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Male vs Female numbers: does it matter?

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  • #16
    As some posters have pointed out there is a difference in muscle composition and women do tend to do better with higher reps.
    As for things like chin-ups being done by a fit male and a fit female of equal weight due to bodyfat percentages the man will have more muscle for the body weight they are moving.
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    • #17
      Originally posted by Anivair View Post
      In a lot of fitness resources i see a delineation between what a man is expected to be capable of and what a woman is expected to be capable of (even in terms of body weight percentages on a lift, for example). This happens even in the Primal Blueprint by our own Mark Sisson. Often the male numbers on things like bodyweight pull ups or push ups are higher than female numbers. Pullups are the best example, since at the primal movement level the female numbers are less than half the male numbers.

      I know we live in a world where the reality is that women are generally less strong and often that woman are less interested in getting strong because they fear muscle bulk.

      I also know that we are smarter than that and that we recognize that women can be strong and lean and not bulky and, in fact, that it happens all the time.

      But what about those numbers? Is there any legit reason for a woman to be doing less reps on upper body work, when we're comparing BW exercises? Is she not already, on average, moving less weight? Are less reps required? Based on what I know, if anything the female anatomy is better at multiple reps than the male anatomy (and most of the differences really are cosmetic when you get past that).

      I'm designing a workout program for local use and I'm trying to set goals, but mark's numbers scare me. Am I going to be accused of being sexist? Am I being sexist? Or am I being unrealistic in assuming that women should be doing the same number of reps as men?

      Ladies? Do any of you strong grok chicks have experience here? I'd love some support.
      When I was in the military and we did our PT tests...for women we had to do 1 pullup to pass and 12 to max out the score (if you couldn't do a pullup as a woman you had to be able to do the flex arm hang for 1minute - I'd rater do the pullups), men had to do 15 to pass and 30 to max out. sit ups were the same (50 to pass 100 to max out), long jump was different (don't remember by how much), push ups women had to do 25 to pass 50 to max out points, men had to do 40 to pass and 65 to pass

      Why not have each individual you're training do a MAX rep session of each exercise - then you have a starting point. Say trainee A can do 5 standard pushups as her max. so when she does her pushups the next LHT session - you could have her shoot to get 5 standard pushups - then when she can't do anymore - have her drop to her knees and try for 2,3, 4, 5 more (what ever works) Thats what I've done...and I've found its helped me build strength quickly just using body weight.

      as for pull ups - now I can barely do 1...when 20 yrs ago I could bang out 25 w/o a problem or assistance and I'm not offended by Mark's LHT goals for women... establish the benchmark (MAX REPS) then trainees know if x# of pullups/pushups is out of my reach - but I want to get there...can you help me and then the plan builds/tailors around the skill set.
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      • #18
        Originally posted by adamm View Post
        Physiologically, men are different. I read, I believe it was Rippetoe's Practical Programming for Strength (don't remember), that women's max strength is generally much less than men's in proportion to body weight, but that they can do significantly more reps of 85% 1MR than a man and have less fatigue afterwards. I wish this didn't sound so vague, but I can't remember where I read that.
        It sounds more like something from The Poliquin Principles by Charles Poliquin:

        At any given percentage of their maximum for one rep (1RM), a woman will perform more reps than a man. Take the arm curl, for example. At 70% of their 1RM, a woman should be able to perform 17 reps, while a man should only be able to complete 12. Also, because there is an inverse relationship between sets and reps, this difference in neurological efficiency means women should do fever sets at a given intensity.
        When someone like Poliquin says that there's a neurological difference between men and women, and that it's not just a matter of how much lean body mass they each carry, then there's probably something to it.
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