Understanding sex differences in exercise fatigue can help develop better training strategies

Men are typically stronger and more powerful than women because they have more muscle mass. However, during fatiguing exercise, females have the advantage because they can often perform the same level of exercise intensity as males - especially at low intensities - for a longer duration! Females also lose less maximal strength in limb muscles than do males after fatiguing exercise, even after running a marathon. The cause for these sex differences in exercise fatigue are because females usually have muscles that are more fatigue-resistant than males. The exercise fatigue that develops in the nervous system is mostly similar for males and females.

Big lessons can be learned from this research because many exercise fatigue and training studies involve males only, or have not considered if males and females respond differently to exercise. It is important to determine if sex differences in exercise fatigue exist for different activities, so that we truly understand the limits of physical performance in both males and females across a broad range of exercise, sports activities and work tasks. Lastly, repeated exercise fatigue sessions are required for training of muscles. Understanding the sex differences in exercise fatigue therefore, will help scientists, coaches and health professionals determine the best strategies for training and rehabilitation in males and females.


American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)


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