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Women recover faster from back squats

Summary of a study looking at fatigue and recovery patterns’ differences between men and women measured by squatting velocity.

Who

16 athletes with at least 6 months of resistance training experience, training at least 3 times per week, and with the ability to squat at least their body weight (UK).

Submaximal protocol
8 females, 8 males
5 sets of 5 reps at 80% of 1RM
at least 5 minutes rest between sets
Muscular failure protocol
7 females, 8 males
5 sets at 4-6RM load to muscle failure (start 7 reps at 85% of 1RM, if successful - upped by 2.5%, until failure within 4-6 reps)
at least 5 minutes rest between sets

Design

Experimental study with a randomized cross-over order of testing conditions (stratified by sex).

Outcome measures/tests

  • velocity in back squat measured at 80% of 1RM via PUSH band 2.0
  • differences between females and males

Main results

Women recover faster from back squats - infographic

  • no differences in total reps performed or last rep velocity were found between women and men in the submaximal protocol group. With muscular failure protocol, women did fewer reps, at higher intensities, and moved slower during the last rep than men, and slower than their velocity at 1RM testing. Men’s last rep did not differ from the velocity of their 1RM testing.
  • submaximal protocol: men were more fatigued than women at 5 minutes and 48 hours after the exercise but not after 72 hours.
  • muscular failure protocol: men were below the baseline at 5 minutes, but no differences between men and women after that time point.
  • women were more fatigued 5 minutes after the muscular fatigue protocol than after submaximal protocol.

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
When the squat volume was matched to maximal strength (submaximal protocol), men were on average more fatigued than women for at least the first 48 hours. When squatting to failure, there were no differences in recovery between men and women. Training (stress) required to produce fatigue in women is higher than in men.
For a parent
When squatting at 5x5 at 80% of 1RM, men were more fatigued and women recovered quicker. When squatting to failure, there were no differences in recovery between women and men.
For an athlete
When squatting at 5x5 at 80% of 1RM, men were more fatigued and women recovered quicker. When squatting to failure, there were no differences in recovery between women and men.

Original article

Amdi CH, Cleather DJ, Tallent J. Impact of Training Protocols on Lifting Velocity Recovery in Resistance Trained Males and Females. Sports. 2021 Nov;9(11):157.

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