training should stop as far as strength per muscle goes).
    Health also becomes a fuzzy point as many, simply too many people exercising don’t take enough anti-oxidant in their diets. Or how a big muscle mass will affect hormonal balance in late life (much more of a big change for women than it is for men).
    There are many weaknesses and strengths in the female body that point to me that women should not have large muscle mass and a large muscle mass is not women’s true potential and strength. For instance, our hands are shaped to deal with small objects and precise handling rather than big and heavy objects (smaller ring finger, for instance, which is bigger on men as it is more important when using heavy tools, and also larger index finger to help with using small tools). We also have a better vision (more contrast and therefore more depth perception), with a larger range of colors, to deal with precision. We gain muscle at a slower rate than men as well, and they will simply never get as big as men no matter how much you train due to biological limitations. Women are simply not biologically made to have big muscle mass. Even certain problems like diastasis seems much more common in hypertrofic women (can’t remember exactly where this data comes from, I’ll try to find more later). These and many others are all indicators of BIOLOGICAL differences between men and women and point to me that the strength of women is not solely in their muscle size. We have different biological roles, different hormones, even our brain is rigged on different ways, and not just on sexual matters mind you. How the body is shaped, our differences in bone size and placement, posture, gravitational center. Hell, even our breasts, one of the most defining characteristics of a woman, tend to disappear or lose form when muscles get too big. You can’t simply ignore all that and say its all “society created stuff”. Society was shaped around those biological differences, not the other way around. None of this means we are inferior, it just means we are DIFFERENT. We might not have as much physical strength as men, but we have more potential, better at full capacity, than men at other things. And we shouldn’t be competing on who’s better on what, just helping each other in what we’re best in. Both our roles are important and necessary, unlike what society seems to make it out to be these days.
    I also believe that a woman will generally benefit by having a greater strength, but definitely not as a man. Nor the same training nor the same thresholds.
    As for myself, I find big muscles in women simply hideous. And they are not the only way to achieve the proposed benefits. Many of the benefits you mention are not unique to muscle training and can be achieved in other ways. Decrease in fat for instance is in no way directly related to strength/muscle training alone, and you can do that very well with just cardio and a good diet without ever lifting anything, you’ll just have it easier on a big muscle mass. I will do sole strength training (greater muscle recruitment), but will not and never will train them to be any LARGER, as well as avoid exercises that have such an effect. I want to have low body fat to have a smaller girth, not muscles replace the fat I have maintaining basically the same girth. I am with all certainty not making any mistake here and I will still benefit from most of the things you listed while avoiding most of the training men actually do. My boyfriend is training muscle size and strength, and the training I do is very different than his even on strength exercise (because we benefit better from strength from different muscle groups at different thresholds of strength per size and therefore we do not train like each other).

    • Jim 4 years ago

      Juliana,
      You post gives me the impression that you have not yet resolved your subconscious castration depressive affect.

      • Juliana 4 years ago

        Well, since you posted so nicely by giving no reasonable counter-arguments or using any logic, and went for an ad hominem, here goes the same for you:
        Jim,
        Your post gives the impression that you have absolutely no clue whatsoever how a woman’s brain works or what makes us happy, and that you still didn’t solve your brainwashing done by feminazis.
        Parity!

        • Jim 4 years ago

          Juliana,
          My appologies. I was annoyed and made a smart arse comment rather than addesssig your points.
          I did enjoy your feminazi comment. Perhaps we agree in more areas than I initially thought.
          Will, Please delete my rude comment if not too much trouble.

        • Jim 4 years ago

          Juliana,
          You are over analying.
          The point is that men and women respond in a similiar way to training stilmulus. Men have an aggegetared response with respect to women as well as a hormonally driven capacity to recruit a higher number of simultaneous motor units. This has been proven over and over again. If you have Will’s program, then refer to his sections on Charles Poliquin.
          Both men and women can develop the following:
          Strength – pure strength
          Functional Strength – strength with minimal increase in size
          Hypertrophy – maximum mass
          Muscular Endurance – maximum endurance
          There is a set, rep, tempo and time under tension for each of sgrength types above and produces similiar effects. This of course is why gymnasts (men and women) have similiar looking physiques as other gymnansts (and not power lifters or rowers (each of these 3 sports trains for a different strength type).
          Most women can’t get large if they eat properly. There are probably some other ways to achieve the same health effects as training like men, however that isnt the point of the article.

          • Juliana 4 years ago

            Oh, this is rare, I thought you were a troll.
            Apologies accepted =)
            And I might have been overanalising.
            But what these researches have to keep in mind is that body image is something very intimate and personal for many people, this is a touchy subject that should not be oversimplified by stating “women should train like men”. While you can certainly argue that these and those body types are not healthy you cannot simply state “people should be like this and they should train like that”. This is not much different than the skinny culture that the article supposedly fights against. I do agree that women should be more strong and not afraid of lifting weights for pure strength training. But “like men” is just misleading to our own biology. Women need a training specific to their bodies, if they train like men, the muscles that they are so afraid to get (and the reason they turn down on weight training) will show up and will betray them.
            And I have a pet peeve against these “women lifting weights”. They almost always end up very muscular and not true to pure strength form. Just compare a trained female wushu fighter to a female weight lifting gymrat and you will get what I’m saying. I only have Fat Loss Revealed from Will Brink so I cannot say for his other books, but even on that one Will doesn’t go for a true strength only approach (as I come to know it from combat experts and special forces coaches). I can only facepalm when I see this picture of women with pack abs and then look at diastasis patients after that.

  21. DANIEL J 4 years ago

    As usual, a very good article.
    I am a semi-retired orthopaedic surgeon/ ex-NAV vet, who has remained active in “training”, tho with considerable moderation, over the past 50 yrs; used to do very heavy wts as a younger guy, now post-50 do much lighter wts, along with resistance band work and rowing/biking. My wife of 35 yrs. is an RN/runner, who I started on resistance work about 20 yrs ago; she is an avid cross-fitter/spinner. We have both benefited greatly from resistance training, especially my wife, who is very fit, never sick, and looks 15-20 yrs younger than she is; I look about 10 yrs younger…from the neck down; from neck up, not so much : )
    I also trained, instructed my 3 kids (2 boys, 1 girl) in “the Way”; hopefully they’ll keep it up throughout their lives

    • Author
      Will Brink 4 years ago

      Thanx for the feedback doc!

  22. Kent Ingram 4 years ago

    I wish it had been possible for my mom to have benefited from strength training, as she’s pretty crippled-up with arthritis, but that kind of thing was unknown in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. I’ve always been a proponent of women and strength training, seeing the results in women who trained with me in the past.

  23. Jim 4 years ago

    Hi Will,
    Have you seen what men are doing in the gym?
    These is a compete disconnect between evidence based training and the methods most employ on a day to basis.
    The most idiotic is the guy that puts in 5 hours of steady state aerobic training (out of guilt) per week thinking that it’s healthy (he is actually increasing his risk of heart disease through the inflation and oxidative stress pathways). Or the guy that hasn’t changed his resistance routine in 3 years and thinks that lower weight, higher reps “gets you toned”.
    99 percent of those in the gym are clueless (including the trainers). It’s no wonder women don’t know what to do.

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