The advantage of being a woman in CrossFit
The RX weights for women in competitive CrossFit are about 30% lower than the one from the men´s category. If you think about man and woman in sports, especially in weight training, all that comes to your mind are the advantages men have - and it is mostly caused by a lower estrogen and higher testosteron level. More muscle mass, lesser body fat, better bodyweight-strength ratio. BUT here is the But: Also the women´s physique comes with some advantages that are useful especially in CrossFit. Let´s focus on the bright sides of being a lady, Ladies!
1. More Type-1-Muscle Fibers - more endurance
Muscle fibers can be classified into Type I and Type II (there are mixed forms as well but let´s ignore that fact), also known as slow-twitching (Type I) and fast-twitching (Type II) muscle fibers. Women normally have a higher percentage of Type I fibers that are very proficient in generating the energy source ATP from oxigen over long periods. A perfect constitution for long efforts and endurance based training!
2. Better at percentages
When comparing the 1RM of a male CrossFitter with the 1RM of a female one at the same performance level, of course the man will have a higher absolut number in any exercise may it be a Squat, Clean or Strict Press. But if both athletes are asked to do a WOD at let´s say 80% of their maxes, the weight will feel much lighter to the woman than to the man and she will most likely - let´s assume their conditioning is kind of the same - be faster than the male CrossFitter. Woman are better on percentages and can handle more volume - it´s a fact! :-)
3. Estrogen causes better flexibility
The higher level of estrogen in the female body has not only disadvantages. It is also a cause of better flexibility than the regular man has, especially in the hip and arm and shoulder area. The mobility most women have by nature most men can only achieve by putting in extra work.
4. More benefit from neuromuscular adaption
High estrogen means also a limited ability to gain muscles. But no worries, that doesn´t mean you are hitting the plateau in no time! While for a male athlete, the increase of muscle mass is the most important component of progress, for the female one the importance decreases with increasing training experience. Instead, the neuromuscular adaption gets more and more vital.
This means i.e. an increase in the amount of nerve ends in the muscles, a faster and more efficient signal transfer between the brain and the muscles. In simple words. So you can just move more weights by improving your mind-muscle connection. The neuromuscular adaption has some benefits over muscle gain: It is independ from what you eat and it can´t be lost that easily.
5. Glute and Leg dominant
The female body tends to center its strength in the quat and glute area. That not only looks nice in jeans - it is also verrrrrry beneficial for CrossFit, a Squat and Lift dominant sport!