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It's certain that there is a fairly clear divide at your local fitness center between where most of the men workout and where the women workout.
A gym with both male and female clientele always shows its colours when women are too nervous to head over to areas saturated with guys. Does this reflect the abilities of women? The difference between how men and women should workout? Absolutely not!
Women with Manly bodies
The primary reason why women are afraid of taping into the same workouts as men is the fear of developing manly bodies. This fear was brought about in the 90's when women began to join in on bodybuilding competitions. In bodybuilding, the objective of the sport is to be judged on how muscle size and definition, created by any means possible.
As such, lifting weights in a particular way, with just the right parameters of sets, reps and frequency, may result in larger muscles. On the other hand, if larger, more defined muscles is not the objective, then a different set of parameters is followed.
Bodybuilding is not the Norm...
While it may seem as though everyone who lifts weights gets bigger, this is not the norm. In fact, women who lift weights as a part of a healthy program, or who follow the same type of program that their male counterpart follows, are some of the leanest women you'll find at the gym. Lifting weights burns a huge number of calories, improves strength, and is the most effective way to change body composition.
A part of what separates the sexes physically is the hormone production and balance. Building muscles is a role of testosterone, which exists in large quantities in men, and lesser quantities in women. Without this hormone, building muscle mass becomes very difficult. Female bodybuilders (as well as the men) are known to use hormone supplements as a means of developing their desired bodies.
All this to say that women and men can train in the exact same way and women will not develop in the same way or at the same rate as men. To put it generally, women are physiologically incapable of this, even if they train with a bodybuilding program.
Whether your goal is to lose fat, get into better cardiovascular shape, prevent injury or illness, improve self-confidence, improve strength, or improve flexibility, women's and men's programs can be completely, 100% the same. The only exception is that women may have to chose a lighter weight, and men may have to spend more time stretching.