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CHEK Points

for Fitness Professionals

Considerations for Female Clients


Equal but not the Same injury. Keep in mind, however, that just as women
The female body—particularly at joint structures such are anatomically or physiologically different from
as the wrist, shoulder, knee and ankle—is smaller. men, there is a large degree of variation among
And women are typically more energy efficient than women as well.
men are, with men being stronger when calculated Flexibility First
by absolute strength. A woman’s energy efficiency The first step in any exercise program is to restore
is likely to be a physiological necessity when you flexibility to muscles that are restricting or altering
consider the female body is designed to carry a de- joint motion. As a woman’s flexibility improves, she
veloping fetus for nine months in what would have should choose exercises that improve functional
been unpredictable times over stability, particularly in the core/
the span of human develop- pelvis region, which is
ment. In fact, Australian re- imperative to injury prevention
searcher Robbie Parker re- in all sports. The most
ported that females use approxi- important muscle for a woman
mately 40% less energy than to restore and maintain optimal
men when walking the same dis- levels of function is the
tance. transversus abdominis (TVA).
The females greater “Q” angle The TVA, through its
has been associated with their relationship with the
increased prevalence of non- thorasiclumbar fascia, is
contact ACL injuries. Because intimate with the breathing
of an increased “Q” angle and apparatus, the paraspinal and
wider pelvis, the female deep stabilizer muscles of the
exerciser or athlete suffers spine, the pelvic floor, the
medial rotational instability of the hamstrings, and the peroneal
lower extremity more frequently muscles of the lower leg and
than males. The best cure is foot.
functional exercise with specific Commonly associated with
attention being given to core and older, sedentary women,
hip stabilizers. Exercises incontinence is actually a
recruiting the hip extensor common complaint among
mechanism in concert with good core stabilization exercising women. Nygaard et al. Found that 47%
aid females both aesthetically and functionally. of exercising females at an average age of 38.5
Surgeons also note that in females there is less space years suffered from incontinence. By exercising the
in the condylar notch through which the ACL passes. TVA, the exerciser often improves both incontinence
When the condylar notch is small, the ACL is and stability of the spine, pelvis and legs - a double
predisposed to unwanted friction, particularly if the benefit! This is because the TVA is neurologically
legs are not functionally stable. linked to the muscles of the pelvic floor and the deep
stabilizer muscles of the back. This simple procedure
The Keys to a Stronger Body
is described in Paul Chek’s Equal, but not the Same
These differences should not be viewed as risk of
correspondence course.
Free-weights for a Strong, Functional Body injury when exposed to plyometric exercises used
Another important step toward improving function for male athletes of the same training age (Scientific
in the female body is to minimize the use of Physical Therapy). In fact, most sports are won and
machines. Machines are bolted to the floor, have a lost through the performance of “power movements”.
guided resistance and most often require exercises Inadequate stability or strength results in an
be performed from a seated position. Such a training increased risk for injury.
environment does not develop the stabilizer or
postural mechanisms of the body, leaving the door Step by Step
wide open for injury. This is a frequent occurrence The female athlete wanting the most from her body,
even after achieving what would appear to be high both functionally and aesthetically will reap
levels of fitness using a machine based program. significant benefits from restoring function to the
To develop functional stability and strength, begin TVA, which is frequently dysfunctional after
all workouts with the free weight or free-body childbearing, cesarean section or hysterectomy.
exercise that requires the use of the greatest number 1. Increase flexibility by setting aside time each
of muscles and joints, such as lunges or standing day to stretch.
dumbbell presses. Then, if your conditioning level 2. Exercises done with a stability ball are ideal
is high, choose another similar, but slightly less for increasing core stability and strength. Perform
challenging free-weight exercise. Finally, progress these and free-weight exercises at the beginning of
to machine training for an additional two to four an exercise program and move on to machine
exercises. exercises only when the nervous system is fatigued
Women need not be concerned that adding free from the more complex exercises.
weight exercises to their program will result in large 3. After a course of eight to 16 weeks of progressive
muscles. Females naturally have higher levels of stability and strength-training exercises, power-
estrogen and much lower levels of the muscle- training exercises such as plyometrics should be
building hormone, testosterone than males. Female added. Always remembering that females need
body builders spend between three and five hours gender specific doses of eccentric exercises.
a day in gym trying to achieve the muscle As an athletic trainer, it is important to step
development other women fear. In fact, putting back and assess your female clients needs from the
muscle mass on a female is so challenging that many beginning. Every athlete has different training needs
female body builders turn to anabolic steroids for and should never be put on a “canned” athletic
assistance. training program. Detailed assessment tools and
programming information for the female athlete can
A successful exercise program must include the be found in Paul Chek’s Equal, but not the same
following elements, each of which builds upon correspondence course.
the other:
References:
Nygaard, I et al. (1990). Exercise and Incontinence.
• Flexibility Obstet Gynecol, 75:848:851.
• Stability Parker, R. (1998). Fat Loss in Pre-menopausal Women
• Strength (lecture handout).
• Power Network New Zealand National Health and Fitness
Convention Auckland, New Zealand. June, 1998.
Powering Up Paul Chek is an internationally recognized lecturer
Power or high-speed exercises should only be and consultant in the fields of corrective and
performed after optimal flexibility to all major working performance exercise. He has served as a consultant
joints has been restored, and adequate levels of to many elite sports teams internationally, including
functional stability and strength have been achieved. the Chicago Bulls. For more information on the
Whenever the amplitude or velocity of an exercise C.H.E.K Institute call 1-800-552-8789 or int’l (760) 632-
is increased, the forces through the joints, muscles 6360 for your free catalog or visit the website at
and connective tissues significantly increase. Athletic www.chekinstitute.com.
trainers should also be aware that females are
significantly weaker than males and are prone to