The Importance of Strength Training for Women April 02, 2019 02:28 Follow Not signed in? Log into your Purple Patch account for full access to your education program for coaches and athletes. You need to sign in to view this page. Let's talk about strength training - for women. Sorry guys, this one isn't for you, but I still believe you will gain much from sticking along for the ride and enjoying the read. I don't need to inform you of my central belief that strength training (core, mobility, strength, explosive movements, and synchronization) is a critical, supportive element to endurance performance. No matter if we are discussing a world-class professional or a purely aspirational first-timer, I believe consistent strength training has an important role in performance. This concept is only amplified in importance if we look exclusively at the female athlete. Not only is strength and conditioning important, it is critical. There are several reasons for this, so by way of introduction to the topic, I thought I would outline. Before we dive into the nuts and bolts, let's remind ourselves of the reasons why strength training is important: Increases the number of fibers in the usable mix Improves coordination and synchronization of muscle movements It is a gateway to improved economy of movement Facilitates improved tissue health and joint mobility Heightens potential of sustainable power across disciplines These are valuable for male and female athletes alike, but a couple of pieces of the puzzle to performance and health boost the role for the female athletes. These include: Weight-bearing activity: As a female begins to age, we know there are hormonal changes that occur, including the transition through menopause. Post menopause, an average women's bone density can drop more than 50%, leading to a host of health and performance related issues. Endurance activity can not suppress this decline, but the load of properly designed strength training (as well as good supporting habits) will. This means it is ideal to have a runway of existing strength training well before these hormonal shifts take grip. Hormonal health: Whether navigating pregnancy, postnatal, or hormonal shifts with menopause, it is a minefield to retain hormonal health as an athlete. While adequate sleep and a proper diet are important, simply relying on catabolic endurance activity as the only source of fitness is not preferred. Instead, leaning into the anabolic (growth) nature of proper strength is important. A platform of strength: Women tend to have lower muscle mass and power generating ability than their relative male counterparts. Some male athletes can overcome the negative of no strength training, but women will always benefit from properly integrated strength. The raw baseline strength training will amplify the results from the endurance training. Yes, female athletes will benefit from strength across areas of tissue health, economy, and movement patterns, but these three reasons above make year-round strength programming a central part of any endurance athletes repertoire. Now, a final key reminder, this doesn't mean you will bulk up! Properly designed strength will not lead to a sudden transition to looking like a female bodybuilder. Quite the reverse. A smart program will include a host of exercises around stability, mobility, and synchronization. Beyond this, the mission will be to overload and over-recruit muscle fiber to evolve characteristics and increase cellular function. You will get stronger, without the body of the muscle increasing. To ensure this, embrace hitting high load strength in multi-muscle group movements (compound) but keep the repetitions on the lower end of the scale - around 3 to 7 reps. If you are chugging away at driving toward fitness but ignoring the hugely important role of strength and conditioning for the female athlete, then it is time to evolve your thinking!