Strength Training For the Women and Female Athlete

Strength training is critical for the female athlete. The average female is incapable of building significant muscle bulk through weight training. Significant muscle hypertrophy is dependent on the presence of the anabolic steroidal hormone testosterone. Testosterone is considered a male hormone, although all women possess some testosterone in their systems. Women with higher testosterone levels tend to have more masculine characteristics such as increased body hair, a deeper voice, and the potential to develop a little more muscle bulk.

With weight training, the female sees some remarkable gains in strength initially, even though muscle bulk does not increase. For a muscle to contract, an impulse must be transmitted from the nervous system to the muscle. Each muscle fiber is innervated by a specific motor unit. By overloading a particular muscle, as in weight training, the muscle is forced to work efficiently. Efficiency is achieved by getting more motor units to fine, causing a stronger contraction of the muscle. Consequently, it is not uncommon for a female to see extremely rapid gains in strength when a weight training program is first begun. These tremendous initial strength gains, which can be attributed to improved neuromuscular system efficiency, tend to plateau, and minimum improvement in muscular strength will be realized during a continuing strength - training program, These initial neuromuscular strength gains will also be seen in men, although their strength will continue to increase with appropriate training.

Perhaps the most critical difference between males and females regarding physical performance is the ratio of strength to body weight. The reduced strength - body weight ratio in women is the result of their higher percentage of body fat. The strength - body weight ratio may be significantly improved through weight training by decreasing the body fat percentage while increasing lean weight.
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