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Medicina dello Sport 2013 March;66(1):1-27


language: English, Italian

Female strength training: specific characteristics of gender, effect of age and types of training

Manno R.

Institute of Medicine and Sport Sciences, Coni Servizi, Rome, Italy


The features of female muscle strength were analyzed and compared to males. Relevant studies on female strength started in 1970, that since social habits and life expectancy have changed greatly. Women’s muscle strength is 35-40% lower than men’s. If strength is divided by body mass or by estimated lean body mass the differences within sex is quite null and there are no differences in muscle Cross Sectional Area (CSA). Females have a lower ability to recruit promptly muscle strength: for achieving the same percentage of maximum strengh (Rate of Force Development - RFD) females take 80% more time than males. The slower RFD can facilitate knee’s injuries during adolescent hood. In teenager female Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are 6-8 times more frequent than in males. The leg’s flexors-extensor strength unbalance, that increase during female’s adolescent hood is another risk factor leading to a temporary worse joint laxity caused by hormonal variations. A good protocol for knee injuries prevention has been developed trough improving landing and squat skills, strength training. The consequent reduction of flexors and extensor unbalance diminish the risk differences within sex. The hypertrophic effect of strength training in female is correlated with Testosterone levels during rest. The testosterone level in female is, in general, ten times lower than men’s level, but muscle hypertrophy after long term strength training is quite similar at all ages. Strength training and vibration training can counteract menopause side effects as osteoporosis and improve bone density. Strength training combined with hormonal therapy, can improve muscle mass and reduce fat mass. In conclusion, strength training in female is a good method for improving performance, grow stronger, prevent injuries and aging healthier.

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