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NSCA strength training guidelines for female athletes

The NSCA is a leading strength training organisation that has specific guidelines for various types of weights or resistance training. Here's what they recommend for female athletes....

It is the position of the NSCA that:

1. Proper strength and conditioning exercise programs may increase athletic performance, improve physiological function and reduce the risk of injuries. These effects are as beneficial to female athletes as they are to males.

2. Due to similar physiological responses, it appears that males and females should train for strength in the same basic way, employing similar methodologies, programs and types of exercises.

female weights training3. In the lower body, the relative strength (strength to lean body mass) of untrained women appears to be approximately equal to men.

4. Females can hypertrophy their muscles through resistance training, relatively the same as men, but not absolutely the same.

5. Female athletes appear to have the same fiber-type distribution as men, although the female fibers appear to be smaller in cross sectional area.

6. There is little research evidence to suggest the onset of a normal menstrual period affects athletic performance.

7. Female athletes that have gone through the cessation of their cycle have an increased likelihood of developing musculo-skeletal injuries. Athletes experiencing amenorrhea or other menstrual problems should consult their gynecologist.

8. Resistance training utilizing multi-joint and structural exercises is recommended to induce sufficient stresses on the skeletal system and to enhance calcium storage in the bone.

9. Little data exist regarding weight training and pregnancy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women may safely weight train during pregnancy, however common sense must be employed when selecting training intensities, and exercises.

female weights training10. Due to the influx of the hormone relaxin, that softens tendons and ligaments in preparation for delivery, caution is warranted in performing heavy multi-joint exercises (squats, deadlifts, snatches and cleans) after the first trimester. Also the potential for increased body temperature in pregnant women warrants the use of precautions in dress and environmental conditions during all types of exercise.

11. Resistance training has demonstrated favorable changes in body composition with minimal change in body weight.

12. Because females are, in general, weaker than males in their upper bodies, adult females should be urged to work especially hard on upper body strength training.


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