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STRENGTH TRAINING THE FEMALE ATHLETE

Position stands by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that CHILDREN can benefit from participation in a properly prescribed and supervised resistance training program.

What is a properly prescribed resistance training program for young females?

The following information will give you some guidelines.

First, let's identify the differences between males and females when considering muscles. There are 4 main muscular differences which directly affect training and sport.

# 1 Females demonstrate a lower Hamstring to Quadricep ratio. This means females typically have weaker hamstrings compared to males.

#2 Females demonstrate different muscle activation patterns compared to males. Females are typically Quadricep dominant athletes. This means females use their strong Quadriceps muscles and do not use their weak hamstrings. How does this affect Anterior Cruciate Knee injuries? The hamstring muscle group act to protect the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Quadricep muscle group places STRESS on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. Therefore, Quadricep dominant muscle work demonstrated by females places excessive stress on the ACL.

# 3 Females demonstrate strength weakness comparing one leg to the other. Studies show that 20-30% of female athletes have one leg significantly weaker than the other leg. If a female has a muscle weakness of 15% or greater from one leg to the other, they are 2.6 times more likely to suffer a leg injury.

#4 Females demonstrate a slower speed of muscle contraction. The typical female takes 3 tenths of a second longer to generate MAXIMUM contraction of the hamstrings. This may seem insignificant, however realize that a sprinter spends less than a tenth of a second balancing on one foot before pushing off and landing on the other foot. If the hamstrings do not contract fast enough the Anterior Cruciate Ligament may be in jeopardy.

 

GCJ    What Does Research Say?

In 1996, Huston and Wojtys reported that female athletes tend to fire their quadriceps in response to anterior tibial translation, which can overload the ACL when the knee is at or near extension (men's hamstrings fire instead).

 

 

Using these 4 differences lets formulate a plan! The plan must begin emphasizing FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH TRAINING principles.

Functional strength training differs from traditional strength training.

Functional strength training attempts to closely mimic the sport or activity the athlete is involved. Functional strength training emphasizes training movement patterns, unlike traditional strength training which emphasizes individual muscles.

Here is an example:

 

 

(knee extension machine picture here) (hamstring curl machine picture here)

 

 

Traditional Quadricep Strengthening Traditional Hamstring

on the Knee Extension Machine. Strengthening on the

Hamstring Curl Machine.

 

 

 

 

These same two muscles, along with the core and many other lower leg muscles can be trained using a FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH TRAINING exercise, the

2 - LEG SQUAT:

(2 leg squat picture here)

 

 

 

 

 

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