When looking at barbell strength training it is crucial to understand the following: women are not a special population. In reality, they consist of more than half of the human population. With very, very few exemptions, they are trained in exactly the same way as men of the equivalent age and training level. By virtue of a diverse hormonal profile, the speed and the amount of change in muscle mass and strength will vary, but the biological manners that bring about those changes are otherwise the equivalent as those in men. Since the developments are identical, the approaches used to affect progress are likewise the same. Many excuses have been made over the centuries that exercise has been accomplished, occasionally by women, but typically for them. The main thing is that everyone, irrespective of sex, gets out of a properly designed programme precisely what they put into it. Unproductive ‘toning and firming’ practices have no basis in physiology, and the outcomes attained from them validate this point rather irrefutably. That said, there are more than a few important differences between the performances of men and women. As a rule of thumb, women do not have the equivalent level of neuromuscular competence as men. This is most likely due to the variances in hormonal profile and the much poorer quantities of testosterone, and it is palpable across the range of performances. Women can use a greater percentage of their 1RM for more repetitions than men can, in all probability because their 1RM performance is not as proficient in establishing their true absolute strength. And, while points of absolute strength relative to muscle mass are virtually identical in the two sexes, women’s upper body movements suffer from the hefty comparative difference in local muscle mass spreading. One other consideration is important to contemplate, and that is that the typical female is both calcium and iron deficient. Both of which may disturb performance and health. Modifying the diet to contain more iron-rich foods, food preparation with cast iron cookware, and making an allowance for iron supplementation may be prudent. Calcium supplementation may also be a good idea to address low calcium levels.
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