Girls to the front: why we need female-specific training tips
I’m going to kick this off with a moan (not my usual vibe, but bear with me!).
Sometimes it can feel like 99.99% of the fitness content available online is aimed at men. Written by men, who have often only ever worked or trained with other men. So c’mon internet… where are the female-specific training tips at?
Don’t get me wrong, there are heaps of important training approaches that apply to both sexes. There’s also nothing that says us ladies can’t hit it just as hard as men during exercise. But, there are some important physical and physiological differences between the sexes (hormones, our natural muscle mass, and base-level strength) that means a few tweaks to certain exercises will help us get the best out of our bods and stay injury free.
How certain exercises are performed will be determined by the structure of your pelvis and how loose or tight your ligaments are, and yup, you guessed it…both of these factors are influenced by gender.
The pelvis shape most common in women tends to create an over-arch in the lower back (known as lumbar lordosis), which can be accentuated during strength training. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid these kinds of exercises (in fact, strength training is absolutely vital for us ladies!) but you need to ensure you're doing them with the correct posture to protect your back.
Try to position your hips so they are in the same line as your rib cage. If you know you are prone to over-arching, work on strengthening your hamstrings, your core, and do plenty of hip extension exercises. These will help tilt your pelvis back into a more neutral position.
Flexible joints and hypermobility
That pelvis again. As mentioned above, your pelvis shape, together with the looseness or tightness of your ligaments, will determine your range of movement in many exercises.
If you're super duper flexible (otherwise known as hypermobile), it means the ligaments surrounding your joints are loose, putting the joints at risk of damage. Fun fact: hypermobility is far more common in women. Think about that girl in your yoga class who just has to click her fingers and she’s in the splits… that’s hypermobility!
As impressive as those instant splits may be, if you’re hypermobile you actually often have to decrease how far you go into certain exercises to protect your hips, shoulders and knees.
Bonus tip: oestrogen acts like an anti-inflammatory, so you might not feel injuries as quickly as you should. If you do feel aches and pains from exercise, don't ignore them! Listen to that body girlfriend.
Worried about correct posture or alignment? The Bod Squad by Rikki Lee 12-Week Challenge is an outdoor boot camp just for women, which means I take these female-specific training points into account and ensure each exercise is tailored to your individual structure and flexibility. It’s all about female empowerment, with an emphasis on achievable fitness goals in a safe, inclusive environment.