The Importance of Strength Training for Female Athletes

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High Performance programs have been around for years, but if you are not part of an Elite Program (few opportunities), access to specific high performance training isn’t always easy to find, especially at grassroots.

The expectation of our female athletes in semi to elite sport is that for female athletes to become a top tier sport worthy of viewing and engagement, skill is required.

But, if we strip away all of the factors of sporting performance, what gives us the best opportunity to perform at our best, is learning how to properly use our body, and enhance attributes that will help us perform better come competition.

Women have unfortunately had a lack of consistency, with many old school coaches that have not trained female athletes prioritising high performance last.

Female Strength Training

How can we expect our athletes to become faster, stronger and better conditioned to meet game demands week in week out, if we are placing high performance last?

As the rate of participation in women’s sport grows stronger, so should the demand for professionalism amongst the athletic performance staff.

Females are not small men!

So, why is it so important for female athletes to do Strength Training

Well the statistics are there for all to see, females are 3.6% more likely to be injured in their lower limbs for example ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), Hamstrings, and ankles if they do not have a consistent training program.

These statistics are huge, and the training age (number of years gym training/sport) is still not high enough for it to be effective in reducing injuries across each age group.

Benefits of Strength Training

There are many benefits to females strength training, but lets start with a few of the big ones:

Improves Joint Awareness

Compared to males, females have different physiological structures. A big example is the angle in which our hip is placed in relation to our ankle. In a male it is relatively a straight line, however in females with a wider pelvis (to support pregnancy) our angle is more of a diagonal line.

This can impact the way our body reacts to landing, our balance control and postural alignment. The areas that we can control are:

  1. Correcting Posture
  2. Increasing Control During Balance Movement Patterns
  3. Improve Technique During Complex Movement Patterns

Increased Muscle Hypertrophy

Being strong as a female athlete has socially been unaccepted for quite a long time. We often hear “I don’t want to look big” or “I just do Cardio”.

Education on the importance of this and how it affects performance is key to change.

By increasing training age in young adolescent females, the more likely they will not be behind when they reach elite junior and senior programs.

Looking at Elite females and their physical attributes, they are training to be at their best during season. When we compare Elite and Semi Elite there is an obvious difference in their readiness to compete at such a high level.

If we increase strength, then so will our speed and power improve. Which in most sporting codes the ability to repetitively perform our best requires these attributes.

Starting out movement patterns can be challenging, and society has taught us that women are not as strong as men. We have different hormones, and different physiological factors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be strong.

Female Strength Training

Bone Density  

Our menstrual cycle plays an important role within females’ hormones. Menstrual cycle disruptions, an increase in training volume, and sometimes fatigue starts to become normal.

Low Iron could become an issue and increase the risk of having low bone density. Strength training has shown to be a supportive factor in keeping our bone density healthy. Issues that can arise are increased risk of bone stress, fractures, and this could lead to Osteoporosis.

Boosts Metabolism

By consistent strength training females will increase their lean muscle mass which results in a happy and healthier metabolism. Meaning that energy burned will continue throughout the day.

By increasing our lean muscle mass, it helps improve our body composition. And to do this we need to be completing strength training 2-3 times a week (pre-season, in season and post-season), not just doing cardio.

We need to remember that 1kg of fat and 1kg of muscle weighs the exact same, so learning to not worry about our scale numbers is super important. This also can be challenging for a female athlete as being slim is a part of social society.

So, encouraging and educating athletes on why it is important for their buy in, and that for each sport / position comes a different goal and body to train based on performance goals.

Mental Health

Most females that are committed to strength training, will feel empowered, strong and confident. They will walk away knowing that they can achieve anything if their mind is set to it. Sleep health and anxiety common in both sexes can be affected in a positive way.

During our menstrual cycle when a female athlete may be feeling down and out, training at a lower volume and intensity is beneficial in increasing endorphins and helping relieve any PMS symptoms. By encouraging our athletes to still train is an important message that we can give, instead of just sitting out and not participating.

To increase equality and progression in women’s sport, we must dig deeper into the progression of pathway development for the female athlete. If we can alter the training age and put in as much effort as we do for rehabilitation of any post injuries, we will set these girls lift up for their elite playing years.

Want To Know More

If you would like to know more or you’re a female athlete looking for a performance coach and environment to train in, please contact our Strength & Conditioning Coach Shona O’Connell-Shea to book in a session.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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