Nine Training Considerations for Females

One of the more welcome trends around mainstream gym use in recent times has been the closing gap in gender participation rates, and a rising surge of females moving towards strength training to support their aesthetic, athletic, and health endeavours.

While on the surface there don’t appear to be many training approach differences, we have sought to outline with this brief article some of the key gender specific considerations relating to training that perhaps may not be so well known.

 

1. There are no significant differences between genders until the onset of puberty
After puberty onset, there are changes in mass, structure, and tissue distribution. Males tend to carry more muscle mass, have greater bone mineral density and skeletal integrity, and females tend to carry greater relative amounts of adipose tissue (similar absolute amounts, spread across a smaller frame). Post puberty onset, there also appears to be a trend in females for quadriceps strength to increase relative to body mass while hamstring strength remains largely unchanged. This can lead to muscular imbalances, quadriceps dominance and relative weakness in the posterior chain.

2. Females have up to 9x times greater risk of non-contact ACL tears
Predisposing biomechanical factors such as wider pelvis (Q-angle) which increases rotational forces at the knee, greater quadriceps dominance, ligament laxity and generally lower physical strength exposes females to increased risk of non-contact ACL tears, and patellofemoral pain. A balanced strength and movement skill training programme has proven beneficial in reducing the risk of these common injuries.

3. Many of the primary differences in performance and metabolism are related to differences in size and body composition, rather than gender alone
Most of the true gender specific variances can be attributed to differences of muscle fibre type and sex hormone production.

4. Females and muscle growth
Testosterone is one of the primary hormones responsible for muscle growth, and post exercise repair. Both men and women produce the same hormones but differ in the amounts. Producing approximately 20 times less testosterone as males and higher amounts of estrogen, it is difficult for females to gain appreciable amounts of muscle mass.

5. Females have approximately 2/3 total muscle mass compared to males,
consisting of ½ upper body mass, ¾ lower body mass, and are on average 10% shorter. When factoring in total muscle mass per unit of height, a similar amount of total muscle mass would reduce relative strength (the measure of maximal strength in relation to body mass) level differences considerably between sexes.

6. Females benefit from similar resistance training responses as males
Although females tend to carry less muscle tissue, females can gain proportionally the same amount of strength and size as males in response to a resistance training programme, relative to mass. This means that females will gain the same percentage, of a smaller relative total mass.

7. Females tend to exhibit better metabolic health.
Despite having 2/3 muscle mass, twice the amount of fat mass as males and typically slower metabolisms, females tend to exhibit better metabolic health, specifically:

– Elevated fasting blood glucose rates are lower
– Whole body blood glucose clearance is faster
– Faster rate of glucose uptake into muscle

The hormone Estrogen is also thought to play a role in the healthier metabolic profile of females, linked to improved glucose usage.

8. Females exhibit a lower inflammatory response to resistance training
and will sustain less muscle damage than males in response to a sufficient overload stimulus. This may be one of the contributing factors to lower muscle hypertrophy levels in comparison to the training response seen in males.

9. Females are less suited for explosiveness, but are more fatigue resistant, and recover faster between bouts of effort
Females have slower muscle contractile capabilities, due to a lower concentration of Type II muscle fibres compared to males, and a lower storage capacity for anaerobic substrates and enzymes. Females however do have a higher proportion of fatigue-resistant Type I muscle fibres, and a greater capillary density, making women more suited for oxidative efficiency or aerobic work, and sustained lower-intensity muscular work. This means that overall, females tend to be less capable for short bursts of high-intensity effort, and more suited to sustained sub-maximal efforts.

Note: While females may have a lower anaerobic efficiency than males, anaerobic pathways incur a greater metabolic cost, producing more metabolic waste and fatigue. Females also metabolize a greater proportion of fat for energy at any given exercise intensity and rely less on glycogen stores, all of which contributes to females being less fatiguable. 

 

Takeaway training considerations for females: 

-Many of the main gender differences revolve around fibre type and sex hormones.

-Certain biomechanical factors can expose females to greater risk of non-contact knee injuries.

-Have similar relative strength as males, and respond similarly to resistance training.

-Have lower absolute strength and power, lower relative power.

-Do not hypertrophy to the same extent as males.

-Are less suited for short explosive bursts of activity, and more suited to sustained sub-maximal efforts or volume.

-Have greater work capacity, have better recovery after bouts of effort and sustain less muscle damage.

-Have better metabolic health: Greater insulin sensitivity, and utilise more fat for energy at any given exercise intensity (also contributing to females being less fatiguable).

Have you heard about HERo, our Women’s Strength and Conditioning Group?
HERo is a group training program dedicated specifically to meet the exercise needs of active women & female athletes.
Contact Sophie, at Sophie@centralperformance.com.au

 

References and further reading:

Gender differences in strength

Upper to lower body muscular strength and endurance ratios for women and men

Sex differences in strength and fatigability

Muscle size responses to strength training in young and older men and women

Response to resistance training in young women and men

Sex differences in muscle strength in equally-trained men and women

Age and sex effects on energy expenditure

Comparison of upper body strength gains between men and women after 10 weeks of resistance training

A comparison of maximal power outputs between elite male and female weightlifters

Sex Differences in Strength and Power Support the Use of a Mixed-Model Approach to Resistance Training Programing

Endocrine profiles in 693 elite athletes in the postcompetition setting

Direct and indirect effects of leptin on adipocyte metabolism

Gender differences in muscle inflammation after eccentric exercise

Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training

Gender differences in strength and muscle fibre characteristics

Gender differences in skeletal muscle substrate metabolism – molecular mechanisms and insulin sensitivity

Sex differences in exercise metabolism and the role of 17-beta estradiol

Gender difference in circulating leptin level and leptin sensitivity

A longitudinal evaluation of maturational effects on lower extremity strength in female adolescent athletes

Age and gender comparisons of muscle strength in 654 women and men aged 20–93 yr

Males have larger skeletal size and bone mass than females, despite comparable body size

Are gender differences in upper-body power generated by elite cross-country skiers augmented by increasing the intensity of exercise?

The metabolic significance of leptin in humans: gender-based differences in relationship to adiposity, insulin sensitivity, and energy expenditure

Higher skeletal muscle α2AMPK activation and lower energy charge and fat oxidation in men than in women during submaximal exercise

Physical exercise and menstrual cycle alterations. What are the mechanisms?

Effects of menstrual cycle phase on athletic performance

3 Tips on training today’s female athlete 

Non-contact knee injuries in the female athlete

 

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Bookmarked 3: Charlie Weingroff, Danny Camargo and Mike Boyle on the FMS, Developing a High Performance Program, All Things Olympic Lifting and Coaching Kids

Highly recommended viewing from three of the best Coaches in the world.

CVASPS Podcast-Episode 67: Charlie Weingroff, A Case For The Functional Movement Screen
Never have I heard a more reasoned position for using the Functional Movement Screen.

quote:
”There is value in understanding if the joints of the body, can get into the ideal positions to absorb and adapt to stress of your training.”

Developing a Full, High-Performance Program from the Ground Up, with Charlie Weingroff | NSCA.com
A high-performance program brings a team of rehabilitation and performance professionals together under a common set of principles directed toward success. In this session from the 2015 TSAC Annual Training, Charlie Weingroff discusses how to create a high-performance program that can be highly successful and valuable.

The JuggLife | Danny Camargo: From Athlete to Coach | JTSstrength.com
Danny Camargo once one of America’s most talented Junior lifters, now he is one of the most talented Coaches in the World. Danny’s discusses his career as a lifter and coach, his gym Oly Concepts and his philosophies on programming.

Mike Boyle – What I Learned From Coaching Kids, Again
Pioneer Strength Coach Michael Boyle talks about the lessons he learned from coaching kids again.

quote:
”Big lessons? Small goals, small victories. Rome was not built in a day. The big key for me was to not get frustrated and to keep the girls improving and engaged. I had my eyes on the off-season.”

Enjoy.

Bookmarked 2: Frans Bosch and 2016 Debrief

bosch-220x165

I’ve spent the better part of the year revisiting the work of Frans Bosch, biomechanics and motor control, as well as more personal and professional development books within the realms of Simon Sinek and Daniel Pink. It is my aim for 2017 to revisit the simpler concepts, or rather the fundamentals within the scope of Strength and Conditioning as well as actively synthesise what I’ve panned out of 2016’s continued education efforts. I will also endeavour to be more active across social media (including this site) for the purposes of sharing information and ideas for the collective growth, but more importantly, to celebrate the consistent efforts of the good people who I am fortunate to work with and am so very proud of.

Below are some of the online articles that I’ve recently saved relating to the above topics. You can also find some other reviews of Frans Bosch’s work and a huge selection of other good reads in a previous post here.

I hope you have all had a fruitful 2016 and wish you and yours a safe entry into 2017, and wellness and prosperity throughout.

Regards,

DJ

Training Monotony: How This One Factor Can Reload or Ruin Athletes

A Review of Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach and
20 Best Tips of 2016 for Sport Professionals
from Carle Valle at Simplifaster

4 Things I learned From Frans Bosch
By Martin Bingisser

5 Important Points From My Trip To Holland To Meet Frans Bosch
by Dave O’Sullivan

The Less-Traveled Road: Frans Bosch’s Path to Contextual Strength Training
by Ken Jakaslsi

Review: Frans Bosch Clinic
from Pat Ward

Random Thoughts on the New Frans Bosch Book and More
by Mladen Jovanovic, members only

frans_bosch_sprinting_ppt-2
PDF

Best Books of…2016
by Stu McMillan of Altis. Stu offers his thoughts on Bosch’s methods and I tend to agree with his sentiments.

Coach stuart McMillan’s Best Books of 2016

What the Top Fitness and Rehab Experts are Doing Differently This Year

Storytelling Enhances the Influence of Science-Based Writing

https://altis.world/news/coaches-are-not-mind-readers-the-art-of-the-daily-debrief/
from Kyle Hierholzer at Altis

The Art of The Debrief
By Michael Bungay Stanier

”The hard work is behind you. The project is over, and everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. But, how did it measure up?”

The Benefits Of A Pre-Activity Movement Screen

 

Once the athlete or client’s training goals have been established it is important that we as coaches identify potential limitations and risks that may impact our chances of success.

Simple logistical constraints such as availability of training time and equipment can be a limitation and need to be considered, however these are of lesser importance than reducing the risks that are inherently involved with training in the weightroom or practice.

Before seeking enhancements in fitness, the Strength and Conditioning professional’s primary concern is injury prevention. If a client or athlete is hurt through the training process it will be necessary to place restrictions on their program which may slow the rate of improvement towards the goal. For the athlete or client, an injury can mean diminished movement capacity and quality of life. Injuries can lead to missed practice and missed games, lost opportunity and income, and perhaps the end of a career. These are all very possible scenarios and all parties involved should be leaning as close as possible to the side of prevention.

In order to attenuate the likelihood of an injury occurring we need to be aware of the factors that heighten risk. As it relates to endeavours of physical activity, it is documented that the main contributory factors to injury, in order of greatest to least are:

1. Previous injury
2. Right vs left side asymmetry
3. Motor control deficit
4. BMI
5. Poor training Choices

Knowing the evidenced predictors it is imperative that we use a system of screening and assessment that identifies these factors before implementation of a proposed training solution. Such a process would be highly influential toward addressing an individuals needs, maximising the return on our efforts and minimising future risk.

We use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) as the first step of our appraisal process. The FMS is a system to evaluate current movement quality for people who wish to increase physical activity. It is designed for those that do not have pain or injury as a way to prioritise further assessment where necessary, and help decide the appropriate entry point for an individual onto the training path. It is simply the beginning of the information gathering process.

FMS what

The screen is composed of seven fundamental movement patterns and three clearing tests that require a balance of mobility and stability and place the individual in extreme positions where deficits in these areas are noticeable. The FMS aims to set a minimum standard of movement competency, provide insight into potential movement problems if the baseline is not met, and guide appropriate exercise selection and progression. If an individual can not display an easy access of fundamental movement availability as per the FMS criteria, then the training program becomes dialed to match the outer reaches of the individuals current ability. A low FMS score does not necessarily exclude an individual from the training process. It simply means that our exercise selection is directed towards not exploiting those areas where limitation is present. Advancing into higher-stage activities with a movement foundation that is poorly prepared incurs a greater training cost and if the athlete is not injured, at best there will be a higher need for recovery to offset the increased physiological price and a reduced level of preparedness can result.

Low Score = You can still go, you just might need to go a little slower for now
Low Score = You can still go; you just might need to go a little slower for now

The screen is an objective, reliable and repeatable baseline standard of movement, that filters out many of the contributing factors to damage risk such as poor movement quality, right-left asymmetries and presence of pain. The FMS is not a diagnostic tool, however, presence of pain while undertaking the screen is a red flag that requires treatment by a medical professional until it is resolved.

As Strength and Conditioning practitioners, we would like to know if joints can get into trainable positions that we need to meet our end goal – where training those positions only contributes and does not impair movement or system, and produces a more robust and prepared performer. In under fifteen minutes, the FMS can provide an answer. It is a first stage audit of our exercise choices and a guide for best practice.

DJ

Lauren and Bella

Bookmarked

Gathered here are some of the better reads that I’ve come across recently, bookmarked in one convenient location to refer to later. I hope readers will also find something interesting and of benefit as well.

Enjoy.

”As complexity raises, meaningful statements lose precision and precise statements lose meaning.”
Lofti Zadeh

10 Leaders Share The Habits That Help Them Be Freakishly Productive
From Entrepreneur

Resources To Keep Yourself Updated
By Iraki Nutrition

Peer Leadership: 8 Thoughts On How To Make The Most Of An Opportunity, Others And Yourself
Guest post by Greg Robins of The Strength House and Cressey Sports Performance on PeteDupuis.com

Building Bridges: leveraging Your Employer To Enhance Your Personal Brand

5 Habits Of Effective Coaches
also from Greg Robins

8 Must Read S&C Articles

from Science For Sport

Five Resistance Elements that Develop Athletes
from Carl Valle at SimpliFaster

Why and How We Program Breathing Exercises 
By Kevin Carr of Movement As Medicine

Periodisation for the Everyday Athlete
by Mike Robertson

Wellness Monitoring
From Greg Dea

http://www.elitefts.com/coaching-logs/the-four-essential-steps-your-athletes-need-to-take/ and

http://www.elitefts.com/coaching-logs/practical-applications-for-developing-rotational-power/
from Mark Watts at EliteFTS

A Simple Approach to Running Analysis for Clinicians
from Chris Johnson at Zeren PT and Performance via Mike Reinold

Solving the Riddle of the Shin Splint
by Ken Jakalski

Nervous System Training 101:The Creation of Superhuman Strength and Athleticism
from Joel Smith and TrainHeroic.com

3 CNS Hacks For a Better Workout and

Jeff Moyer Q&A on Strength Training Dose and Transfer
from Joel Smith at Just Fly Sports

Guidelines for the General Preparation Phase 

Writing the General Preparation Phase

and Free Downloads
By Coach Nick Newman

Purposeful GPP: Applying Science to Your Conditioning
From Bryan Mann at EliteFTS

Agility
from Science For Sport

Agility In Team Sport: How To Crack the Code
by Carl Valle at SimpliFaster

Barriers to Championship Performances  and again

from Altis and FreeLap USA
from Freelap USA and Altis

The Terms Of The Deal
The Scientific Principles Of Strength Training
By Dr. Mike Israetel of RenaissancePeriodization.com and Juggernaut Training Systems

Top Ten Must Reads: #10 – #6
Top Ten Must Reads: #5 – #1
Via Juggernaut Training Systems

What Are The Real Elements Of ”High Performance?”
From Chris Gallagher at Freelap USA

Setting Rehabilitation Goals And Reducing Energy Leaks With Movement Efficiency and
Retraining The Injured Athlete, High Performance Training For Sports on The Strength Coach Podcast
with David Joyce

Just Load It
by Erik Meira

Warm Up And Motor Concepts and
Developing a Full, High-Performance Program From The Ground Up
By Charlie Weingroff

Talking About Warm-Up?!?
From Dustin Imdieke of Altis

Warm Ups
from Science For Sport

Your Warm-up Doesn’t Need to Be That Complicated
from Jesse Irizarry at Strength Theory

A Guide To Movement Prep
from Nick Winkelman at Exos

Get More From Your Sprint Workouts
via Bret Contreras

How To Warm Up Before Your Workout

from Robbie Cannon via My TPI

Daily Undulating Periodization & Performance Improvements In Powerlifters
A research review from Patrick Ward

Becoming A Strength And Conditioning Coach
From Michael Favre Via NSCA

6 Ways To Simplify Your Coaching For Better Results
From Eric Cressey

The Ultimate Conditioning Guide

Conditioning And Mental Toughness

3 New Conditioning Rules

The Truth About Injuries
From Joel Jamieson of 8WeeksOut.com

You Need Long Duration, Low Intensity Cardio
By Mike Robertson of Robertson Training Systems

Reactive Strength Index
From Science For Sport

Velocity Based Training
From Carl Valle Via Freelap USA

Beast Blog contains a tonne of great content on performance tracking.

Breathe New Life Into Your Performance
From Chris Gallagher Via Freelap USA

A Week At The WAC
Also By Chris Gallagher

Coaching The Individual In The Athlete
From Nick Sheuerman

Coaches Are Not Mind-Readers … The Art Of The Daily Debrief
Insights from Coach Kyle Hierholzer

The 16 Characteristics Of Greatness
From award-winning leadership speaker, Don Yaeger

A Pocket Guide To Coaching Wisdom
From Altis

35 Secrets Of Brilliant Coaches
By Ann Josephson shared on the Strength Coach Blog

Via Negativa
Set And Rep Schemes In Training
Twelve Principles of Agile Periodisation
6 Weeks Running Program for Soccer Players
Running Based Intervals-Velocities Table
By Mladen Jovanovic at Complementary Training

Okinawan Strength: Developing the ‘Iron Body”
By By Dr. Suart McGill via Strongfirst

Exciting Free Content From Dr. Stuart McGill

Human-Specific Training and
The Importance Of Unilateral Training
By Devan McConnell Via Volt Athletics

Commentary From Jeremy Frisch
Saved by Kelvin Giles at Movement Dynamics

Individual Training In A Team Setting

Olympic Lifting For Athletic Performance
From Mark Watts of EliteFTS

Olympic Weightlifting – The Biomechanics
From Strength And Conditioning Research

Olympic Weightlifting
From Science for Sport

Plantar Fasciitis – Important New Research By Michael Rathleff
From Tom Goom, Running Physio

The Complete Guide To Foundations & Fallacies Of Tissue Regeneration
From Dr. John Rusin

Treatment Fundamentals: A Simple Framework To Reconceptualize Pain And Injury Treatment
By Greg Lehman

Back Pain – Separating Fact From Fiction
At Pain-Ed.com

Core Stability: Winning Popularity, Losing Science
By Ramsey Nijem Fitness

Which Strength Sport Is Most Likely To Cause An Injury?
From Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley at StrengthandConditioningResearch.com

Implementing High-Intensity Aerobic Energy System Conditioning For Field Sports
From Dr. Dan Baker Via Freelap USA

Adapting to High Altitude
Via Human Biological Adaptability

It’s All About Motor Control
From Gray Cook at FunctionalMovement.com

Rocky Road To The Top: Why Talent Needs Trauma
Dave Collins and A ́ine MacNamara, Sports Med 2012; 42 (11)

The Science And Application Of Coaching Cues
From Coach Sam Leahey

Coaching Movements And Skills
From Nick Winkelman of Exos featured at On Target Publications

Coach Like A Caveman – How The Environment Shapes Our Movement
Also with Nick Winkelman on The Strength Coach Podcast

What We Say Matters – Uncovering the Truth About Cueing (Lecture)
What We Say Matters, Part I
What We Say Matters, Part II
With Nick Winkelman on NSCA

Coaching Cues That Actually Work
With Nick Winkelman Via Stack

Coaching Instructions And Cues For Enhancing Sprint Performance
In NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal

35 Recommendations For Building Better Horizontal jumpers
With Nick Newman Via Freelap USA

A Systems Perspective On Motor Control, Part One
From Todd Hargrove at Better Movement

Notes From Frans Bosch – Transfer Of Strength Training: Implications from The CNS
By Simon Nainby at Underground Athletics

Review Of “Strength Training And Coordination: An Integrative Approach” By Frans Bosch
from Todd Hargrove

McMillan Coaches Guide To Strength Development (Series)
With Stuart McMillan, Matt Jordan and Brett Bartholomew

Gill Apprentice Coach Program – April Highlights 2015

Gill Apprentice Coach Program – May Highlights 2015
By Ellie Spain Via Altis

Another Training Talk With Dan Pfaff part 1
Another Training Talk With Dan Pfaff part 2
By Martin Bingisser at HMMR Media with Coach Dan Pfaff of Altis

5 Coaching Cues To Immediately Improve Basic Movements
From Dean Somerset

How Does Foam Rolling Work? And Why “SMR” Should be Called “SMT”
Via Bret Contreras, aka The Glute Guy

Rest, Recover, Regenerate Part 5: Massage
A great series of articles on rest, recovery and regeneration by Pat Ward

Can Stretching Really Make You A Better Athlete? The Truth Behind Static Stretching And Power Development
From Joel Smith via Just Fly Sports

Stretching For Recovery

The Physiological Basis for Tapering in Endurance, Strength, and Power Athletes

The New Science of Embracing Performance Anxiety

Why Do You Lift — Defining Hope, Motivation, and Risk By

Marilia Coutinho at mariliacoutinho.com via Elite FTS

The Top Ten Brain Science And Psychology Studies Of 2015

Questioning the Use of Static Stretching Before and After Athletic Activities

Towards A Grand Unified Theory Of Sports Performance 
By Paul Glazier

Attentional Focus and Motor Learning: a Review of 15 Years

Publications By Brad J Schoenfeld via ResearchGate

Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Muscle Fibre Injury

The Architecture Of The Connective Tissue In The Musculoskeletal System—An Often Overlooked Functional Parameter As To Proprioception In The Locomotor Apparatus

The Fitness-Fatigue Model Revisited: Implications For Planning Short- And Long-Term Training

Stretching The Truth. A Review Of The Literature On Muscle Stretching

Questioning the Use of Static Stretching Before and After Athletic Activities

Effects of Resistance Training in Youth Athletes on Muscular Fitness and Athletic Performance: A Conceptual Model for Long-Term Athlete Development

Understanding The Stress Response
from Harvard health

The Unhappy Truth About Positive Psychology
By Jeffrey B. Rubin, Truthout

A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’
From Gordon Morino

US Navy Admiral Bill McRaven’s 10 Lessons From Basic SEAL Training

The Best Job On The Planet (TEDx)
A TED Talk with the exemplary Jeff Oliver

A special mention must be made of Greg Nuckols who puts out a tonne of quality content over at Strength Theory. Highly recommended.

”It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
W. Edwards Deming

DJ