Should A Man And Woman Really Exercise Differently?

Over the years, there have been some gender stereotypes when it comes to
exercising, making certain workouts considered the best for men or the best for
women. One such stereotype is that men just want to build their biceps, while
women aim to build their quads and glutes. As a result, most women are shifting
towards cardio machines and yoga studios, and men prefer to train with free

But, should a man and woman really exercise differently?

In one word; No! Men’s workouts should not be different from women’s exercises
as there’s nothing like ‘gender-specific’ workouts. Besides, all workouts offer the
same benefits for everyone.
However, there are some important physiological and physical differences between
men and women that will impact your training.
So, let’s start from there!

Key Differences Between Men and Women When Exercising


Typically, women experience many physiological changes that men don’t, such as
the menstrual cycle or periods. The menstrual cycle is one of the major hormonal
changes that can affect the results of strength training among women. According to
a 2014 study conducted by SpringerPlus , women who focused on strength training
during the follicular phase (1st half of the menstrual cycle) gained more muscle
and strength compared to those who focused on the training during the Luteal
phase (2nd half of menstrual cycle).
According to experts, lower progesterone levels during the 1st half of the
menstrual cycle help women recover better and avoid muscle damage. On the
contrary, increased progesterone levels during the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle
may negatively affect recovery and muscle strength.

In addition, women experience hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
These physical and physiological changes can lead to a temporary increase in the
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), making most women experience greater food
cravings and hunger. For this reason, women usually have different needs for
minerals and vitamins than men during strength training.
Testosterone is another important hormone that plays a significant role in strength
training since it promotes muscle mass, strength, and growth. Since men have
higher levels of testosterone compared to women, they may put on muscle mass a
bit faster. Plus, men generally have larger bodies, helping them lift higher loads in
relation to their body weight. Therefore, men can lift heavier loads and put on
muscle faster than a woman of the same body weight after the same training
In comparison, women have significantly higher levels of estrogen hormone,
which is considered ‘catabolic’ since it supports muscle growth. However,
scientists now believe that estrogen supports muscle’s ability to convert glucose
into energy and prevents muscle damage.
Strength training triggers an increase in testosterone in men, thus increasing their
muscle strength. Women cannot experience the same effect since their bodies have
low testosterone levels. However, training leads to other hormonal changes in their
bodies such as higher levels of human growth hormone, which promotes muscle-
and tissue-building.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

When it comes to metabolism, women usually have a lower BMR, compared to a
man of the same height & weight. Therefore, women might require fewer calories
to maintain their body weight. However, this doesn’t mean that women should eat
less food than men. Instead, it suggests that women should be careful when
planning their meal plans to support their training goals.
Moreover, women handle metabolic stress better than men. This gives them better
endurance, even when both genders are exercising on the same strength level. On
the same note, women tend to have lower blood pressure in their arteries during
exercise. This supplies more oxygen and blood to their muscles than men and
allows fewer metabolic by-products to accumulate in the blood. As a result, this

allows their muscles to function for a longer duration under stress compared to

Bone Density

Women are more susceptible to lower or reduced bone mineral density at a
younger age, which can lead to osteoporosis. The United States Health & Human
Services Department even suggests that women usually have smaller, thinner, and
less dense bones compared to men. Moreover, bone density is significantly reduced
when the level of estrogen declines drastically post-menopause.
For those reasons, resistance training is necessary for women as it helps them to
improve their metabolism and joint health. Moreover, lifting weights will help
women strengthen their bones. Most personal trainers take this into account and
incorporate weight-bearing movements that stimulate bone growth later in life -for
both men and women!

Muscle Mass

Typically, men have more muscle and a larger skeleton than women. However,
women have more muscle strength and mass in their lower body compared to their
upper body, making their relatively lower body strength greater than that of men.
Besides, the gluteus maximus, which is the largest body muscle, is located at the
back of the hip. While quadriceps (the 4 muscles making the front of the thighs)
are located under the hip line and the hamstrings are located at the back of the
thighs. These large muscle groups can exert significant force, thus helping to
improve posture and stabilize the body. However, women are more susceptible to
increased muscle mass decline as they age compared to men, a condition known as
Other than that, all muscles function and look the same way, regardless of whether
you’re a man or a woman. Therefore, resistance training workouts for men don’t
have to differ from those of women.


Apart from hormonal changes, there are no significant differences between
workouts for men and women. Therefore, men and women don’t necessarily have
to exercise differently as they can benefit from the same training programs.
However, women may require more frequent workouts and higher training volume
to optimize their progression rate because of the physiological differences we’ve
mentioned above.


About the author:

Erik Brown
Founder: Treadmill Express Plus