Three Fitness Tips That Men Can Learn From Women

In case you hadn’t heard, men’s and women’s are different. We’re all pretty aware of these differences, whether its your hormonal wellness, body hair or body parts and, as a result, there is a major difference in how both sexes like to workout. It’s an easy generalisation to make that a man might prefer to lift weights, while a woman would favour a fitness class such as Zumba. However, there are many more, much subtler differences, to how we like to take care of our wellbeing.


Richard Lopez, PhD, a professor in Exercise Sciences at Florida International University, notes, ‘When thinking about gender differences, I consider the role of biology, but I also am thinking about influential factors like culture, significant people in our lives, mass media, and what we consider to be “reliable” sources of information.’ What does this mean? According to Marta Montenegro, the creator of the Montenegro Method DVD workout series with a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology, ‘We—depending on our gender—tend to do the same things we always do. And that can hurt your training efforts.’ As it turns out, there’s a lot men can learn from the way women work out.


As a man, your testosterone kicks in when you’re having a killer training session in the weight room, making you want to go for heavier weights or more macho lifts. However, this cheating will only undermine your progress. Experienced female lifters, on the other hand, cheat less when working to exhaustion, Lopez points out. Brad Schoenfeld, 2011 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year and author of The MAX Muscle Plan, agrees, noting, ‘All too often, guys go overly heavy when lifting, frequently at the expense of proper form. Not only is this a poor way to maximize muscle development, it is bound to lead to injury. Focus on maintaining good technique during every set. If you can’t lift a given weight properly, go lighter.’ So what top tips can men glean from the fairer sex?


1. Work Your Legs: ‘When most men think “big and ripped,” they think all about the upper body – pecs, biceps, shoulders,’ says Montenegro. ‘While beach-muscles are great, you can only build them to their full potential if the appropriate hormonal response is taking place. Numerous studies show that to spike the growth hormone and Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), which are critical to build up muscle mass and to shrink body fat, a large muscle mass recruitment must occur. And that means working your legs.’ Schoenfeld adds, ‘By not training your legs, you miss out on the foundation of almost all functional movements for pretty much every activity and sport.’


2. Open Your Mind: Mind-Body classes, such as yoga, aren’t popular with men – but you’re missing out. While they may not help you pile on the muscles, mind-body workouts offer other important health benefits, such as managing low back pain, blood pressure and stress. Montenegro comments, ‘These exercises also incorporate isometric strength—contracting the muscle while holding it–which is good for strengthening specific joint positions that may be helpful to better execute other resistance, power, and sports moves. For example, a warrior pose stimulates the core and hip stability that you need when doing lunges or split jumps.’


3. Join the Club: The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report on Health Club Activity Usage, Trends & Analysis states that almost two-thirds of group exercise participants are women. However, Tom Seabourne, PhD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quick Total Body Workouts, points out, ‘The principle of social facilitation states that men will work harder if someone is watching.’

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