Iron isn’t sexist. Neither is sweat. More and more stereotypes get shattered daily as women join the elite ranks of Spartan races, American Ninja Warrior and CrossFit competitions. Yet that ever-progressing equality does not necessarily extend to the weight room, and sometimes it flat-out does not make sense to train like a man. Distinct gender differences designed by Mother Nature affect everything from body shape to internal chemistry to physical strength. But that which makes us different also can make us stronger. Read on to discover how to play to your strengths.
Your Center of M(ass)
Men carry proportionally more mass — both fat and muscle — in their upper bodies, while we women tend to be more bottom-heavy. This means our center of mass is lower, which is not necessarily a bad thing: We are more stable and controllable because our relative weight is closer to the ground, meaning we are rock stars at things like yoga and pistol squats. But upper-body moves like pull-ups and muscle-ups are more of a challenge because our ratio of upper-body muscle to total-body mass is less as compared to men.
Take advantage of your lower center of mass and implement exercises such as skater jumps and agility drills to further hone your balance and flexibility, develop strength and power, and burn mega-calories. And while pull-ups and push-ups may be warm-up moves for men, you can use them for developing strength and muscle mass. Can’t quite get your chin above the bar? Use those super-strong legs to jump up to grab it, then take advantage of the muscle-building negative on the way down.
Mass Builder: Burpee Pull-Up
Stand underneath a pull-up bar, then crouch, place your hands on the ground and jump your feet back into plank. Do a push-up, then hop your feet back underneath you and explode upward to grab the bar. Use that upward momentum to help you do a full pull-up, then lower slowly back down. Drop off the bar and go right into the next burpee.
While we’re on the subject of upper vs. lower body, men are notorious for training their arms, shoulders and abs — their mirror muscles — while women are obsessed with training legs and glutes. It’s only natural that you want to play to the strengths you already have and kill it in the squat rack, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if your goal is to balance your physique aesthetically and make your lower body appear smaller without actually shrinking it, then think like a man and hone in on your upper half. From a body-sculpting standpoint, having wider lats and shoulders makes your waist look smaller and gives you an hourglass silhouette.