Why Women Can Handle More Training Volume Than Men


Strong /strôNG/ adjective: having the facility to maneuver heavy weights or carry out different bodily demanding duties.

[Synonyms: muscular, brawny, strapping, sturdy, burly, heavily built, meaty, robust, athletic, tough, rugged.]

Based on Google’s prime definition of the phrase, you’ll be able to plainly see how something strength-related has at all times had extra of a masculine filter to it. Yes, males produce extra testosterone than ladies. Does this imply they’re superior bodily beings capable of obtain higher and extra intense feats of strength and fitness?

Wrong. Well, kind of.

Strength could be outlined in some ways. Today, we’ll be it by way of a special lens to particularly spotlight variations in strength capabilities between women and men.

Note that there’s quite a lot of variation with regard to how women and men metabolize sugar, produce hormones, and so forth — we will’t say each single girl of exactly equal weight and training historical past can have exactly the identical benefits over a person of the identical age and measurement and so forth and so forth, et cetera, et cetera. There are quite a lot of elements at play right here, however we do wish to spotlight some fairly fascinating analysis on feminine athletes that lots of people will not be conscious of. 

arnold woman deadlift

Hormones in fact play an enormous position in every intercourse’s capability to carry out effectively in sure disciplines. However, in terms of variability inside training quantity and depth (particularly in strength sports activities), elements corresponding to metabolic variations, fats storage, muscle fiber varieties, and naturally, hormones are massive gamers in how every gender responds to a given bodily job and the restoration charges that proceeds.

In a nutshell: While males can deal with heavier hundreds in shorter time spans (suppose 90%+ of their 1RM), ladies are extra set as much as carry out duties of strength over an extended time frame and for extra repetitions.

Typically, feminine athletes are capable of deal with extra quantity resulting from their absolute strength being decrease [than men],” explains world record-holding powerlifter and coach, Samantha Calhoun, MS, CSCS. “The diminished load induces much less stress for a similar quantity of quantity. It isn’t unusual for my feminine shoppers to carry out rep maxes that inaccurately replicate what they’re able to doing for a 1 RM.”

[Read our full interview with Samantha Calhoun here!]

In different phrases, men and women shouldn’t use the identical calculations to work out their 1-rep max as a result of ladies can endure extra quantity.

Let’s dive into it, lets?

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The first main issue right here is our metabolism. More particularly, how every intercourse goes about this course of in another way. While this may occasionally come as a shock for a lot of, ladies are extra metabolically geared up than males to carry out duties of strength over an extended and constant time frame. This could be measured by way of the speed of glucose uptake in a single’s muscle tissue as they bear a fundamental strength training session. Depending on the research you take a look at, whereas typically, males have a 50 to 100% increased charge of elevated fasting blood glucose, additionally they have a 30 to 50% slower charge of glucose uptake than ladies.(1)

Now, a fast pause for a lesson in terminology. As a key participant in our metabolic course of, glucose acts as gas for muscle contraction. Without glucose, your muscle tissue can’t do their job. Processing this gas and turning it into usable power to your muscle tissue (with the assistance of ATP and the mitochondria) lays out the premise of glucose uptake. The charge at which this course of occurs will differ based mostly on every intercourse’s genetic make-up.

So, let’s say for argument’s sake ladies typically have decrease fasting blood glucose ranges than males. This means they received’t have instantly have out there the required power for a heavy single as would most males. However, resulting from ladies’s faster glucose uptake course of, they’re capable of carry out endurance model lifting schemes higher than nearly all of males.

Still following? Good.

woman circus dumbbell overhead arnold

Estrogen and Strength Training

The second key participant right here is estrogen. You learn it proper—estrogen is partly accountable for ladies’s normal talents to deal with extra quantity in strength training than males.

“As a coach, you can use this knowledge as a starting point when programming an athlete you may not have as much experience with,” Calhoun factors out. “From there, the program can develop itself through the strengths and weaknesses of the individual athlete.”

Let’s say a feminine goes to carry out 5 units of 3 reps at 85% of her 1RM back squat. As she rests between every set, the method of glucose uptake kicks in to entry extra gas for her muscle tissue to make use of on her subsequent set. Now, we already know the speed at which glucose uptake occurs is quicker than males—that is the place estrogen comes into play.

All people have estrogen receptors on our mitochondria.(2) By giving your muscle tissue a robust stimulus, like these heavy again squats, you’ve given your metabolism the inexperienced mild to recruit extra power. This power could be discovered within the mitochondria and thru ATP (ie. glucose uptake). As ladies naturally produce and possess increased ranges of estrogen than most males, this abundance of estrogen is what permits the mitochondria in a feminine particular person to quickly consumption the out there hormone and instantly create the mandatory power to carry out duties of strength. This leaves them feeling energized and able to go for his or her subsequent set.

A better demand for gas (or glucose) means estrogen receptors on the mitochondria will probably be intaking as a lot of this hormone as attainable to supply available power permitting for optimum muscular contraction.(3) Estrogen will not be the strength zapper it’s been crack as much as be.

This signifies that because of ladies’s fast pure manufacturing of estrogen, they might obtain muscular restoration quicker than males. The extra demanding the amount, the upper the demand for power manufacturing, the quicker the restoration.

woman back muscles arnold

Men Vs Women’s Muscle Fibers

The final key participant I wish to contact on is our variations in muscular fibers. While ladies sometimes have about two thirds the muscle mass males do, they’ve a higher proportion of Type 1 muscle fibers and capillary density.(4) We’re speaking round a 1 to 4 ratio of Type 1 fiber to whole fiber space on most muscle tissue. Since Type 1 muscle fibers maintain extra mitochondria and are typically recruited so much throughout extra “endurance” actions, this enables for an elevated capability to get extra blood circulation to the muscle and capability to oxidize glucose for prime quantity exercises. Hence, ladies can deal with their glucose higher than males, making them extra immune to fatigue throughout strength training.

In Conclusion

To sum it up, ladies can entry the required power for intra-workout muscular get well quicker than males. As talked about, the most important key gamers right here embody their faster glucose uptake course of (a.ok.a. power manufacturing and recruitment), increased ranges of estrogen, and higher ratio of Type 1 fibers than male people.

A male athlete can have a excessive chance of with the ability to carry out a real 1RM,” concludes Calhoun. “Whereas a feminine could hit a 3RM however may solely be capable of carry out a single at 2.5 to 5 kilos greater than her 3RM end result.”

This science goes method past simply hormones and muscle traits, however hopefully this may give you a superb base and understanding of the hidden variations that lie beneath the floor.

So girls, the following time your program calls to check quantity of reps, load that bar up. You is perhaps stunned at how effectively you’ll deal with it.


1. Faerch Ok, et al. Sex variations in glucose ranges: a consequence of physiology or methodological comfort? The Inter99 research. Diabetologia. 2010 May;53(5):858-65.
2. Liao TL, et al. Estrogen receptor-β in mitochondria: implications for mitochondrial bioenergetics and tumorigenesis. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Sep;1350:52-60.
3. Klinge CM. Estrogenic management of mitochondrial operate and biogenesis. J Cell Biochem. 2008 Dec 15;105(6):1342-51.
4. Staron RS, et al. Fiber kind composition of the vastus lateralis muscle of younger women and men. J Histochem Cytochem. 2000 May;48(5):623-9.



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