Workout plans for women need to consider some key physiological differences between women and men.
Besides, good quality nutrition, the workout plans need to focus on reducing knee injury. The training program also needs to take advantage of the hormonal phases.
Points to consider in workout plans for women:
Every exercising female should be aware of the following points. It is also important for men to know the differences for the benefit of their female partners, family members or friends. Every exercise selection in any workout plans for women should consider the following points.
1) Knee injuries are 8 – 10 more common in women than men
- Women, proportionately, have wider hips than men. This creates a sharper angle between the calf and the thigh, placing more stress on the knees.
- Women’s kneecaps are also at higher risk of dislocation. The groove that the kneecaps ride on is shallower than men’s, offering less stability.
- Women’s cyclical hormonal changes affect the structural integrity of the joints. Increased estrogen cause laxity in ligaments and tendons, again, compromising the joints stability.
- Women’s knees tend to collapse inwards when landing from jumps or cutting motions in physical activities. This creates greater potential for ligament tear namely, the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
- Women’s natural side to side hip swaying, swings the body to balance the entire body on one leg on a flat fixed foot and low knee bend contribute to the higher risk of knee injury.
The control of trunk muscles affects knee instability and injury. The brain-and-nervous system subconsciously signals the trunk muscles to act.
Jump landings or unanticipated cutting movements need accurate sensory and rapid muscle responses to reposition the body. Women’s lesser neuromuscular control of trunk muscles decreases the robustness of the knee joint integrity. Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that men’s nerve impulses control are similar to individuals trained for explosive muscle usage i.e. like a sprinter while the women’s nerve impulses control are less explosive likened to that of an endurance-trained athlete, i.e. a marathon runner.
2) Hormonal cycle – re-jigging the workout plans for women
The menstrual cycle has a huge effect on women’s metabolic state. On some days, she will be a superstar performer and a week later she has low energy and lack of motivation. For better-personalized workout plans for women, it will take into consideration the hormonal changes.
Each month, a premenopausal woman’s body goes through a cycle of hormonal changes. The menstrual cycle consists of, in chronological order, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases. The first day of discharge marks the beginning of the follicular phase.
At each phase of the menstrual cycle, the body produces different amounts of estrogen, progesterone hormones. The relative estrogen-progesterone balance is the body’s fat or sugar fuel selector.
Timing workouts around hormones:
For women not on hormone replacement therapy, birth control pill the following applies
Follicular Phase Training: This is when women should get into anaerobic type training. During early to mid-follicular phase (day 1- 14), estrogen levels rise gradually. It peaks at about ovulation phase, while progesterone levels remain unchanged. Body temperature remains normal. The body is able to better handle oxygen debt type activities. As the phase proceeds further, estrogen level increases. The workout program can shift to heavier weight training or higher intensity resistance training. The high estrogen level increases joint laxity. Joints will be less stable and prone to injury.
For safety, it is imperative to be aware of this point when designing any workout plans for women.
Luteal Phase Training: During this phase, the women’s body tend to burn more fat during exercise. Also, be prepared to deal low energy, lack of motivation, giving in to cravings. Since fat burning is the preferred, it is optimal to back off on heavy weight training intensities. The workout plans for women can shift more towards low to medium intensity workouts or strength training.
- Workout plans for women need to focus on: strengthening trunk controlling muscles, glutes muscles for better hip stability, improve knee joint strength especially the teardrop muscle near the knees (VMO – vastus medialis oblique).
- The program also need to teach women to bend their knees to absorb the impact while landing from jumps or the shear of cutting motions in physical activities, whether related to sports or everyday daily living activities.
- Workout plans for women should plan to allow for fluctuations of energy and attitude towards exercise on that day. Understanding the menstrual cycle phases can ease frustrations for both trainee and trainer.
Personal Trainer’s Toronto-workout plan for women
At Personal Trainer Toronto, we personalized each of the workout plans for women. We have some of the best personal trainers in Toronto who are knowledgeable in training female clients and can provide in home personal training to various areas in Toronto and Greater Toronto Area to help you.
For more information on personal training especially in designing workout plans for women, please contact us via
1) Clark, Shannon,The Hormone Cycle and Female Lifters, T-Nation blog, Nov 19, 2014, available at: https://www.t-nation.com/training/hormone-cycle-and-female-lifters
2) Hewett TE, Why women have an increased risk of ACL injury, AAOS Now November 2010 Issue, available at: http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/nov10/research3.asp
3) Kraemer WJ, Mazzetti SA, Nindl BC, Gotshalk LA, Volek JS, Bush JA, Marx JO, Dohi K, Gómez AL, Miles M, Fleck SJ, Newton RU, Häkkinen K., Effect of resistance training on women’s strength/power and occupational performances, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6):1011-25, available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11404668
4) Wu, Betty N., O’Sullivan, Anthony J., Sex Differences in Energy Metabolism Need to Be Considered with Lifestyle Modifications in Humans, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 391809, 6 pages, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/391809, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2011/391809/
5) Oregon State University, Study explains why women are more prone to knee injuries than men, Medical Research News: Women’s Health News, Apr. 18, 2012, available at: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120418/Study-explains-why-women-are-more-prone-to-knee-injuries-than-men.aspx