Should men and women work out the same way? | The Tylt
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For a long time, exercise for men has focused on building muscle while workouts for women have been all about weight loss. These days, the lines are not so clear, with lots of women getting into weightlifting and plenty of guys focusing of core and cardio. But some say different genders have different fitness needs. Should men and women get fit the same way?
Should men and women work out the same way?
In mid-century America, the migration from rural to urban life left a lot of people eating poorly and living more sedate lives. As a result, pioneers like the Weider Brothers and Jack Lalanne prompted a fitness craze. From day one, the focus was on for women to be slim and for men to be muscular, resulting in totally different styles of exercise. Women avoided weight lifting, fearing that they’d be bulky and men stayed away from cardio, thinking it “girly.”
Fast forward half a century or so, with the advent of Crossfit, P90X, HIIT, and other methods, the weight loss focus of cardio and the muscle building intention of pumping iron merged. Women have learned that lifting weights will not make them look like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger, and guys know that a strong core is a great thing to have for overall performance.
But some fitness experts argue that men and women are built differently, with distinct strengths and challenges, and that means exercise is not a one-size-fits-all deal.
Lift heavy things. High reps with lower weights for lean muscle mass, or fewer reps with higher weight for bulking up. Work out consistently. Eat clean. Stretch. Work on your core. Elevate your heart rate safely. These are universals of exercise, regardless of being male or female, cis-gendered or trans. Hormones and skeletal structure may not be identical for all genders but we are not so different that exercise itself needs to be gendered.
Forget the idea than men are just stronger than women. There are women out there who can hold a yoga pose that makes the guy next to her cry. Women and men have varied types of strength. But if men and women train the same, they are ignoring the natural advantages of each group. Men grow muscle mass more quickly than women, in general, and women have stronger core and lower body strength, proportionally. Women perform better in the high rep/low weight workouts than men do, who are better off lifting heavy but with fewer reps.
Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning coach, says:
You don’t need me to tell you this, but women’s bodies are very different from men’s. While a man may want to increase the volume of his chest or beef up his traps, most women don’t want these things. A beautiful female body looks very different from a man’s. So why would you train the same as your man?
Michele Olson, ACSM fellow and professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama, says “The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weightlifting for all adults at least twice a week, with three times a week being optimal." That's all adults, not just the guys.