By Lannell Beckles
Should men and women exercise the same way? The short answer is yes. Training programs are based on the person’s goals. Yet, men and women look to achieve their goals in very different manners–cardio for women, weight training for men.
Why is there a difference?
The first reason is because of societal norms. Women have long been pressured to maintain a feminine figure. Muscles on women have been seen as being too masculine and frowned upon.
What about biological differences?
Men and women gain muscle at different rates, but not so much that their fitness programs should be different. Both men and women produce androgens that allow for muscle growth and body composition changes. Men, however, produce more androgens and this can explain why men can gain muscle faster than women. Women can still gain lean muscle, and when they do, it can reveal a slimmer figure.
Is there an ideal body type for both men and women?
No. Instead, achieving an ideal ratio of lean body mass to fat mass is the goal. In order to achieve that, the principles are the same regardless if it’s a man or a woman. In order to increase LBM and achieve a good body composition, weight training is key regardless of gender. It increases bone density, stimulates new muscle growth, increases the amount of calories you’ll burn at rest, and emphasizes your figure. Along with changes in eating habits, achieving the ideal body type is within reach.
Will increasing my LBM impact my eating habits?
No and yes. The premise of how to eat is simple regardless of body type — eat whole foods, quality lean meats, and lots of veggies. If you stay away from processed foods and eat to the above recommendations, you’ll see pounds melt away. As you gain more LBM, you may need to adjust the amount of food you consume to account for your changing figure.
So how should you start or change your program?
Aim to spend no more than 60 minutes in the gym, which ensures an efficient session that gets your heart elevated for a long period of time, and also ensures you are getting an adequate amount of work.
Perform 6-8 exercises of varying body parts (i.e. arms, legs, shoulders, chest, and back). Do between 2-6 sets of 6-12 repetitions per exercise. A rule of thumb is the more sets you do, the less repetitions you perform. This works for about 70 percent of the workouts.
Men and women can incorporate cardio at the end of their routine if they choose. This will ensure you will already be in the fat-burning zone and more than likely, use more fat for fuel vs. glycogen (or carbohydrates).
Try a weight-training program for 8-12 weeks, 2-3 times per week and if you increase repetitions or weight every single session, you will see noticeable changes in your body. You will see more definition, a slimming figure, and most importantly, you will have more energy.
Lanell Beckles is a certified strength and lifestyle coach. Along with helping people and athletes function optimally through performance training, he also educates and guides people in revamping their metabolism through lifestyle choices to be the best version of themselves.