Women have more than justified their presence in weight rooms and on sports fields, and more women and young girls are participating in sports and fitness now than ever before. But one mistake some women make is trying to train and attain physical fitness in the exact same way as men. Like it or not, the female body’s unique construction requires different considerations and approaches to fitness.
That doesn’t mean you have to implement drastic changes into your fitness routine. It’s most important that you recognize your body’s needs and provide for them, in terms of both workout types and equipment used. Here’s a quick guide to catering your workouts to benefit your body.
Focus on aerobic exercise
Women tend to be more interested in losing weight through exercise than in bulking up and adding muscle mass.
While that may be the goal of many men in your gym, you won’t want to follow their lead on workouts. Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to lose weight through your workouts. Endurance training burns more calories per hour than workouts geared toward building muscle mass. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes per day of an exercise that’s aerobic in nature, such as running, walking or swimming. When partnered with a healthy, reduced-calorie diet, this can yield significant results.
Don’t settle for a man’s shoe
Many women may not realize it, but their shoes may not be made with their physiques in mind. Particularly in the past, women’s fitness shoes were little more than downsized versions of men’s, utilizing the same design and molding. The problem? Women tend to have narrower feet than men, and the designs lacked the support most women needed. While this is less common today, you still need to be careful about the shoes you buy.
Before purchasing a pair of running shoes, confirm that they’re specifically designed for a woman’s foot and will support your individual style of running.
Along those same lines, it’s wise to make sure your other equipment is helping, rather than hurting, your workouts.
Take time to find an exercise bra that provides the support and comfort you need for your workouts. Also, avoid tops and pants that chafe or ride up as you exercise, since this can lead to discomfort that could temporarily sideline you.
Integrate circuit workouts into cross-training
For women who enjoy strength training but don’t want to pack on added muscle mass, circuit training can be a great middle ground. Exercising on the circuit consists of using a number of weight-training machines in quick succession with very little rest time in between. Each machine is used for a pre-determined period of time before switching to the next station. The difference between this type of training and traditional strength training workouts is that repetitions are emphasized, rather than lifting volume. Your heart rate will elevate and you’ll walk away having gotten an excellent aerobic workout.
If you implement these changes, you should eventually see progress in the form of a leaner physique and possibly fewer injuries. For many years, the differences between men’s and women’s workout needs were ignored by most of the fitness community. Take advantage of our more advanced level of knowledge to improve both your workout regimen and your long-term health.
- Workout strategies for women by Learn English at DCU
- Focus on Aerobic Exercise by Kenny Holston
- Don’t Settle for a Man’s Shoe by Sean Drelinger
About The Author: Felicia Savage is a freelance writer, designer and health advocate living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to doseofmyown.com, she touches on a number of health related topics, including current events in the field of medicine.