11

votes

Exercise for females - any different than for men?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 20, 2011 at 5:08 PM

I'm just wondering if the current primal/paleo exercise paradigm is too male-oriented. Would women have been more likely to sprint or dance, for example? Does the female body and hormonal environment change the rules at all or is what's good for the goose...

I have two daughters, playing travel softball - so my question mostly relates to them.

I'd like to hear from female athletes especially as to whether gender should be considered in planning workouts. But of course, y'all can weigh in!

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 08, 2012
at 02:32 PM

The actual title of the book is _New Rules of Lifting for Women_ by Lou Schuler with Cassandra Forsythe, workouts by Alwyn Cosgrove. "Lift like a man, look like a goddess" is the subtitle. The book may be easier to find with a casual search by using the title/author.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 28, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm so sorry you went through that. I think all women of a certain age have experiences like this and they are all crushing. Being banned from something you love just because of gender. We all need a hug for surviving that era intact and strong. ((()))

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 28, 2011
at 06:52 PM

My daughter is a infant/toddler Montessori teacher. She has huge shoulder and back muscles from lugging kids around like paleo moms had to.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:39 PM

+1 to The Quilt for helpful info that could help prevent injury. Thanks!

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:02 PM

When progesterone surges this is when laxity occurs. Progesterone comes from the corpus luteum and relaxin comes a bit later just prior to shedding the endometrial lining. Women are also more likely to tear their ACL's then as well. The numbers for soccer player and basketplayers are astounding when you look at them. Sadly most orthopods dont ask about a womens cycle when she comes in with the injury. I see the the disc injuries and SI injuries all the time so meredith's injury hits home for a spine guy.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:19 PM

+1 - Thanks for the reference. I am moving in this direction....slowly...and maybe reading this book will bump me over the edge.;) Right now I do resistance/strenghth training on a circuit with hydraulics.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:15 PM

+1, great and helpful answer, grounded in your experience. Thanks!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:14 PM

+1 - How fortunate your daughters are to have you as their Dad. Obviously thoughtful, heartfelt question.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 09:13 PM

Totally agree but in general we are equal. True we have to watch ourselves during the times you mention but those times shouldnt exclude us from the same sports. I've never seen women bow out of a game for menstruation.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:03 PM

+1 - Great reponse - YES!

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:46 PM

In the context of the law, jobs etc I agree that "women are people too," but in the context of biology it is not the case. So much of what we focus on in paleo eating has to do with hormonal changes (insulin, testosterone) and in this respect men and women are very different. Ignoring this won't help anyone optimize their workouts for peak performance or reaching their goals. Women can do the same things as men if their goals are to prove that they are "just as good," or something, but if they have specific goals in mind then there may be a better solution taking biology into account.

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:42 PM

"hunger-gather" - freudian slip of some kind? Good answer nonetheless.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:03 PM

awesome link! ty

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I think there is a difference for performance basis bit not for health.

4b61b13ed39e5c5d01fe234900cadcf8

(1138)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:01 PM

great answer... didn't know that about ligaments and muscles during cycles.

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9 Answers

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16
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I am on both sides of the fence here.

As a woman who likes to keep fit, I adhere to the "lift like a man" method. I go heavy, Olympic style lifts. I also do high intensity intervals. I used to (as a teen and in my 20s) run long distances, but it did little for my body composition. In fact, I was pretty flabby, but skinny.

On the flip side, I have had two babies and worked out hard through both pregnancies. Ligaments become lax in pregnancy and I did hurt my SI joint which I am still rehabbing a year and a half later. In researching the ligament laxity issue I learned that even non-pregnant ladies have periods of laxity during their menstrual cycle.

Midway through the cycle, the level of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which gives strength to muscles and ligaments, drops dramatically, resulting in sudden weakness. At the end of the cycle levels of another hormone, relaxin, rise. This is to allow the cervix to open so that menstruation can occur, but it also means the ligaments in general are softened. The researchers found that strains and other injuries were more likely at both these stages.likely at both these stages.

Clearly there is a different between men and women. I don't think women should treat themselves like fragile pieces of glass. But it is important to take these hormonal fluctuations into account when performing heavy lifting, plyometrics, etc.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:39 PM

+1 to The Quilt for helpful info that could help prevent injury. Thanks!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:15 PM

+1, great and helpful answer, grounded in your experience. Thanks!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 09:13 PM

Totally agree but in general we are equal. True we have to watch ourselves during the times you mention but those times shouldnt exclude us from the same sports. I've never seen women bow out of a game for menstruation.

4b61b13ed39e5c5d01fe234900cadcf8

(1138)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:01 PM

great answer... didn't know that about ligaments and muscles during cycles.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:02 PM

When progesterone surges this is when laxity occurs. Progesterone comes from the corpus luteum and relaxin comes a bit later just prior to shedding the endometrial lining. Women are also more likely to tear their ACL's then as well. The numbers for soccer player and basketplayers are astounding when you look at them. Sadly most orthopods dont ask about a womens cycle when she comes in with the injury. I see the the disc injuries and SI injuries all the time so meredith's injury hits home for a spine guy.

6
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:06 PM

You're correct to an extent - the paleo/primal paradigm is male dominated but only because a lot of women tend to be scared about "bulking" up or intimidated by jumping into convos about traditionally male-dominated sports/nutrition.

Having said that, I do not think sports and athletics are any different for women. My two girls dominate their male counterparts in many athletics and killed the president's fitness test this year. For me, I was totally intimidated by weight lifting until I took a class to force myself to do it. I was one of 3 women in the class but the only one who took it as a way to improve my body and not just to "meet men". After the first couple of months I was hooked and the men started treating me as an equal. In fact, they pushed me harder at times and for that, I was grateful. There was no double standard.

That righteous woman at Stumptuous along with the Crossfit women are making amazing strides in proving that women are equal to men in the athletics dept.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:03 PM

awesome link! ty

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:03 PM

+1 - Great reponse - YES!

5
Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 08:53 PM

I think the most important thing is your daughters being FREEEEEEEEEEEEE to choose and having maxiumum exposure...never, ever, ever being limited by gender stereotypes.

I grew up in an era in which the world still ran on "Betty Crocker vs Marlboro Man."

I was a very inherently athletic young girl who lived and breathed to be moving.

Cutting to the chase, I did play tennis, ran some during PE in school( but there was NO opportunity for a female track, for instance) and played competitive sports like hockey and soccer during PE and competitively with other girls teams.

What I would have loved was running and running hurdles. I was made for it. When I was 12, the boys used to be out practicing for track and hurdles after school. I began running and jumping hurdles without asking anyone if I could, etc, alongside the boys, or inbetween when they were running/jumping.

Within a very short time, I was banned from running/jumping. The problem? I could out-run and out-jump all the boys and this was NOT ok. I was told much later, when I was in highschool, by a female PE teacher who had been at the school where this happened, that the male coach has timed me and I'd broken some kind of time running the 60 yard dash.

I didn't give a toot about records or even, really, about competing. I was a young girl in motion who loved being in motion with every cell of my being and who needed it too.

The import of this experiece is that still, now, at the age of 58, I find myself tearing up as I write this.

So, yeah. Women and men are different. And even among only women, we are different at different ages. But those differences are not what is most important about us. They do not and cannot define us.

I don't think in today's world, what I experieced would ever be overtly played out with young girls today.

But being free to choose and free to develop and free to push limits is a big, big deal and nothing should ever stand in the way of any girl/woman taking her body and psyche to whatever outerlimits, self defined, that she chooses.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 28, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm so sorry you went through that. I think all women of a certain age have experiences like this and they are all crushing. Being banned from something you love just because of gender. We all need a hug for surviving that era intact and strong. ((()))

5
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on June 20, 2011
at 05:59 PM

From a health, fitness and safety standpoint, I think women are much better off focusing on stereotypically 'manly' exercises like lifting and carrying very heavy things, and making muscle gain a priority. We don't naturally have as much muscle mass or strength as men due to hormones, it takes hard work to create that and lots of cardio works against it. Lean mass is one of the best predictors of long-term health and longevity.

In a paleolithic setting I suspect women did lots of walking, squatting, repetitive tasks requiring strength like digging for tubers, smashing nuts and cracking bones, and tons of load-bearing; carrying young children, camp supplies, and food, often at the same time. This is typical in all hunger-gather societies and in many nomadic/pastorialist ones as well; women carry most or all of the loads while traveling, often transporting more than their own bodyweight across long distances.

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:42 PM

"hunger-gather" - freudian slip of some kind? Good answer nonetheless.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 28, 2011
at 06:52 PM

My daughter is a infant/toddler Montessori teacher. She has huge shoulder and back muscles from lugging kids around like paleo moms had to.

3
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:53 PM

There's a book called, lift like a man look like a goddess. Very cool. It's all about how women should lift weights like men do. The health benefits are amazing and aesthetically they end looking toned and beautiful. Don't fear weights.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 09:19 PM

+1 - Thanks for the reference. I am moving in this direction....slowly...and maybe reading this book will bump me over the edge.;) Right now I do resistance/strenghth training on a circuit with hydraulics.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 08, 2012
at 02:32 PM

The actual title of the book is _New Rules of Lifting for Women_ by Lou Schuler with Cassandra Forsythe, workouts by Alwyn Cosgrove. "Lift like a man, look like a goddess" is the subtitle. The book may be easier to find with a casual search by using the title/author.

3
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I don't believe there are any reasons for females to do different types of exercise than men. After doing Crossfit for over a year, there is nothing that limits me in the workouts that has anything to do with being female. I can do all the same olympic lifts etc that a man can do (just less weight generally). Sprinting, running, body weight movements, pull-ups etc seem to me to be no different between the sexes.

1
Fa361df4b3f2d5aa13aa6a73dbf8d88b

(152)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:18 PM

1) As a female, I love sprinting. Of all the different types of workouts I do, sprinting is, by far, my favourite. 2) I think from a health perspective, the basis is the same for men and women. When it comes down to performance, body composition, etc I think that is where you start to see differences amount people, in general.
I think the differences stem from a)differences in the stereotypical male and female workouts; b) what society considers male appropriate and female appropriate. I think if you strip away both factors, the differences are purely different.

I think there is a baseline that is good for overall health, and the rest (as long as it does not hinder your health) is up to the individual to decide. And this will likely change throughout life, circumstances, etc.

I think that a base workout problem needs strength, sprints, flexibility and enjoyment.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:46 PM

I hope I don't get yelled at for this, but in the kids thread I said "kids are just little people", and here I'll just say "women are people too".

Really there are no big differences among men and women. Women may be slightly better adapted for endurance while men can sprint better on average. But I don't see any reason why a woman would do different exercises than a man. At our gym the women do everything the same as the guys, we just scale the prescribed weights by 2/3 for the women, that's the only change.

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:46 PM

In the context of the law, jobs etc I agree that "women are people too," but in the context of biology it is not the case. So much of what we focus on in paleo eating has to do with hormonal changes (insulin, testosterone) and in this respect men and women are very different. Ignoring this won't help anyone optimize their workouts for peak performance or reaching their goals. Women can do the same things as men if their goals are to prove that they are "just as good," or something, but if they have specific goals in mind then there may be a better solution taking biology into account.

0
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on July 28, 2011
at 03:35 PM

I feel that a great sweep of what you are looking for is over in Krista's site http://www.stumptuous.com/

Always something fresh there.. Like http://www.stumptuous.com/ladies-who-lift

The visual results might be a bit different male vs female, but that's appearance, not health and fitness.

I think everyone should lft weights... We all lose muslemass as we age, and if we want to be able to take care of outsold in old age, we need to be stronger NOW.

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