I have coached a lot of women and I have coached men also. Yes, there are differences. I also firmly believe in giving everyone the best opportunity to become their strongest selves.
First, let's touch on the physical differences between men and women. The first and most impactful factor is that men have larger hearts to women this means that they can pump more blood and oxygen around their body and in turn build bigger muscles and produce more power on the bike. Women tend to have more body fat than their male counterparts, which does not lend itself to being more athletically proficient.
Males produce a lot more of the hormone testosterone which helps build muscle. Women do produce it naturally, but in smaller doses.
Also, pre-menopausal women have their monthly menstruation which takes away vital minerals and can leave side effects of lack of energy, bloating, cramps and mood swings.
How Women Can Excel
This all sounds quite negative towards the female athlete. However, we do have our own super powers. There is no reason why some women can't perform better than other men with the right training and mindset.
Women are a Lot More Emotionally Responsive
Women are incredibly more emotionally responsive than men, lending ourselves to become more reflective and mentally resilient. We will take the time to reflect on how we felt about the training and how to push harder. We are built to deal with the pain of childbirth and have the potential to put this into sport also. Having the right mindset can lead to better and more rapid success. Something that men may find a more unnatural process.
How I approach Training Women
I take a very personal approach every client and always give a space from reflection and reviewing of goals. It is very important to highlight all the successes as we can emotionally gravitate to our sense of failure. Generally women like to talk, at the end of the day, it can be a positive thing for personal development. In terms of menstruation I have never missed a training session due to being on my period, we can train though it, however at times it maybe a reason that we would not perform at our best. With all my clients I am looking to see how you are recovering to ensure the training is manageable, yet making progress towards your goals.
The Gap Closes with Age
Cycling is a great sport that can be taken up at any age and also practiced well into your older years. In fact many women take up cycling at retirement. I would recommend any women to practice in regular weight training, but more so as you age. The great news is that as we age there is evidence to suggest the the performance gap between men and women is smaller and especially with longer endurance events, which require a lot of mental toughness.
The Social Side of Cycling
Socially we gravitate to people that are similar to us. We can share our struggles and also bring out our competitive sides. Sometimes it just takes another woman to understand one!
What makes you feel strong to be a woman?