Strength Training For Female Athletes

Every athlete, coach and parent knows that strength training is a vital component of an athlete’s success.  Yet, even with that knowledge, most female athletes are hesitant to partake in a strength training program.  Strength training can have substantial benefits for female athletes due to role in physical development, injury prevention, as well as self-esteem and confidence.  

It is much more important for a female athlete to partake in a structured strength program at an early age than it is for a male athlete.  The primary reason is the early physical development of females in comparison to male athletes.  Females hit growth spurts earlier in life, when this happens their bones grow while the muscles, tendons, and ligaments lag behind.  This, in combination with anatomical structure differences, puts female athletes at a greater risk for injury.  The research shows that teenage girls are 8 times more likely to rupture their ACL’s than their male counterparts, in addition 91% of season ending injuries for female athletes are knee injuries.  

More than injuries alone, female athletes greatly benefit from the psychological aspect of strength training.  By implementing strength training and proper nutrition the potential for self-image issues decreases greatly.  Additionally, even with all of the positive research in regard to strength training and female athletes, the most common question remains, “If I lift weights, will I end up looking like a man?.”  The answer is, “Absolutely not!” Much of the difference in muscle mass between males and females is attributed to hormones, specifically, testosterone. On average, men produce ten times more testosterone than females. Not to mention, there is a difference in muscle mass distribution between men and women, especially in the upper body. 
At The Institute, we believe that female athletes should train with the same principals and approach as our male athletes.  This will increase their functional and sport specific strength, sprint speed, agility, and joint stability all while decreasing their potential for injury.  

With all of the positive benefits of strength training for female athletes there has been a slight shift in what is perceived to be feminine.  Strong female athletes are slowly becoming what is thought to be healthy and appropriate for females to strive for. This couldn’t be more correct!  

I hope you found this information useful.  As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Committed to your success, 
Rob Van Valkenburgh


Michele Bergh