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Strength-Training for Women: An Interesting Myth

Most of the classic myths pertaining to strength training for females are slowly waning.  These myths include, “Strength-training will make women bulky,” and “Women should strength-train with lighter weights and do more repetitions to become toned.”  Decades of research have combated, albeit not completely eradicated, these myths.

One pervasive myth that persists, and it’s almost an unspoken assumption, is this:

Men strength train harder or more intensely than woman.

From my professional experience over the last 14 years working with thousands of clients, high school, college, and professional athletes, I have observed a trend that repeatedly emerges: Women strength train harder, with more intensity than men.

I started noticing this in the late 90’s and began asking my experienced colleagues about their experiences and they all concurred.  Of the athletes and clients that we worked with, the females almost always pushed themselves harder than the men did.  Their focus, tolerance for discomfort, and “coachabilty” tended to outshine men.  Notice in my statement above, I posed this question to “experienced” colleagues.  When I asked the same question to young professionals or college students studying exercise science, almost all of them replied that men work harder than women.  I remember being on a flight with a young colleague and we were role playing as preparation for a job interview he had for a position as an assistant strength and conditioning coach in the women’s athletic department of a Big Ten University.  I asked him, “How should men and women athletes be trained differently?”  His answer started out correct and then took a wrong turn: “The program design should be very similar; the major difference is that you simply can’t push females as hard as males.”  My jaw dropped.  It was a good thing we were just role-playing.

Admittedly, the notion that females strength train harder than their male counterparts is not research based, it is simply my empirical observation over the last 14 years.  This trend applies to young and old, athlete and non-athlete, beginner or seasoned fitness enthusiasts.  And an interesting tangent to this observation is that most females have no idea how hard they are actually training.  So let me be one of the first to say, if you are a female client at Discover Strength… you are training incredibly hard.  
Closed circuit to men:  This isn’t a “rip” on us, simply an observation.

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