Conditioning female athletes

The gym is no different for man or woman. Weights are there to be lifted.

The gym is no different for man or woman. Weights are there to be lifted.

There are no “man” exercises or are there “woman” exercises. Squats are squats, bench is bench no matter what gender. But, women are naturally weaker than men **ducks for cover and shields face**. There is a common stereotype among females that resistance training will make them “bulky”. This is not the case at all. Women who regularly weight train can improve health, body composition and fat loss while also improving athletic performance.

It is important for young female athletes to perform resistance training to reduce risk of injuries.

Strength and Power differences between men and women are a result of several differences in physique, body composition and physiological responses to resistance training.

The production of oestrogen in girls increases fat deposition and breast development while testosterone production in boys increases bone formation and protein synthesis. In terms of absolute strength, women tend to have about 2/3rds the strength of men.

When expressed relative to body weight, lower body strength of women is actually similar to men while upper body strength is somewhat less due to lower quantity of muscle in women.

For female athletes, the most important component of training for performance enhancement as well as injury prevention is strength training.

It will have the most profound effect on female athlete’s development in sport. Strength training will influence speed, stamina, suppleness and skill. Upper body musculature development is a must.

Has women have fewer muscle fibers, the available fibers need to be activated which requires heavy loading. Body building techniques such as hypertrophy training will benefit upper body muscles. Women have more potential than men for upper body strength due to lack of aggressive training programs.

Strength training will NOT cause women to become larger and heavier, it actually reduces body fat and increases lean weight. Through a structured s&c program women will see gains in lean mass, a change in body composition and explosive power.

Here are a few tips to maximise female strength & conditioning to compete:

Shorter Rest Periods – Women recover much faster than men, they can still gain strength with shorter rest periods

Perform More Sets – With shorter rest periods women can get more reps in.

Whole Body Workouts – With lower strength levels, women should focus on whole body workouts over Arms day, shoulders day etc. More benefit from total body workout

Use dumbbells and body weight – Improved ability to handle body weight will help prevent injuries.

Look at Derval O’Rourke, she trains in the gym daily lifting heavy and improving her maximal ability to compete while looking extremely athletic. It should be remembered that female athletes have more potential than men to develop athletically. With this in mind, I encourage all female athletes do to more in the gym and always train to compete.

Is it true that chocolate milk is beneficial post exercise and is it better than sports drinks?

David Toman, currently in Melbourne Australia.

Great question David, and thanks for getting in touch. Low-fat chocolate milk is an affordable and great recovery option post work out. It represents a more nutrient dense beverage choice for people who partake in strength and endurance activities compared to traditional sports drinks.

It has almost double the carbohydrate and protein content while its high electrolyte content is excellent for replenishing muscles and promotes rehydration.

The high sodium content help you retain water also and it rehydrates better than sports drinks. Some people have difficulty digesting milk, but for those who don’t and find it more affordable and attractive than sports drinks I would highly recommend it.

It has similar qualities to whey protein so it is a good replacement choice if you are out of whey protein.

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