For male athletes, when it comes to conditioning, strength training is a no brainer. Unfortunately, though, many female athletes still shy away from the weight room, fearing they'll become too "bulky." But just like guys, female athletes can tremendously improve their athletic performance by including strength training in their programs.
Generally, when it comes to absolute strength, men are stronger than women. This is because they have a higher volume of muscle. Notice the word choice refers to quantity of muscle not quality.
If you were to examine a muscle area of the same size between a male and female athlete, you would notice no differences in strength for that specific area. This indicates that muscle quality is not gender-specific. So despite their obvious differences, men and women respond similarly to resistance training. Women can actually increase strength at a faster rate than men.
Choosing a Strength Program
When choosing a strength program, take into account the higher risk of knee injury among female athletes, particularly those who play soccer or basketball. Any year-round strength and conditioning program needs to include lower-body resistance exercises, core strengthening and agility and balance drills. Also, there should be a strong focus on proper landing mechanics (See special considerations for females.)
Injury Prevention Strategies
- Appropriate sports medicine screening and identification of risk factors should precede training
- A training program should be well rounded, incorporating exercises that give equal consideration to strength, agility, balance and flexibility
- Training programs should be progressive
- Before working out, always perform a dynamic warm-up, including movements that resemble the ones you will use in your training
- Optimize nutrition and dietary intake
Female athletes can reap benefits from the same strength training exercises that males perform. There is no female-specific workout. Women can tailor any routine to meet their needs, just like guys. Don't be afraid to include Squats, Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, Bench Presses, Rows and Plyometrics in your future workouts.
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