The timeless question can be answered with a quick and simple: No.
I could end the article here claiming the easiest and shortest blog you've ever read, but I know many would find this simple statement a little hard to believe, so let's keep going.
As I mentioned, women and men do not need to train differently.
Keep in mind the difference between need and should is quite a large gap, large enough for many to get lost in while trying to figure out the difference.
Women do not need to train differently than men, but in certain areas they should do so. Ultimately men and women can train the same approximately 90% of the time.
That remaining 10% is based on personal goals and seeing how men and women usually have different objectives their training should frankly, be different.
Areas that men and women should train the same include:
Sounds like majority of the body doesn't it?
Rest assured there are several remaining areas to be trained differently
1. Lifted Trucks versus Sleek and Sexy
I believe it's safe to say that most women don't have a desire for "lifted trucks" aka large, thick, muscular legs.
Females tend to fall into two categories: strong, muscular, sexy legs OR sleek, shiny, sexy legs (common factor - all options are sexy - you do you girl)
Exercises to avoid: forward lunges. The forward lunge places a higher level of stress on the quads, especially around your vastus medialis (the base of your knee).
Swap forward lunges for reverse lunges: when you opt for the reverse you shift the emphasis from your quads and place it on your glutes
Women: Incorporate forward lunges ... just do the reverse more often
Men: Most men aim for thick muscular legs and excel at forward lunges
2. Core, Core, Core
How many of you are performing weighted abdominal work?
How many of you are performing weighted abdominal work at high reps?
If you fall into either of these categories and you're not around 20% body fat or less - I encourage you to stop. There are a few reasons behind this:
a. resistance trained abs will rarely show unless your level of body fat is low enough for your abs to show through (the 20% range)
b. placing an external resistance on your abdominals can result in a thicker more muscular look rather than a lean and defined one
c. many people are unsure of how to properly train their core with added resistance and place themselves at risk of injury
If your desire is to achieve thick abs, do your thing! Just please bear in mind that thicker abs truly only look good under 20% body fat, which for most women can be hard to maintain.
Women: focus on body weight and stability exercises (your core is designed to work as a stabilizer!)
Men: thick & muscular abs look good on you - training your core with added resistance is encouraged
3. Triceps (good things come in threes)
The tricep brachii is made up of three heads (tri = 3)
a. Medial Head (think middle): the smallest head - closest to the midline of the body
b. Long Head: found between the medial and lateral heads - connects shoulder to elbow
c. Lateral Head: furthest from the body - lays on top of the medial head
Each head is activated when you perform a different style of training
a. Medial Head
- Better involvement during longer sustained periods/high reps (slow twitch muscle fibers)
- Activated by high rep training
- Hand position: palms face down
b. Long Head
- Slow & fast twitch muscle fibres
- Activated by a variety of reps & sets
- Hand position: palms face upwards
c. Lateral Head
- Powerful but fatigues quickly
- Greatest muscle growth capacity
- Heavy weight and low rep training
- Hand position: palms down or neutral
Ladies - no matter your age one day we're all going to be victims of the dreaded turkey jiggle. Some of you know right away what I'm talking about - for those of you "pretending" you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's the part of your tricep that continues to wave even after your hand has stopped.
Right now some of you are young and carefree and you're reading this thinking "that'll never happen to me!" but let me tell you something Brenda, it's coming for you; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day.
For triceps that don't do the turkey dance (real dance, just ask my mom) - you want to target the long head of the triceps.
Here's a few long head focused movements:
Overhead extension with a reverse grip (dumbbells or cable)
Reverse Grip Skull Crusher (dumbbells or barbell)
Cable Tricep Pressdown with a straight bar (use a reverse narrow grip)
Any overhead movement will suffice but the options listed above are best
For strong defined arms - target the lateral head and minimize activating the medial head. Remember that the lateral head of your tricep lays on top of the medial. This means that overworking the medial will force the lateral to pop out more. This will result in a bigger looking arm, (gentleman - this is great for you if you're wanting to increase your upper arm size)
Ladies and gentleman there you have it, one of us will always be from Mars and the other from Venus... but at least we don't have to train differently
Have a Strong(her) Day!