In some cases, weightlifting advice can be universal, however, some advice is especially geared to either men or women. This is because there are differences in anatomy, physiology and hormones. This can have an impact on how each individual man or woman should do their weight training.
Typically, workouts that are made for women tend to focus on using light weights at high repetitions. In the same way, an unfounded fear of becoming too muscular or getting too bulky has also led women to avoid hitting the weights hard, which has deprived them of power and strength that could benefit them in their day-to-day lives.
But these fears should not keep women from lifting heavy weights. Instead, we should focus on the healthy and true concern of losing muscle. After the age of 30, women can lose three to eight percent of their muscle mass each decade. And the rate of muscle loss doubles after the age of 60. Having less muscle can increase your risk of falls and injury, especially as we grow older, which is one more reason why muscle training is important. It helps to maintain muscle mass and strength as we age.
Men’s hormones tend to stay stable throughout their lives, while women’s hormones cycle through every month, depending on their menstrual cycle. Each monthly menstrual cycle is broken down into four weeks. The first half of it is known as the follicular phase, which can last about 14 days. During this phase, weight training is similar for both women and men because of the hormonal profile.
However, in the luteal phase, which is also around 14 days, there is a higher level of hormones present. This can make a woman’s chemical makeup more catabolic. This means it can be hard for a woman to progress the intensity of her training. This is because recovery can take longer, sleep is impacted and energy levels can be lower overall from ovulation until the end of the luteal phase.
During this phase, depending on personal response to exercise, you could find it beneficial to reduce the volume of training and the number of intense training days. Even though training volume and intensity might need to be changed in the last two weeks of the cycle, research shows that muscular training during the first two weeks can result in a larger gain of lean body mass than regular training. So you should pay attention to doing more muscular workouts throughout the first half of your monthly cycle.
This might mean that you strength train more often or with a higher volume during the first two weeks, like three to four times and then consider reducing it to two to three times a week for the rest of your menstrual cycle.