Should Women Train Differently Than Men?

Despite what you will see perpetuated across the internet or fitness magazines, there really isn’t that big of a difference between how women and men should train.

The common misconception that women will get huge from lifting weights is one of the biggest fitness myths out there.  There are a few reasons for this, but the main reason comes down to hormones.  Men produce on average 10 times more testosterone than females, so for a female to put on muscle mass just isn’t that easy.

In fact, for most females to get “toned”, lifting weights is precisely what they should be doing.  First of all, there is no such thing as “toning” a muscle.  What you are really asking for when you say this is more muscle mass and less body fat.  And the only way to achieve this is to build lean muscle by getting stronger, lifting progressively heavier weights, and burning fat through high-intensity cardio.


So with that being said, most of everything I write for Primal Strength Camp applies equally to both men and women.  Women can benefit greatly by training with the boys, but there are some nuances that you should be aware of.

Muscle Mass Distribution

Men naturally have more muscle mass overall.  Specifically, women carry less muscle mass in their upper body which is why females commonly struggle with things like pull-ups and pushups.  Women will need to spend more time on their upper bodies to account for this.

Rest Times

Women recover faster than men do.  In most training programs, the prescribed rest times are built around males and, in actuality, are too long for females.  If you see rest times of 90 – 120 seconds, women should probably shave 30 seconds off those intervals (60 – 90 seconds).

Power Output

Females tend to have lower lung capacity and smaller hearts than men.  Couple this with less muscle mass, and women are naturally less powerful.  Getting stronger has a lot to do with improving power, so women should consider working more techniques into their programming to develop explosiveness.

Cardio Considerations

Because women have less muscle mass than men, they burn less calories at rest, meaning they burn fat naturally more slowly than their male counterparts.  This means training with high-intensity cardio like hill sprints and sled work is crucial.  But going max-effort with that kind of training is stressful on your central nervous system, meaning you should only do it once or twice a week.  To get around this, women can fit in a couple more short weight circuits throughout the week to burn a little extra fat.


Studies have shown that women lose strength faster than men during non-training time.  Sorry ladies, but this means while men are lounging around during “off-season”, it may be more beneficial for you to train year round.


Overall, diets should be the same as far as focusing on macro-nutrients (especially protein and carbs).  However, the amounts and total caloric intake will obviously be much less for women due to muscle mass differences and total body weight.

So ladies, if you are looking for programs, know that you can train from a lot of what you find out there.  Just take some of these into consideration and you will be good to go.


— Tank

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