How Women's Fitness Differs From Men's
Women can be just as fit as men, but that level of "fitness" will never quite be the same. Women's bodies are different from men's. Not only do men and women have different levels of hormones, but the amount of fat and muscle in their bodies is very different as well. Your goal should be to work out for you, according to your gender, body mass and target goals!
Where Men and Women Differ
It's not just the sex organs that are different among men and women, but there are a few marked differences:
Testosterone -- Men have higher levels of testosterone than women, and women have higher levels of estrogen than men. Testosterone is the hormone that helps the human body to pack on muscle, while estrogen leads to the growth of fat cells, along with all of the other markers of female sexuality. Women have a harder time packing on the muscle due to higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of testosterone.
Weight Loss -- What is the most effective way to burn fat and lose weight? Build muscle! The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn every day and the faster your metabolism will run. Seeing as men have an easier time building larger, more active muscle, it stands to reason that men will have an easier time losing weight as well. The same quality and amount of workout will often yield better results in men than in women.
Flexibility -- This is one area where women always take the cake. Women are naturally more flexible than men, as their bones are shorter and have less pronounced corners. The female body tends to be more rounded, and the bones around the pelvis are more flexible than men's pelvic bones.
Muscle Mass -- Men naturally pack on more muscle mass than women, due simply to their higher testosterone levels. If you measured the body mass index of the average man against an average woman of the same weight, the man will usually have a lower body mass index (indicating greater muscle mass).
Body Mass Index -- The body mass index determines the ratio of fat to total body weight. Women tend to have a higher body mass index (meaning more fat), but a "healthy" BMI for women is about 5% higher than for men. This is because the fat on a woman's body is important for healthy reproductive function.
What does this mean?
Basically, it means that men have a slightly easier time getting in shape than women do. Men can build muscle more easily, which will in turn help them to lose weight and get in shape. Men also have more strength than women, and they can handle heavier loads more quickly.
That doesn't mean that women can't get in shape as well. It just means that they need to find a workout program that plays to their strengths, and they shouldn't try to compete with their fellow man. If you're not seeing the same amounts of gain as your boyfriend/husband/male friend, don't worry about it! Your bodies are designed differently, and what is "fit" to you is not the same as his definition of "fitness".
By Andrew Peloquin