Anything he can do –women can do it (better)
Modern society focuses upon the differences between men and women more than the similarities. In many circumstances this makes sense. However, in some arenas - such as fitness training - it can create a gulf between the two sexes. The goal of fitness training - in a general sense - is the same for men and women: an improvement in health and fitness.
Consider the anatomy, physiology and biology of the male and the female human being. It is quite apparent that we are very similar indeed. Of course there are the glaringly obvious differences like our reproductive systems but at a base level we are almost the same. We have the same bones, the same muscles and the same neural pathways. Our endocrine (to a certain extent), digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems to name a few have the same functionality regardless of our gender.
Our bodies are capable of tremendous feats yet women tend not to aim for physical prowess like their male counterparts. It is unfortunate that popular media and too many trainers fall into the trap of treating men and women vastly differently when writing training programs and delivering coaching.
Case in point is the training regimen of Gwyneth Paltrow. Her trainer does not let her lift heavy weights. It is reported (in those dodgy tabloid magazines) that she is restricted to weights no greater than 5lb (that's less than 3kg). Why? Trainer doesn't want Gwyneth to put on too much muscle. The result? Gwyneth has developed osteoporosis. Now, to be fair, her training regimen is not the only factor in the development of such an illness but it is certainly a glaringly obvious area in which proper resistance training could have lessened the chances of developing such a health problem. There is also little doubt that her nutritional program is deficient in many key areas (another trainer error). Were Gwyneth a man, she would have been prescribed heavy loads and lots of protein therefore effectively removing any chance of a problem like osteoporosis.
As a fitness trainer, I routinely have to counsel women about weight training. I estimate that four out of every five women think that lifting weights will make them as big as Arnie. Ladies, it's just not going to happen. It takes genetics, the consumption of a lot of food, supplementation (probably illegal) and good luck to get big. It also helps if you're a man (it's a hormone thing). That said, you can get big if you really want to. You - as a woman - can do whatever a man can do in the gym.
For too long women's fitness
has been second to men's. Women have hidden away in single gender facilities or have attended low-impact classes when all the time they could have been training as hard if not harder than men and therefore reaping the substantial rewards. Not every woman wants to train like Cathy Freeman, however it is important to understand that the walk in the park kind of workout isn't going to get you anywhere. Sure, it keeps you moving but what you really need is some real resistance in order to create positive adaptation in your body.
The popular media has a lot to answer for. Those airbrushed fakes you see on magazine covers are not indicative of what a healthy woman is or should aspire to be. The diets you read about in such publications are almost without exception misleading and dangerous. Often, the workouts prescribed are plain rubbish. The health and fitness advice from these publishers is more about what a single celebrity does this week rather than what can and will work for most women (and we've already noted what happened to one such celebrity).
If you want results from your health and fitness program, you need to turn everything on its head. The truth is that success requires hard work and dedication. This fact is true of exercise, diet, career development and personal relationships.
I often see women afraid to push their limits during a workout. I often see women give up when they could go further. I often see women shy away from weights and high intensity effort. To repeat, there is nothing that a man can do in the gym, on the field, in the ring or anywhere else that a woman can't do too.
It's a matter of changing the way you perceive exercise and physical challenges. The harder you work, the more amazing your results will be. The better your results, the more you want to train. It's a positively reinforcing cycle.
If you want to change your workouts for the better, here is my top recommendation: up the intensity. Focus intently on your goal. Make every workout your best workout yet (this doesn't mean try to kill yourself every time, each day is different). Get in and out of the gym in under an hour. Sweat. Breathe hard. Find your physical limit and push right through it. Intensity equals results.
Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to; your body will follow.
And, please, find a good coach.