A subject that still baffles me to this day is the belief that men and women should train differently. I still have female customers who tell me that they want to look like Jessica Ennis-Hill or that they want to have a bikini body, however they just want to perform cardio because lifting weights will make them look like a man. This is complete rubbish. Although it was not the main part of her training, strength training in the gym would have been a part of Jessica Ennis-Hills preparation for the Heptahlon. For a woman to achieve a bikini she would need to combine strength training with a cardiovascular programme and a sensible nutrition plan. Look at the drastic difference in appearance of female bodybuilders and figure competitors. Both train with weights, both perform cardiovascular programmes. The difference is that the female bodybuilder is trying to get as muscular as possible, whereas the figure competitor is aiming for a bikini body. The female bodybuilder is also taking large amounts of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids, which speeds up recovery and allows the athlete to train harder.
In terms of male and female strength training the principles are the same. The muscles don’t know if they are on a male or female body. All they know is that they are being put under stress and they need to adapt and get stronger. The difference is that men naturally have higher levels of Testosterone then women. For a woman to look like a man she would need to take Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids at the physiological dosage of a man. Even with the help of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids the female athlete would need to train intensely enough with weights to make the body grow.
In summery women have nothing to worry about when it comes to strength training. It will enhance the appearance of the body and help you achieve your goals when combined with cardiovascular exercise then only performing cardio.