Should Men and Women Train Differently?

One topic that really shouldn’t be terribly controversial but seems to be and it comes up all the time is should women train differently than men? I’m Jesse Funk and on this episode of Runner’s High, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of whether or not the sexes are equal.

One topic that really shouldn’t be terribly controversial but seems to be and it comes up all the time is should women train differently than men? I’m Jesse Funk and on this episode of Runner’s High, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of whether or not the sexes are equal.

If you haven’t been with me here on the channel before, hit that subscribe button for more videos about running every Tuesday and Thursday, as well as interviews with experts on the Smart Athlete Podcast every Friday. Now, we want to talk about whether men and women should train differently. Obviously, my emphasis here on this channel is running. But we’re going to talk about strength training as well, because strength training plays an important part in running. So, if you’re here, just because you want to know about strength training, this video will still be relevant to you. But if you are a runner, or do any kind of cardio, then it is very, very important. Hit that subscribe button, stick around with me so you learn more about endurance training.

Now, I should get this out of the way to begin with. When we’re talking about are men and women equal, well, yes. Yes, they are. When we’re talking about fundamental rights and thoughts about humanity, are people equal? Yes. So, before we get trolls in, let’s get that out of the way because that’s not what we’re talking about at all. We’re not talking about liberties, or freedoms or inalienable rights, all of those things should be, at least in my opinion, a given. So, let’s talk about the actual physicality of the potential differences between men and women. I’ve had a lot of different coaches with a lot of different thoughts on this over the years. I mean, I’ve been at this nearly 20 years now. And I’ve had coaches from the beginning say, yes, men and women should train differently.

And then another coach in high school was saying, no, and he did not treat them differently at all. Which was really great for the women that he trained and he has so much success with his girl swim team, and girls coming out for cross country because he doesn’t baby them. He didn’t say, oh, well, you’re a girl, so we’ll treat you less than or anything like that, and he gets a lot of results. And that’s his philosophy. Then we go on to college, and I’ve had coaches say, again, yes, should treat them differently. Specifically, thinking about a particular swim coach, who I went back to work with because I needed help with swimming.

And he told me that no, they’re not the same. And one of the fundamental differences is that women can handle more training than men. Let me say that again. Women can handle more training than men. Now, the men would often be faster than the women. But the thing he had noticed through his years of coaching was that women could handle the day to day grind better than men. Men needed more rest or they wouldn’t break. Meaning that yes, the men had more explosive power, they could typically go faster. But if you continue to train them hard, they’re more fragile, they would break easier. And that was one of the differences he notices.

Now, that was anecdotal, but as I’ve gone through the research for this video to try to figure out what are the differences, that is something that came up over and over again. Because of the compositional difference between muscle groups, and again, we’re making generalities here .There’s going to be variations between person to person, but this is a generalization video. So, go with it. And generally speaking, the muscle composition that women have allows them to endure more training without overtraining.

And that’s very, very important when you’re trying to figure out a training schedule because women can often have less rest time and get back to training sooner than men can. But conversely, men can often handle higher loads or higher intensities than women can without breaking. So, there’s a very subtle difference there in trying to figure out what kind of training schedule you should be doing.

Now, if you want to talk about strength training, in particular, and this is still relevant to you if you’re a runner or an endurance athlete, because strength training helps you prevent injuries, as well as go faster. But if you want to talk about strength training in particular, I’m not the person to ask about the specifics of strength training. However, on the Smart Athlete Podcast again, here on this channel, I did get to interview an expert in strength training and that was Claire Zai back on Episode 59.

Claire is a powerlifter and she’s trying to get more women into the sport of powerlifting. Again, much like many, many sports, pretty much everything, the men are going to be stronger overall than women. But she wants to really break down the barrier of people thinking, oh, women just have to do high reps, low weight, they can’t lift heavy weights, can’t do all these things, that is not true. It’s simply not true.

But one of the things that I asked her because I wanted to know at the time, should men and women train differently, should women have any particular considerations compared to men that need to be taken into account when you’re training for powerlifting? And I believe, I’m going to paraphrase here, so I’ll link to her at the end of this episode so you can get the word straight from Claire. But she said yes, because women have a different hormonal cycle than men do.

And that does take into consideration that there’s an adjustment in recovery periods, and the ability to lift heavy on certain days, there are adjustments that have to be made. Again, if you listen to Claire, listen to her herself, she is an excellent resource for this because she lives it, she lives it. And she says yes, there’s a difference, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t participate in powerlifting and explosive sports because they absolutely can.

You have to get beyond some of the kind of pre-programmed settings we have with all the images the media portrays women to be or men really in some cases, but in this particular case, women and embrace your body and the person you want to be. Social diatribe aside, it’s another instance of where there are some small changes between what men and women should be doing. And it’s based on the physical differences between us not because just because you’re a woman, or just because you’re a man you’re inherently capable or less capable of doing one particular thing.

The last thing I want to touch on in this video before I link to that video with Claire is in my wheelhouse. And we want to go back to talk about running. There are some biomechanical differences between men and women in this because after puberty, women’s hips shift to make them more able to have a child. And that’s something you simply can’t get around, generally speaking. So, that affects how women move when they’re running. And in other situations, again, back with strength training, I know certain lifts need to be adjusted just slightly. It doesn’t mean that women can’t do them, but you need to pay attention to your own physiology. It’s simply a matter of the physics of it.

So, when we’re talking about biomechanics, women can tend to have a higher rate of hip issues because of how their hips are placed, and how they move through space, the biomechanics of it. So, when you take into consideration that there’s different hip placement and there’s more hip movement when women run you do have to do more strength training to make sure that all of those muscles and joints are healthy and not prone to injury. So, that doesn’t mean that women cannot train in running, absolutely not. There actually is a fair amount of evidence that women can actually go farther.

Now, I was looking this up, and I’m hoping you can help me because I could not find it. I swear, I swear, I swear in the back of my head, that I have seen that there’s a woman who actually holds the world record for longest run without stopping. Now I looked this up, I saw the record by Dean Karnazes back in 2005, this was when I was in high school. But I swear I had seen somewhere that there’s a woman who had beat his record by like three or four miles and Google was not being kind to me and helping me find this woman. I swear it’s out there, because it’s something that stuck in my mind that when we talk about this topic, and it’s been in my head for years now we want to say well, women are weaker.

And that is generally the case when you’re talking about explosive sports, but it always stood out in my mind that a woman held the record for the longest consecutive run without stopping. All I could find was that record by Dean Karnazes. I’m hoping you can help me because women are very, very capable endurance events because of that muscle makeup as I mentioned earlier, and the ability to do less rest and continue forward. I could not find it and I really wanted to find it for this video. So, hopefully you can help me find it. Maybe you got better Google fu than I do.

In any case, know that if your man or if you’re a woman, you can pursue whatever sport you want to pursue. Your gender should not play a role in the pursuit that you have because you enjoy that thing. If you want to run, run, if you want to lift, lift. If you want to play baseball, play baseball, whatever it is. I don’t like baseball, so kudos to you. But whatever your sport is, do it. Do know that there are particular things depending on your physiology that you may have to take into account.

Men, we’re going to need more rest because we’re more fragile and break easier. Women, you can probably train more than us more consistently and won’t be as prone to overtraining. So, if you want to hear from Claire, I’ll link to that video here shortly, should be popping up on the screen. And as always, I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.


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