One question many women ask themselves is how they should be training different from their male counterparts. Women have a tendency to think that they have special needs being a female and if they trained in a similar manner to that of a guy, they would start resembling a guy; growing more muscles then they desire.
Unfortunately, this is a big mistake on their part.
The main thing you have to keep in mind here is that, yes, there are hormonal differences between males and females that will cause them to react in slightly different ways to exercise, and sure, most females probably will struggle a little more with that last little bit of stubborn body fat (probably not what you wanted to hear), but physiologically speaking, both males and females do still have quite a bit in common and females don't need a completely special way of training.
The fact of the matter is that most females are just not going to grow that big. You do not have the testosterone present in your body to do so, so unless you are supplementing with additional testosterone (which 99% of you aren't), building massive muscles should be the least of your concerns.
So, that means, lifting heavier weights does not necessarily translate to a large degree of muscle mass built for you.
Point two to this is that females typically do develop muscle at about half the rate of men, thus, again, this even further proves that you should not be concerning yourself with the thought that you'll spout gigantic muscles overnight if you so much as pick up something heavier than 10 pounds.
The Typical Female Workout
Most females, when first beginning their journey into fitness, will head straight to the cardio equipment and put in a good thirty minutes to an hour per day doing whatever mode is their choice.
Not that cardio isn't a good idea - keeping your heart in good cardiovascular shape is always important, but, in terms of aesthetics and improved fat burning and body shaping capability, cardio really is not going to be your best option.
Couple that with the fact that these same women will either avoid lifting weights altogether or only lift very light dumbbells for a high number of reps (thinking they will "tone" their muscles), and you are definitely in for a lack of results in most cases.
A Better Way
Right from the get go, it's best if you can wrap your mind around the idea that if you really want to change your body, weight training is going to be the way to do it, coupled with a good diet plan.
Diet and lifting trump hours on the cardio equipment any day of the week as far as fat loss is concerned. Sure, some cardio will help speed the process, but you really do need to be careful here because more does not equal better when it comes to this side of the fitness equation.
So, what you should do is first is get yourself on to a lifting routine.
Start researching the various workout programs that are out there. You have three day, full-body splits, upper/lower four day/week splits, and some do still choose to use a body part split; however, generally speaking this is not the most recommended type of set-up according to current research trends.
Once you've got this figured out and have proper lifting technique and weight loading in place, then your next move is working out a good diet.
Far too many women also get set in the mind-set that they can make up for a less than proper diet by doing more cardio. While again, cardio will burn off calories so theoretically you can eat more food when doing more cardio, this is not the most productive way to go about doing things.
With high volumes of cardio women's bodies can react in funny ways and actually start to hold on to body fat more, so you will be short-circuiting your results by adopting this practice.
In all reality, the diet should be doing most of the weight loss for you (assuming this is your goal, likewise for those wishing to gain muscle mass), and then cardio is just thrown in to add heart health benefits and to help with nutrient partitioning (direct more of the calories towards muscle cells and fewer towards fat cells).
So, Do Men And Women Really Need To Train Differently?
In a general sense, no. Both men and women need to apply the same general principles: heavy lifting, a proper diet, enough rest to ensure overtraining doesn't set in, and cardio to supplement their program.
Where women do differ - once you get down to much lower body fat levels and you are then trying to get rid of those last few pounds. At this point, due to estrogen levels and a mix of other factors it may be necessary to do some things slightly different.
Another area where females and males differ slightly as well is in total volume of the workout. Most often, females will have to scale back slightly on the volume of the workout (total sets of lifting performed), just because they frequently will have slightly reduced recovery capacities in comparison to most males.
This is an easy factor to get around though so long as you are paying attention to your workout program design and taking steps to ensure overtraining doesn't set in.
So, next time you are contemplating what direction you should take your training and whether or not you need to set special circumstances for yourself being a female, keep this information in mind.
Just because you train the same as a male, does not mean you will end up looking the same as a male. Training theory is still training theory and general principles that work can be applied to both sexes.