By Mary Chase
Men, Women, And The Battle Of The Bulge
This past weekend I was amongst friends discussing how I needed to eat even healthier to stop what seems like the inevitable aging and weight gain process. I realized I was met with silence,because the friends I was talking with were male. They were mystified about the problems to which I complained because they aren’t female. So it got me to thinking about the differences between men, women, and their waistlines.
Unfair as it may be, the first major difference between men and women is that they have different target body fat percentages. Men can have a body fat between fourteen to twenty four percent in order to be fit or average. For that same category we should have somewhere between twenty-one and thirty one percent body fat. Why do women “need” more body fat? The first and most obvious answer is our bodies are set up for child bearing which needs the extra body fat. What woman hasn’t heard of the childbearing hips?
Additionally, men are usually larger in size and thus leaner, so they have lower body fat. Because of the larger leaner size of men, they can also consume more calories than women and keep a lower body percentage. Men also bear much more testosterone than their female counterparts. The testosterone hormone is what promotes men’s muscles to “bulk” up. Women bear testosterone, but at a much smaller amount, which is why unlike what MANY females think, we will not get too bulky with weight training.
So now that I’ve highlighted all the differences between men and women and their body fat, what can we do about it? The first universal thing every person, male or female should do, is strength train. The benefits of weight bearing exercises are numerous. Most notably it burns more fat than its counterpart, cardiovascular exercise. Yes that is correct, you will burn more fat while lifting weights than when engaging in cardiovascular exercise. For women, weight bearing exercise is a great way to prevent osteoporosis and build essential body and muscle mass that will help your body stay strong for a long time to come.
If you are looking to lengthen your muscle mass in order to appear leaner, the key to muscle mass is more reps of the exercise with less weight. On the flip side if you would like to “bulk up,” you would want to lift heavier weights with less reps. This is true no matter what your gender. Ladies please remember you have a significantly less amount of testosterone in your body chemistry, so don’t worry about turning into Arnold Schwarzenegger with two to three times a week of strength training.
The last difference between men and women’s body fat is where it lands on our bodies. Men tend to carry body fat in their abdomen. This is very dangerous because it gives them a much higher risk of heart diseas. Think about it; your heart has to work harder to carry that extra belly fat around. Women tend to carry their body fat in a pear like shape: in the glutes, thighs, and abdomen. Either sex, and our entire country for that matter should be concerned about our staggering increasing body fat percentages, no matter where it is on your body. So with that in mind, go forth and increase that muscle mass and get that body fat percentage right where it should be.