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Training Males and Females: Similar, but Different

Written on August 11, 2009 at 8:23 pm, by Eric Cressey

Males and Females: Similar, but Different

During my weekly Pubmed scan, I came across this study the other day:

The Core and Hip in Soccer Athletes Compared by Gender

It seemed like a good fit for this week’s newsletter for a few reasons.

First, we always hear that men and women should train exactly the same.  While there are certainly a lot of similarities between how I personally approach the training of men and women, as I noted in a previous newsletter, there are also a lot of important considerations specific to females.  This study highlights on such consideration: increased hip internal rotation as compared with their male counterparts.

Ask anyone who has ever trained male soccer or hockey players or powerlifters, and if they know anything about assessment, they’ll tell you that a hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD) is a huge problem.  It can lead to knee, hip, or lower back pain and have a markedly negative impact on movement.  Improving length of the hip external rotators – with flexibility drills like the knee-to-knee stretch – is of paramount importance.


Well, those exact same drills would actually increase the typical female’s injury risk.  Excessive hip internal rotation and knee valgus are just a few of the many reasons (also including the hip abductor and core control weaknesses outlined in this study) that most females have more anterior cruciate ligament injuries than males.


The lesson could end there – but it won’t. Why?

I had a female distance runner in for an evaluation on Saturday, and she had very poor hip internal rotation.  A flexibility drill that would be inappropriate for the female “masses” is a great fit for her.  Cases like this make it very clear that it’s important to assess and not just assume.

This is why I’m so excited about the impending release of our new product, which outlines a series of self-assessments and corrective exercises one can use to pinpoint these issues and address them in a targeted fashion.  Keep an eye out for an announcement on its release in the weeks to come.

Feedback on Maximum Strength

“This program took me to the next level of performance with my lifting. After using a variety of programs focusing on fat-loss and hypertrophy and having limited results from them it was great to see such solid increases in strength and physique changes from the program.  In addition, the program focus on dynamic flexibility and foam rolling has resulted in an injury free training cycle and major flexibility and posture improvements.  I would highly recommend this program and book to anyone wanting to make real progress with strength, performance and body composition.”

Dan Hibbert – Calgary, Alberta

Increased body weight by 14 pounds, broad jump by seven inches, box squat by 80 pounds, bench press by 30 pounds, deadlift by 70 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 27.5 pounds.


Check out Maximum Strength for yourself!

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Have a great week!


7 Responses to “Training Males and Females: Similar, but Different”

  1. Rick Kaselj Says:


    Great comment about the IR in men and women.

    Rick Kaselj

  2. Isaac Ho Says:

    Eric, I’ve been waiting for this product for forever…where is it? *freaks out*
    I know it’ll be awesome! And you’ll have some kind of amazing discount code for your loyalnewsletter subscribers….

  3. Travis Hansen Says:

    Great article man! You brought up a very simple and extremely important point in regards to HIRD. Why do you think it is that so many males lack this range of motion in their hips? Lastly, I understand the Q-angle well, but I can never find it stated why this has to happen. I have concluded and correct me if I am wrong, that its just a path of least resistance for women, and trying to have them attempt to abduct their femur to where it is directly under the hip is both uncomfortable and unnatural?

  4. Eirik Sandvik Says:

    Looking forward to the product!

  5. Christian Fox Says:

    Excited for the new product! Looking forward to learning a few new assessments.

  6. Rick Says:

    Thanks for the informative article. It’s also nice to see the caution to avoid assumptions and continue to assess. I read the abstract from the female soccer article and I am confused by the statement that there is an overall shift towards hip IR in females. Does this mean that they (females) seem to be “starting” in a position of hip IR and that the researchers’ conclusion is based on the females “maxing out” hip IR with less degrees of motion than male counterparts? If that is correct then couldn’t the “flare” of the innominate cause the “deficit” or contact of the neck of the femur with the acetabulum? Also, could the strength deficit in the abductors also be due to a (male v. female) relative difference in the length-tension relationship based on the the different geometry of the pelvis between genders? I agree that an accurate assessment is crucial and that it is speculative to base all training program decisions on the findings of a single study.

  7. Mary Says:

    Thanks for setting things straight. Glad I stopped doing that stretch! I already have knee/hip pain that I am trying to get over. Look forward to your new product aince I am really into corrective work these days.

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