We live quite rightly in an age of equality where we are slowly but surely tearing down many of the traditional barriers that exist between men and women. Despite this though, there are still some areas where differences do, and will continue to, exist and exercise is one such area.
Although a few women can achieve the upper body strength of some of even the fittest men, the vast majority of men have a natural physical advantage in this area. This advantage is reinforced by male aesthetic values and many men will favor their upper body when it comes to putting together an exercise routine.
Women, by contrast, will focus their attention more on exercises aimed at the legs and buttocks, possibly in part out of a desire to look more attractive. In this case women again have an advantage as a woman's pelvis is tilted at a slightly different angle from that of a man. This means, for example, that women can gain greater benefit from exercises such as squats by tilting their feet outward with their legs further apart, and do not need to squat as low.
Although women have additional layers of muscle in the stomach, on average, most women have less muscle mass than men and a greater percentage of body fat. This means that a well designed female exercise routine will focus less on bulking up and more on toning and achieving flexibility.
Men are also somewhat less flexible than women as a result of natural differences in their joints and also a difference in attitude. This difference in attitude often results in men tending to skimp on their warm-up routines, including essential stretching exercises.
Of course to some extent these differences are very much a matter of degree and some convergence is possible and both men and women can benefit by adapting some aspects of the routines of the opposite sex.
Women are more often open to trying out something new or different, such as yoga or pilates, which focus on an awareness of different parts of the body in order to maximize flexibility and raise overall fitness. Such practices focus very little on achieving strength, although increased strength often results a good yoga or pilates routine.
For example, a number of yoga routines focus on balance and balance is at its greatest when all the body's muscles are supporting the joints and skeleton correctly and dynamically. This is both the cause and consequence of improved strength in the muscles that help achieve that balance.
Pilates, especially, is a coordinated system aimed at achieving better strength and posture and breathing by using one to assist the other. Once again, it concentrates more on controlling muscle groups rather than building them up.
While men will undoubtedly continue to focus their attention on upper body strength and women to concentrating on flexibility and toning in their legs, both can undoubtedly benefit from taking a look over the fence and seeing how the other half lives.