If you’ve ever been searching over the world wide web for fitness related articles regardless of the quality, you will notice a great deal if not all of them are written by males. Although this doesn’t strike me as a major issue, the problem is we like to talk about things that a relevant to us and the factors that impact females are somewhat overlooked. You’ll also be hard stretched to find a comprehensive series on how females are physiologically different to males and what considerations as coaches we should be making when it comes to nutrition and programming for females.
Greg Nuckols at the Strength Theory have flipped the script and put together a 3 part series covering everything from differences in metabolism, nutrition and cravings to bone mineral and density loss and training recommendations for females.
Reading this 3 part series will leave any coach well equiped to start tackling the most complicated of female clients. As a coach if you can show the opposite sex that you understand their nutrition and training needs from a physiological perspective, then they are much more likely to become clients! Seek to understand.
“Women tend to have about 2/3 the muscle mass and 2x the fat of men, but tend to have substantially better metabolic health. On the surface, you’d expect someone with more muscle and less fat to be more metabolically healthy. However, the numbers tell a different story. In men, depending on the study, rates of elevated fasting blood glucose are 50-100% higher, whole body blood glucose clearance is ~15% slower, and the rate of glucose uptake in muscle is ~30-50% slower.”
“One study (not survey) of Hungarian athletes in a variety of sports found that 48.2% of women had no change in performance across their menstrual cycle, 30.7% performed slightly worse during the pre-menstrual period and first few days of menses, and 13.1% performed better.
In another survey, 69.7% of women not taking oral contraceptives said menstruation negatively impacted their performance, while only 31% taking oral contraceptives reported the same. Interestingly, for these women, the primary reason cited for decreased performance wasn’t decreased strength or endurance, but rather increased feelings of lethargy and (I quote) a “can’t be bothered attitude.”
So, taken as a whole, there’s HUGE variation in how much PMS symptoms and menstruation affect performance”
“Osteopenia is when the numbers on a BMD test are lower than they should be, but not yet in the range of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile. It is the most common bone disorder and can lead to a poorer quality of life due to inactivity, as well as an increased risk of death.
Regardless of a woman’s age, please do not read this as a death sentence; it simply signals that lifestyle changes should be considered.
Preparation will always trump blind optimism. BMD loss can be slowed with weight bearing exercises, so why wait until the numbers start dropping before deciding to make a change?…”
“Training: The Benefits and Recommendations
Before I get into specific recommendations on programming for this population, let’s run through some of the different training goals a coach and trainee should consider: training for body composition, training for coordination and balance, training around hot flashes, training for heart health, and training around lack of sleep.
Disclaimer: These are suggestions that will need to be tweaked in order to best fit you and/or your client’s needs. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to training people, so please use this as a guide, not a to-do list…”