40+ Tips and Considerations for Strength Training Women

Page:  1 Next »
Print

Strength Training for Women: Tips and Considerations

Among the variables that a coach or a trainer has to consider when doing one-on-one sessions or group sessions, age and gender are the most apparent. However, with the latter, a scaling of weight is usually the only measure/caution taken by many professionals. What about the anatomical differences in hip angle or the differences in adaptation to interval training? Furthermore, what kind of psychological or emotional differences exist between men and women who are walking into a gym for the first time? In his many years of training, leading industry trainer Bret Contreras has compiled a very insightful list of tips and considerations when coaching women who are NEW to the strength training game. Before we dive into some highlights, a note from the coach:

Please understand that I intend no disrespect or offense, I’m not trying to be controversial, I’m aware that I could be wrong in some cases, and obviously I’ve made broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to this list. My primary intent is to inform other trainers and coaches about my observations – it’s likely that your observations will differ from mine.

Exercise Considerations

In most cases, men and women differ greatly — especially when starting a training program of any kind — in terms of flexibility and starting upper body strength. Contreras lists several important observations to keep in mind:

  • Women have good “reactive/elastic strength” or stretch-shortening cycle efficiency, but they have poor “starting strength.”
    Women have to be taught that the eccentric portion of the movement is important, and most will let their form go down the tubes when lowering their last rep of a set (for example during deadlifts or chins).
  • Women are more prone than men to exhibit valgus collapse during squatting – while individual differences such as Q-angles contribute to this, “sitting like a lady” probably contributes to it as well.
  • A woman’s glutes can become stronger than a male’s – indicated by a greater relative hip thrust strength seen in women (a 2xBW hip thrust appears to be much more common in trained women than trained men, as is a 3xBW hip thrust).
  • Proper push-up form is much more difficult to attain for women than it is for men.

There is a reason why pushups are hard for women

  • Women have good “reactive/elastic strength” or stretch-shortening cycle efficiency, but they have poor “starting strength” – for example if they start a deadlift or shoulder press from the top of the movement with an eccentric lowering first, the performance is markedly better than if they perform the concentric portion first (more so than that of men).
  • Some women struggle to activate their glutes with straightened legs (ex: planks and back extensions), but easily can when the knees are bent (ex: squats and hip thrusts) – I don’t quite know why this occurs.
  • Women utilize a variety of lumbar-pelvic strategies when lifting and often resort to overarching (excessive hyperextension) the spine during planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts.
  • Bodyweight exercises for the upper body are much harder for women compared to men.
    Most women prefer the EZ bar over the traditional barbell for hip thrusts as their pelvises can get beat up by traditional barbells (depends on the EZ bar though).
  • Some women have “coregasms” when training, and the hanging leg raise is the primary culprit (these orgasms usually aren’t welcomed as they’re inconvenient).
  • Bodyweight exercises for the upper body are much harder for women compared to men.

Programming Design Considerations

What to consider when programming

Whether you are working with female clients one-on-one in a personal training setting or you are working with a mixed group of men and women in a class, make sure you are taking everyone’s needs — gender-specific or otherwise — into consideration.

  • Women have much better stamina than men in terms of training density at higher intensities – they don’t require as much intra-set rest time as men.
  • Most women initially possess “quad dominance,” which should actually be referred to as “posterior chain weakness.”
  • Women are not initially very competent at executing 1RM’s, and this skill takes more time to develop in women compared to men.
  • The vast majority of women believe in spot reduction – even if they’ve heard the truth about spot reduction on numerous occasions…
    Women tend to go too light with resistance training, whereas men tend to go too heavy to the point where their form breaks down too much or they rely on excessive momentum (there’s a popular saying in our industry that women should add 10% to the bar while men should take 10% off the bar).
  • Women’s upper bodies are much weaker than those of men – lower body strength is around 70-75% of men, whereas upper body strength is around 40-60%.
  • When the spine is taken out of the equation, women’s relative compound lower body strength is more comparable to that of men (example leg press, hip thrust); however, in lifts that require significant spinal stability, relative compound lower body strength lags even greater when compared to men (example squats, deadlifts).
  • Many women love isolation lifts and feeling the burn with them — probably too much — as most of them love these movements for the wrong reasons (see next point).
  • The vast majority of women believe in spot reduction – even if they’ve heard the truth about spot reduction on numerous occasions (many mistakenly believe that tricep, adductor, and low ab exercises burn fat in those regions)….
  • Women absolutely love it when they perform their first legitimate push-up and chin-up, and many love doing “masculine” things in the gym such as pushing sleds….

Pullups are a big accomplishment

  • Women tend to appreciate excellent form more so than men and aren’t as prone to “ego lifting.”
  • Women require smaller jumps in progressive overload – smaller plates are therefore critical.
    However, many women lack the fortitude and dedication to ever see incredible results from lifting due to “being a lifter” rather than “being a student of weight lifting.”
  • Many women will never appear “too muscular” no matter how much resistance training they perform….
  • The vast majority of women will never have “too much booty” as in gluteus maximus musculature no matter how much resistance training they perform….
  • Women require smaller jumps in progressive overload – smaller plates are therefore critical (example 1.25-2.5lbs), as are smaller barbells (and smaller jumps in db’s, kb’s, and bands).
Page 1 2 Next »
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p9

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p8

CrossFit 209 Sport shared a link on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=928875053808844&id=574926115870408

CrossFit Los Gatos posted an article
CrossFitOfFremont posted an article
Kristy Parrish published the post How Do I Choose the Right Workout Program? on Tabata Times
Results outline the efficacy of a workout program. With a sound, objective foundation (i.e...
CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/whiteboard/ Who's on top?

CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/daily-wod/

CrossFit Oakdale shared a link on Facebook

http://cfoakdale.com/2014/10/22/weightsmovements-for-the-rx-division-of-the-franniversary/

CrossFit Sweatshop posted an article
Corey's Gym posted an article
Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

week21 day2 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p7

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

week21 day2 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p6

cfsausalito shared an image on Facebook

Congratulations to C/S athletes Galo Arias and Sharon Squire for completing the Warrior Dash over the weekend and to C/S athlete Alicia Asensio for running the Nike Women's Half Marathon on Sunday! We love seeing you all express your fitness in different competitive environments -- so proud of you!

CrossFit Modesto shared an image on Facebook

Happy Tuesday! We'd like to welcome Nestor to our community. You know the drill: if you see him, introduce yourself and say hello. Thanks for joining us, Nestor!

CrossFit Modesto posted on Facebook

ANNOUNCEMENTS -- PLEASE MAKE A NOTE OF THESE IN YOUR CALENDARS! - CrossFit Modesto will be closed ALL DAY October 31st (Halloween) and November 1st for the Hock Hocheim Knife Seminar. - WODTOBERFEST takes place on October 29th at 5:30 PM and will be the *ONLY* class in the pm (NO 12pm or 4:30pm classes)

American River Crossfit shared a link on Facebook

10/21/2014 http://wp.me/sGeX1-10212014

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Prehab/activation: SMR - rhomboids / low back Banded hip flexor stretch 2x10 hip thrusts 2x10 scap retraction on rings -then- 5 x 250m row sprints - rest 2 mins between attempts, post best and worst time -then- AMRAP in 12 minutes: 15 push-presses (75/55) 12 back rack in place walking lunges (75/55) 9 pull-ups

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Competitors Program Week 1, Day 2: 5x5 @ 75-80% weighted ring dip -alternating with- 5 attempts for max time in an L-sit -then- With a 15 minute running clock: Run 1200m* Followed by max rounds of: (1,2,3...) Hang Power Clean (175/120) (1,2,3...) Burpee over the box jump (24"/20") *do the long 800m course, then around the building twice -then- Every 30 seconds for 8 intervals: 1x20yd prowler sprint (176/108) or use a weight that allows you to sprint 20 yards in under 10 seconds. Then, rest 3 minutes and repeat once more.

CrossFit HEALDSBURG posted on Facebook

Competence speaks through confidence and it is easy to carry others along when you believe in yourself. - Mark Twight

CrossFit Bios shared a link on Facebook

South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Ski and Snowboard Conditioning Boot Camp is in full swing! We know who'll be ready for the snow!

CrossFit West Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

Good Ol’ Fashioned Strength Day http://blog.genesispetaluma.com/?p=2997

South Tahoe CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Avalanche shared an image on Facebook

Check out Derek getting low. Over 50lbs lost and an amazing gain in range of motion!

CrossFit Genesis posted an article
CrossFit Avalanche shared an image on Facebook

The paleo challenge day 1. Can you guess who's paleo bank this is?

Jefferson State CrossFit posted on Facebook

Just watched Julie Noyes complete 3 touch and go power cleans with her previous max! -Stoots

CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Our #MCM goes to Blair and Rob as they prep to crush the competition at Iron October 2 this Saturday! Come out to cheer them, and our other competitors on at CrossFit Iron Mile in Natomas from 9-4!

CrossFit Feather River shared an image on Facebook

This Saturday the 25th is the Yuba Sutter United Way Spooktacular 5k/10k Run! Race starts at 9am and there will be prizes awarded for best costumes! Let's get out there and represent CFFR!! https://www.yuba-sutterunitedway.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=15

South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Even though it's only October, we are already thinking about Decking our Halls!!! Mark your calendars!!! STCF Christmas Party is slated for Friday, December 12! You will NOT want to miss this shindig!

CrossFit Valley View posted on Facebook

This week is a special one! Why you ask?! Well because Our Box owner, Jennifer Correia, the one that brought CrossFit to Los Banos, is clebrating her Birthday this Sunday the 26th and guess what 30 burpees are due! so jump on her ass to get them done and hey, why not have her step it up a bit and make it for time????

CrossFit Valley View shared an image on Facebook

Starting off the day right

CrossFit 530 posted on Facebook

CrossFit 530 is closing. Friday will be the last day of business. All billing has stopped and will be refunded on a prorated basis. We sincerely thank everyone for their contribution to our CrossFit community over the last several years and wish you all health and happiness.

mqprunty published the post Why I Compete on
I wasn't quite sure where to go with this article...I first started with – “Why YOU Should...
South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

#crossfit #stcf #mental #southtahoecrossfit #neverquit #mexturesapp

John Mariotti published the post 3 reasons you get hurt at CrossFit on
There is a huge amount of bad press about CrossFit hurting people. I hear about Doctors and...
CrossFit Genesis shared a link on Facebook

October 20, 2014 Workout of the Day #holdthebar #alivetribe #workout #roseville

CrossFit Folsom Lake shared an image on Facebook

Lateral box jumps? Yikes!! Switching it up a little today :-)

Auburn CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

ACF – October 20, 2014 http://t.co/e5cyBN9E97

Hilary Wiebe published the post 10 Things I've Picked Up in My First Year of CrossFit on
This past September was my one year CrossFit anniversary. I’m really excited for what lies ahead...
CrossFit Monterey posted on Facebook

Training 141020 Strength: Back Squat 3 @ 7, 3 @ 8, 3 @ 9, plus one down set (load drop) Conditioning – 4 Rounds for time: 400m Run 4 Deadlifts, 115#/75# 4 Power Cleans, 115#/75# 4 Push Press, 115#/75# 4 Front Squats, 115#/75# Post results to comments.

CrossFit Valley View shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Redding posted on Facebook

After meeting with the council we have decided to put the 6am Class on hold. The Mon-Wed-Fri 5a class is still alive and well. 6am'ers gather your peeps and lets get this going again!

arielyve published the post All You Need to Know on Preventing Cancers on
Everyone has cancer cells in their body and these cells never get caught in normal tests until...
CrossFit 38 Degrees North shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit translates to all aspects of life, hopefully it influenced these guys aim over the weekend. Here is four of our 38 North boys on a camo heavy bonding trip into the wild. And the WOD for tomorrow is.......... "The CrossFit Total" 15 Min to find 1RM Back Squats -3 attempts 15 Min to find 1RM Press-3 attempts 15 Min to Find 1RM Deadlift- 3 attempts add highest rep from each movement together to find total

CrossFit Feather River shared a link on Facebook

Workout of the Day for Monday October 20th, 2014

CrossFit CSA posted on Facebook

In teams of two, with only one teammate working at a time, perform the following within 28 minutes: 6 x 100 Meter Row (Each partner rows 100m AND resets it to Zero) 50 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24"/20") 10 Rds of Cindy (5 pull-ups-10pushups-15 squats) 6 x 100 Meter Sprint Run (50m down and back, then partner goes) 10 Rds of Cindy (advanced do Chest to bars) 50 Burpee Box Jump Overs MAX Double Unders Score is number of double unders you complete. It will be very difficult for most teams to even make it to the double unders. *for the run sprints, instructor will set up cones outside 50m apart, where each teammate will run down and then return and tag their partner. ** advanced player please perform chest to bar pull-ups

CrossFit 580 posted on Facebook

Save the date! Saturday November 1, wear your Halloween costumes for the team WOD!

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Sam getting one of his 165lb thrusters. #crossfitready #readynation #crossfit #affiliatecup #thrusters http://t.co/z3ryd7nr2o

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Was that my last Burpee? #crossfitready #readynation #crossfit #burpee #checkwithyourjudge #teamfitaid… http://t.co/T5www0zbgn

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event#1 awesome team! So@proud of everyone #crossfitready #crossfitcommunity #crossfitcompetition… http://t.co/fdgVE5P9PS

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event #1 open team! #crossfitready #crossfitcommunity #readynation arivas411 http://t.co/AmnkWStE2e

CrossFit 580 shared a link on Facebook

http://www.crossfit580.com/wod/320/monday-10-20-14

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Alison with a solid 1st Event #crossfitready #crossfitready #readynation alimisenar crossfitkeely http://t.co/cymX9MnAxJ

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event #1 Masters at work! notthebarbie paulmation #crossfitready #readynation #crossfitcommunity… http://t.co/HfnSZcF3S3

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Scott showing us what Masters are made if shellyalberi #crossfitready #crossfitcommunity #crossfit… http://t.co/zBchVajG1M

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event#1 Paul making thrusters look easy. paulmation #crossfitready #readynation #crossfitcommunity… http://t.co/EZAYhWeLcT

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Brother and sister killing it on wod #1 together side by side. #crossfitready #readynation… http://t.co/SQLaPdnmgJ

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event#1 Paul making thrusters look easy. paulmation #crossfitready #readynation #crossfitcommunity… http://t.co/DhRBfxufeN

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV