While many of the principles of effective weight training are exactly the same for males as they are for females, there are a few differences that need to be pointed out. These differences are not of major concern and the fact is that many females could get great results doing the exact same workouts as their male counterparts. But since I brought it up, here they are:
• Females seem to achieve better results with a slightly higher rep range than males- While most males build muscle most effectively in the range of 5-10 reps, females often tend to do better while working in the range of 8-15 reps. Notice I didn’t say 15-50 reps. Remember, that stuff is useless nonsense. Heavy sets of 8-15 reps to failure or near failure are the way to go for most females looking to build muscle and burn fat.
• Females can tolerate a slightly higher training volume- Because they are usually weaker and have less overall muscle mass than males; females recover more easily and quickly and for this reason can tolerate a greater number of sets in their training. For males I usually recommend an average of 12-18 hard sets per workout but for females I prefer to stick with 16-28, sometimes even higher.
Just because they can tolerate the higher volume, does that mean that they actually need it? This is a question I have often pondered but have never really experimented with because of the mental and emotional aspect of training females (trainers and coaches pay attention). Most females have been conditioned to believe that a good workout consists of sweating their asses off and nearly needing to be carried out of the gym when it’s over. For this reason you simply can not tell a female to do ten hard sets 5-8 reps on squats, rows and presses with long rest periods and expect her to be happy about it. If I had a female do one of my workouts with me that consisted of two sets of squats, two sets of deadlifts, two sets of glute hams and a few shrugs, neck extensions and grip work she would hate it with a passion. It is mainly because of this that I always prescribe more sets for my female clients than I do my male clients.
• Females require less rest between sets than males- This is very similar to the rule about training volume. Because they are weaker, less muscular and recover faster, females don’t need to rest as long between sets. While most males will need at least 3-5 minutes between a brutally heavy ten-rep set of squats before they will be able to repeat the effort, most females can do so in just a minute or two; sometimes even less. If they are extremely weak, they may actually be able to repeat the effort in as little as 30 seconds. If you give them a workout that calls for the same rest periods that males use they will be bored to tears. This goes along with the mentality that females have been brainwashed into having; that an effective workout must leave them rolling in a pool of their own sweat and puke.
Take note of this if you are a trainer because prescribing shorter rest periods for your female clients can eliminate some uncomfortable situations for you. When a girl is not slightly winded from a set yet you decide to give her a 90 second rest period like you would a guy, you are going to be in for a lot of awkward silence while frantically searching for something to talk about after about the 15th set.