On a Microscopic level, there is virtually no difference between the muscle tissue of men and the muscle tissue of women. Men and women have different levels of the same hormones, and that is what is responsible for the difference in the amount of muscle a man can typically put on and the amount of muscle a woman can typically gain. Genetics will determine how much muscle each individual (man or woman) can put on. Some men will put muscle on more easily than other men and the same goes for women. The only difference in training between the sexes might be as the result of cultural, sexual and individual preferences. A woman may be more concerned with her butt and thighs, so she looks good in a pair of jeans. A man may be more concerned with his upper body. So he looks good without his shirt on at the beach. However, their muscles respond the same to training.
However there is evidence that gender differences may affect fat loss. In my experience at a Calgary Fitness Gym, it appears that men have an advantage in losing weight as a result of exercise and that women need a greater training stimulus to induce fat loss. One of the major reasons for this is body composition. Men have more muscle than women. Approximately 40% more. Muscle burns 30-50 calories/pound/day without doing anything so that extra muscle men have allows them to burn 40% more calories than us girls in everything they do. Sucks but true! I experienced this first hand when my husband was getting ready for a Calgary Firefighter Calendar photo shoot and I was getting ready for a body building contest. I had to diet my face off and trained twice as hard as him to get similar results each week. Other factors associated with fat loss which appear to be influenced by gender include fat topography and adipose reactivity, substrate utilization and response to exercise, hormonal differences, age and genetic factors. In pre-menopausal women, for example, it appears that resistance training may well be better than aerobic training in reducing sub-cutaneous fat and visceral fat and that aerobic training is better in reducing overall fat (Parker, 1999).
Women win in the long run- Women are better equipped for endurance events than are men, who tend to excel at shorter distances. According to the American Sports College of Medicine’s Lewis Maharam, M.D., women’s extra padding is a great energy store, and estrogen delays fatigue and prevents muscle damage over the long haul.
There is no genetic reason why men and woman can’t do the same exercises and training regimes except woman need to be conscious of the angle of their hips during squatting movements. Because of the wider Q-angle of women’s hips a wider foot position is safer and more comfortable on the knees allowing for better tracking. Also, training during pregnancy. If you have been training prior to pregnancy there is no reason why you can’t continue to train throughout the pregnancy as long as there are no complications. As your body changes exercises may need to be modified due to girth increases, balance and loose joints due to the extra release of Relaxin. Working with a trainer that is qualified to work with pregnant woman is a good idea especially if it is your first pregnancy.
Let the battle of the sexes begin! Get out there and train!