Lifting weight : How much men vs women?
It is a well-known fact that men are generally stronger than the average woman. We generally deduce that the lifting weight will be different for each of them.
I am often asked how this difference is significant. There is no easy answer as many factors can influence the results. Still, there are standards* with regards to the evaluation of one’s physical strength based on the «lifting weight to body weight » ratio. The « lifting weight » being the maximum weight raised in a single lift (a one-rep max).
Lifting weight in percentage
For example purposes, let’s use a man and a woman, both sedentary, 30 years of age and weighing 155 lbs. According to the standards in this category*, when doing the bench press exercise, the woman should lift approximately 90 lbs. On the other side, the man should lift approximately 150 lbs. For this upper body exercise, there is a 60% difference between the man and the woman. With a lower body exercise such as the leg press, the woman should lift approximately 205 lbs and the man approximately 280 lb. In this instance, the woman can lift 73% of the man’s one-rep max. It is important to state that the standards vary according to sex, age group and fitness level of the individual.
A good evaluation is needed
Now, back to our initial question, regardless of the sex, it is essential to perform a strength evaluation exam to establish the correct weight to use in order to achieve desired results. This sort of test must be conducted under the supervision of a qualified personal trainer. The personnal trainer can then evaluate with his client the right weights to use according to the exercises chosen. The prescribed weights should cause noticeable fatigue at the end of each set for muscle hypertrophy (muscle mass).
Ladies, don’t underestimate yourselves!
In conclusion ladies, despite the strength differences that exist between men an women, you should always use the maximum weight possible according to the number of reps to be completed without having to worry about developing a « Mr. Muscle » type physique.
In closing, here’s a little advice, stop underestimating yourself! You’re stronger than you think. Take the time to have your physical strength assessed so that you may use the correct weight during your workouts and therefore maximize your full potential.
*NSCA’s Essentials of strength training and conditioning, 2000.
*Physiological Assessment of Human Fitness, 2006.