The size of a soccer field is the same for both sexes. The rules and other variables also are the same. This leads to the question, should men and women train differently? Or does the research rule otherwise on the matter.
Over time, women’s soccer has garnered global attention. While the fame increases, an unfortunate fact draws attention that only 15% of the current soccer research is about women. Thus, women’s games have only the coaches’ experience to rely on. Men and women have distinct physiologies and psychologies. And aren’t these two factors the most paramount in determining the training modality and methods?
So, the question of what type of training is for which gender has no answer. Training is not gender-specific. Rather, it depends on the body type. For all we know, men and women should do the same training, only changing the magnitude and degree of their workouts.
Physiological Differences that Define Training Methods
The prominent physiological difference between the two genders is their size. Men are mostly taller and bigger than women. They have more muscle mass and can be stronger than women of the same build. As soccer requires passes and running that demand considerable work and energy, the athletes need intense strength training to keep up with the game.
Two extreme notions exist regarding the training issue. First, women should train differently than men, or they’ll get bulky. Second, they should train exactly like them. Now, with the sparse research on the subject, we only know that the answer lies halfway between the aforementioned extremities.
Generally, when a man squats, he does greater work than a woman. He’ll experience more stress and hence, can undergo muscle damage early under tough sessions. On the other hand, a woman, generally smaller than a man and having greater body fat (less muscle mass), can go on squatting for a longer time. Also, she will not be prone to frequent muscle damage as men. So, women can train longer than men and recover faster between sets. In conclusion, women are one step ahead of men in terms of sets, reps per set, overall volume, and intense workouts.
Women can be as Strong as Men: A Myth or Reality?
While men’s training is more inclined toward intensity and power training, it’s unfortunate that women’s training revolves only around refining game tactics and communication with a lesser focus on strength and conditioning support.
A meta-analysis shows that women receive limited S&C sessions, and fewer weightlifting components are involved in their training. It results in sub-optimal performance gains and has implications for their physical development. Therefore, despite their skill, this discrimination makes women soccer players fall behind in the competition.
Though, if we look at the stats, we see that women can get as strong as men. In a comparison of 63 strength gains, men averaged a strength gain of 30.87%, and women averaged a strength gain of 45.71%. It shows that muscle growth and strength gains are roughly equal for both men and women, with women experiencing a faster gain in strength.
So, ladies, the answer is YES. You can lift heavy and gain strength as much as men WITHOUT getting bulky! Obviously, the female frame is smaller than that of a male, so most women will remain smaller comparably than men.
The Science Behind Training
Men often do their routine workout splits like chest day or leg day and then take a week off to recover. That’s how they train. Though, they should train muscle groups more than once a week. Bodybuilding splits are not their only option for gaining strength and size. In contrast, women can train the same movement or muscle group three to four times per week since they recover more quickly than males. That is precisely why women gain strength more quickly than males do.
Another interesting fact is that women can lift a higher percentage of their one-repetition maximum (1RM) than men. Also, they can complete more reps of that percentage than men. So, if a male athlete can lift 90% of his 1RM in four reps, his female counterpart can lift the same percentage in five to six reps.
The Two M’s for Female Athletes
Another way women can train better is by regulating their training according to their menstrual cycle. Menstruation isn’t always a hurdle in an athlete’s life. Sometimes, it can be a blessing. And on workout days, it can be ‘Magic.’ The US Women’s National soccer team employs individual training sessions for their players, adjusting their training and diets according to their cycles.
Now, research on the advantages of different training methods for women at different stages of their cycle is gaining popularity. Increased training during the first half of the menstrual cycle has been found to produce superior strength gains than training during the second half. So, female athletes can also benefit from getting one or two extra workouts during their first half cycle and then adjusting it during the second half.
Women athletes training differently or the same as men has started a rife debate. However, this question is not a gender problem. The thing is, the physiological differences between men and women should be considered when designing training programs. Women can train the same movements as men after altering variables like intensity and frequency according to their body needs.
Women tend to have lower muscle mass and a higher percentage of body fat, which can affect strength and power capabilities. Hormonal differences also play a role in recovery and response to training. The menstrual cycle is the key player here. Intense workouts should be preferred during the first half cycle and minimal exercises during the later half. That being said, many fundamental training principles, such as progressive overload and specificity, apply to both men and women. Ultimately, a training program should be tailored to meet each athlete’s specific needs and goals, regardless of gender.
|Training in women soccer players: A systematic review on training load m… ObjectiveThe present systematic review aimed to provide an overview of training load (TL), along with their resp…|
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