Resistance exercise for women: Myths and Truths

Regular exercise is known to improve health and reduce a large number of chronic diseases. Usually, participation in the exercise follows a traditional approach of separate resistance and aerobic exercise. This combination of exercise has shown to be able to improve body composition and improve the cardiovascular system in both the mild and the overweight individuals.


However, for several decades, women have been questioned about their physical abilities against men and their involvement in any kind of physical exercise was surrounded by various myths and suspicions. Most of these views are circumscribed in that a woman’s participation in a physical exercise program that involves resistance training or strength training will lead to a muscular body that goes beyond the limits of femininity. In this case, to enhance this view, examples of sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting and track and field sports come to light. Here, however, we must understand that this mass of women belongs to a totally different category as their training consists of continuous high tensions with a view to the continuous development of their athletic performance. In this scenario, there is an expected increase in muscle mass as the environment favors the existence of hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass).


In the midst of this development over the last decades, sports, coaches and women have begun to realize the importance of physical exercise to enhance their athletic performance in order to reduce the risk of injury and generally to develop a healthy lifestyle.


Women who regularly participate in resistance and strength training can improve their health, develop good feelings for themselves, reduce the risk of degenerative diseases (osteoporosis) and show their athletic performance. While in the past some women may have questioned the value of resistance or even avoided this type of exercise because of social stigma, the evidence clearly shows that women are able to withstand and adapt to the pressures of resistance, and that the benefits are important. The current interest in the female population in training resistance and strength training is evidenced by the large number of women who have now made the type of exercise as part of their lifestyle.


However, it is in the knowledge and at the hands of the coach / trainer to create a workout program which will ultimately have the above-mentioned benefits. It is necessary to highlight gender-related differences in body physiology, body composition and physiological responses to exercise during the design and evaluation of resistance and strength programs. Understanding these differences and areas of high importance in designing programs for women can help optimize performance and reduce the risk of various musculoskeletal injuries.


Savvas Savva BSc. MSc.

Strength & Conditioning Coach

Health and Exercise Professional