Recovery guidelines are based on understanding how the human body works and what it needs to recover from workouts. These guidelines help streamline and optimize exercising, so they’re crucial to understand and implement in your exercise routine.

However, a major oversight of recovery recommendations is how the guidelines for women and men are basically the same. Although male and female physiology is distinctly different, recovery guidelines don’t consider this. However, in order to get the most out of recovery, it’s crucial to tailor it to how the human body works. Since female and male bodies work differently, you must tailor recovery to those bodies.

Important Distinctions

The differences between male and female physiology are so numerous that we couldn’t go into all of them in a mere article. However, we can cover a few things to explain the reasoning we followed in our recommendations. These include:

  • Differences in Muscle Fibers: Women tend to have more type I muscle fiber. This type of muscle fiber is more resilient than type II, more resistant to fatigue, and is ideal for speed and high-force movements, such as sprinting and weight training.
  • Differences in Substrate Utilization: Of the three main methods of creating energy, females, and males use the different methods in different concentrations. These differences in energy production mean differences in what their bodies need and recovery requirements.

Consider Active Recovery

Active recovery is when a low-intensity exercise is used after a strenuous workout. Everything from walking to yoga or swimming can be used as active recovery. It has a slew of benefits, including reducing lactic acid buildup, increasing blood flow, and eliminating toxins. 

Active recovery is an excellent tool to increase blood flow to extremities when used as a post-workout recovery for women. This is important because women tend to have lower arterial pressure than men, so increasing blood flow while removing toxins is critical.

Reduce Frequency and Duration of Recovery

Women tend to have more muscle fibers that require less rest and are more resistant to fatigue. Because of this and other factors, women will often need less rest between intervals of strenuous exercise. 

For instance, when doing 8 bouts of 60 seconds each, a woman might be recovered in 2 minutes, whereas a man may need an additional 30 seconds of rest. Experimenting with the duration of rests, seeing what is comfortable and what might need to be adjusted, is important, rather than relying on recommendations that may not apply. 

This will also affect rest days. Women may need fewer days of recovery between intense interval training than men.

Watch Post-Exercise Protein Consumption

Protein is essential in recovering and rebuilding muscle after workouts, and this is especially true for women because of their physiology. Research suggests that women may need to consume more protein than men to restore the same amount of muscle, especially because women are prone to negative energy balance. Consuming a protein/carbohydrate mix immediately after exercise and at 15-to-30-minute intervals will help offset this deficit.