Olympic Weightlifting for Women
Women are strong AF. Not only do they shatter glass ceilings and take affirmative action to get things done, they simply slay kilos on the platform like ginger snaps being gobbled up over the holidays. We’ve seen women at Garage Strength squat nearly triple body weight, deadlift a ton and perform feats of athleticism the gods of old would be jealous of.
Women are also the most important factor behind the proliferation of the human race. Their bodies are more advanced and capable of way more than any man could ever do. People need to face it: women can do just about everything and anything (and then some).
Even with society paying women $0.81 cents to every dollar paid to a man (we won’t get into how wrong this is), somehow women rise up, do their thing and walk like they got oil wells pumping in their living room.
Here at Garage Strength, our women lifters are legit. Like legit, legit. Like competing with the best in the country. Actually, the women lifters at Garage Strength are competing with the best in the world. They’re that good, that talented and that willing to put in the work, day in and day out, week after week, for years.
As much as we’re about equality, we’re also firm believers in equity. Women aren’t men. Women menstrate. Men don’t. Obvious, we know, but you’d be surprised. And if you didn’t know, there are different protocols to training women compared to training men.
Here are four tips we think you need to know for training women in weightlifting!
4. Women are more resistant to fatigue
Women tend to have larger type-1 muscle fibers. According to Khan Academy, all your learners reading out there, type-1 muscle fibers, or slow twitch fibers, are skeletal muscle fibers that are more efficient over long periods of time. They are mainly used for postural maintenance (such as sitting upright at a desk at school), or endurance exercises (like marathon running). Having larger type-1 muscle fibers allows women to handle metabolic stress more effectively than men can. In turn, this means women are more resistant to fatigue and perform better, with more consistency, over the grind that is training.
How does this greater resistance to fatigue translate into training olympic weightlifting and strength training?
It means that women can take shorter rest periods between efforts. It means they can take less rest when dealing with waves. More specifically regarding waves, women can do a triple in the snatch, rest a minute, then do a double, rest a minute and ten seconds, do a single, and then rest a minute and a half and repeat it again with incredible effectiveness compared to a male weightlifting athlete. It also means that women are able to do more technical work and can handle changing weights over and over again.
Estrogen is a powerful hormone. Estrogen has gotten some bad press. The bad press came about from men in sports performance arenas (looking at you home-run hitting baseball players in the late 90s) taking anabolic steroids, in turn, causing a rise in the male user’s estrogen levels. For a while, the medical community was informing everybody that estrogen was horrible for men. Years later we are learning and realizing that isn’t the case.
Estrogen is anti-catabolic. Meaning it protects muscle-mass in the body from being broken down. In other words, it helps with maintaining all those hard won gainz. So in this regard, estrogen is really important in developing lean muscle mass and is extremely important in preventing protein breakdown.
This is where estrogen factors big for women. Women can handle more volume because of their higher level of estrogen. In addition, because of the higher levels of estrogen, women’s muscle repair is more effective and, on top of that, it prevents protein breakdown while in the midst of training.
2. Slower Tempos
Women respond well to explosive work, but they respond very, very well to slower tempos. Remember, women have higher levels of estrogen which means, this is review, they can handle the muscle-protein breakdown more effectively and, in turn, are more resistant to fatigue. Because they are more resistant to fatigue, women handle slower tempos more effectively.
What does that mean?
In the realm of Olympic weightlifting women will respond well to slower eccentrics on different variations of squats. Women will respond well to pauses in squats. They’ll respond well to slower eccentrics in various hang snatches, high or low. Women will also respond well to positional work with pauses--at the knee, below the knee, mid shin, above the knee. Ultimately this leads to women having better movement from their great response to the slower tempos.
And face it. Women have better technique than men.
Think about it. Women learn the positions of the movement more effectively because they can handle the volume to improve their technique and spend more time in the correct positions.
1. Better recovery
Women recover better from session to session. Dr. Larry Judge has researched and published a study that gives science to this claim. What does this mean? It means that women can handle doing two sessions in one day. Heck, women can potentially even handle three training sessions in one day if they want to be an olympian in the sport of weightlifting.
In the non-olympic caliber athlete world, based off the works of Dr. Larry Judge, women who want to work out five to six days a week can handle the volume effectively. Women recover well from day one to day to day three. The stress and the fatigue just doesn’t accumulate as high for women as it does for men--that’s because women are WAY tougher.
Still, it is important to factor in a woman’s individual menstruation cycle and recognize the impact the cycle has on each specific athlete.
We know that women are more resistant to fatigue, that estrogen helps prevent protein break down so women recover better from session to session and that they respond very, very well to slower tempos.
From a coach’s perspective, it is incredibly enjoyable to train and coach women. They are receptive to ideas and are open to improving technique on a regular basis. Coupled with their superior ability to handle high levels of volume and time under tension, women are able to respond wonderfully to technical work.
And what coach doesn’t like coaching technique?
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.