Is fitness an unisex sport? Or should we differentiate between men and women concerning the types of gym classes and/or weight training exercise?
The main goals of every gym-user is to wave off fat and tone the muscles, isn’t it? So can’t we just train on the same planet?
To put it simply: men and women can do exactly the same work-out schedules and the same classes with the same aims and benefits: getting the fat percentage down and muscle toning up. But it’s the ‘muscle toning’ that would make you think the difference between men and women lies here: Men want bigger muscles. Women want slender toning. So shouldn’t this be a reason for men and women to train differently?
Well, not really. Women shouldn’t worry about getting ‘bulky’ and ‘big’ because of weight training: to put it simply, unlike men, women do not have the amounts of testosterone to build up big muscle mass. Most fitness women you see with large muscle mass use extra supplements (also anabolic ones). So no, the exercises themselves can still remain unisex. Worrying about bulkiness isn’t a reason to train differently.
But there are many other reasons to do so. And here’s why:
As a fitness trainer I want to specialize in fitness that benefits the female body. I don’t really agree with the quote ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’; we both have the same traits ; ), but yes, the female anatomy is certainly different than the male version. Most of it (if not ALL) has to do with hormones.
Women grow through life differently then men do. They have more ‘sudden’ changes in hormonal balances that ask for a different approach, like during and after pregnancy and during menopause. Where as the male’s ageing process takes a more stable line.
Apart from all that: there’s the aesthetic difference. I don’t mean the difference of how big or slender we want our muscles to be, but there’s a difference between the muscles a man wants to develop in comparison to the muscles a woman wants.
An easy example is the back. Men usually want a broader back and women really dont. This isn’t really a matter of using heavy or light weights but more with the actual muscles you train and what technique you use. Here’s a short simple example: pull downs with an wide pronated grip (see image) would build the Lattisimus Dorsi (the wide muscles of the back) more to the sides. This is excellent for men, but I’d advise women to do the same exercise but than with a narrow supinated grip*.
This is just an example of countless ways you can alter certain exercises with the focus on ‘what women want’. We want different shapes. But also have a different mixture of hormones to take into account.
So yes, I do feel instructors/personal trainers need to take the planetary systems into account when we help you being your own Mars or Venus. You can do this yourself too, of course.
Have a great week, all you Gods and Goddesses!
*I must say, some have other theories about this. My opinion is based on own experiences there are many EMG studies that prove the case too.