Do What Moves You: Finding Your Female Fitness
With Guest Blogger Sabrina Virdee
The best exercise routine is the one that you absolutely love doing. The one that moves you.
It’s no secret that we as women are built differently than men. Its imperative that these differences between us not limit our exercise routine to those we excel in, or even to those that we have been told to stick to by the health and fitness industry.
We as women tend to have greater flexibility and balance, tend to fatigue slower and recover much faster – thank you estrogen. At a genetic level woman tend to have larger slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are used in endurance related activities such as high-repetition resistance training, long-distance running, swimming, and yoga.
Although we tend to have higher body fat, and a lower baseline muscle mass, our overall increase in muscle mass in response to strength training may not be that different to that of a man. I will also not forget to share that we tend to see greater increases in strength, in comparison to our male counter parts, when incorporating strength training into our routines.
Since we are built differently, and tend to perform differently than men, does that mean we need to train differently than men? Sure, we have biological differences, but in no means should women, or men for that matter, stick exclusively to certain exercises over others. It does however mean that adjusting our training may allow us to realize our full potential and take great advantage of our strengths. If you want to get strong or toned, you need to lift heavy. If you want to compete in a marathon, you need to run. If you love the feeling you get after sprints, do them. And if yoga centers you, continue to practice.
Regarding our genetic advantage: with greater slow twitch muscles, slower time to fatigue, and a faster recovery time, women can handle higher repetitions and higher volume when it comes to strength training. This doesn’t mean that every one of our workouts should be high rep, high volume. Recognizing that we may excel in this type of workout, I believe it is equally important to incorporate heavier weight, lower repetition days to see significant improvements and gains.
If lifting weights is not your jam, this is still VERY applicable to you. I believe as women we need to do what serves us; we need to do what moves us.
We need to be able to find joy in our physical activity whatever that may be. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment for eating that extra cookie or enjoying a meal with our family. It should bring us a bit closer to loving ourselves every time we move. It should allow us to breathe deeper, love greater, and really feed our joy.
Seeing as we excel at high repetition, high volume workouts, these same adaptions allow us to excel at aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming, and spinning. The best part about this type of activity: women tend to display greater improvements in their mood compared to men. We can all use a mood boost from time to time.
In addition to our advantage in aerobic exercise, our tendency to have greater flexibility translates into activities like yoga and Pilates. Let me not forget to mention that you don’t need to break a sweat to say you exercised. There is something to be said about slowing things down and listening to our breath. You may also find that incorporating such routines will increase your awareness in strength training and aerobic exercises.
Being aware of our unlocked potential gives us the upper hand at strengthening other weaknesses, even if the improvements don’t come as quickly as we’d like. In saying this, while being aware of our genetic potential is advantageous, doing what we love consistently each day is what really matters most, and what will outweigh any predisposition to be exceptional at ANY activity. Training for your goals is good, but doing what moves us trumps all.If you have been thinking you aren’t good at “this” and feel you are far better at “that,” keep this in mind to hone-in on your strengths, but also improve on your weaknesses. Most importantly, remember no matter your genetic makeup, mindset is powerful and whatever the exercise is it must come from what moves you.