Weight Training Advice for Female Gymnasts
More than ever, female athletes and coaches need to see the enormous benefits that weight training can bring, despite the socio-cultural barriers seen as inhibiting women from incorporating weight training in their sports activities. Aimed at answering issues pertaining to women’s weight training, this article serves to impart weight training advice, as well.
The study involved the participation of 139 men and 165 women athletes from four U.S. colleges who specialized in 11 kinds of sports, including soccer, athletics, lacrosse and basketball. They were asked to complete two questionnaires, namely:
1.) The Training Information Survey (TIS) – weight training
attitudes and practices, as well as other types of athletic
training and conditioning.
The main findings on the study were:
1.) Compared to men athletes, women athletes did not
perceive weight training to be important. In the same
manner, coaches did not consider weight training as more
important for females as compared to males.
Conversely, win orientated athletes felt that weight training was more suited to and more essential for males.
The main focus of the study related to the three issues on:
1.) the perception of weight training as a male activity;
The lukewarm attitude of coaches towards women participating in weight training led researchers to conclude that in-depth awareness and re-education were needed for coaches to support and promote weight training among female athletes.
The negative perception towards weight training remains prevalent among women athletes, who associate it with acquiring heavy musculature and excessive testosterone in body builders. As athletic mentors, the role of coaches is to help women athletes hurdle this cultural barrier. To enable this to happen, women athletes will also need to be aware of the importance and benefits that weight training holds for them. As the study has discovered, women athletes will only participate in weight training if they perceive it to be relevant to their sport. Evidence is therefore needed to support the research promoting weight training for women athletes.
BMD in Gymnasts and Runners
The BMD (bone mineral density) study above was a generalized comparison of fat and BMD levels in sports participative and non-sports participative women. In another study, a BMD contrast was conducted among female gymnasts and female cross-country runners. It was assessed that gymnasts had considerably higher bone mineral density levels compared to the runners. The premise put forward for this BMD disparity had to do with the advanced mechanical loading in gymnastics.
BMD is also affected by the different kinds of strength training undertaken. Two sets of women athletes were evaluated in this study wherein one group executed an overload of eccentric contractions performed at 125% Repetition Maximum (1RM), with three sets of six repetitions; and the second group did a series of sub maximal eccentric strength training at 75% of 1 RM, with three sets of 10. Results showed the latter proved to be more effective than the former in increasing BMD levels.
Researchers were highly astonished at the outcome as they were honing the premise that the higher the mechanical loading the more conducive it was to BMD improvement. The results may have been affected by the overload group who refrained from executing weight-bearing repetitions (e.g., squats) and concentrated instead on the exercise machines. The study suggests that an increase in BMD levels can be achieved without having to resort to extreme training, while continuing to perform as usual in sports practices and competition.
The result of all these studies proves that strength training:
1.) improves fitness and increase performance levels
Table 1: example of a two-month weight training cycle