The myth that women and men need to train drastically different is slowly dying a long-awaited death.

Thankfully, we’re getting past the stage where people believe that women need to train with ultra-light weights for high reps, or that they should stick solely to machines, and avoid free-weights or a high-protein diet for fear of bulking up.

While this change is very welcome in the evidence-based fitness community, it has lead to a huge generalization that men and women should train exactly the same.

Cards on the table time:

If a woman who wanted to get stronger, build some lean muscle and lose fat took a generic routine, or a program aimed at a male lifter and followed it to the letter, they’d get results, but those results wouldn’t be optimal.

While the basics of programming stay the same, there are some small (but significant) differences that any woman serious about lifting needs to take into account.


Put the Big Rocks First

The big rocks of training are the same regardless of gender, age, training experience and goals.

If you want to increase strength and size, or train to maintain muscle and strength in a cut, then you need to –

  • Perform mostly compound moves
  • Use at least 60-70% free weights
  • Train using a variety of rep ranges, alternating between strength, power, hypertrophy and endurance, with the frequency of each dependent on your goals.
  • Hit muscle groups or lifts twice a week or more.
  • Push yourself, working to around an RPE of 8 to 9 on most sets, in most sessions.
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