When it comes to exercising, for the most part, there’s no reason women can’t do the same workouts as men. However, our bodies are different, so some things need to be considered.
First, women have softer ligaments and tendons, and therefore have a much higher risk of injury in the hip and knee regions.
Women also have a much wider pelvis since you are built to carry children, so there is a bigger angle between the femur from the hip to the knee joint. And a woman's pelvic bone has an anterior tilt, making your butt and belly naturally stick out some.
Because of these differences, women should modify lunges and squats for better form and, of course, to head off injury.
Backward lunges are better than forward lunges. In a forward lunge, you lean into your front knee, placing pressure on the joint and ligaments. And, due to the anterior tilt of the hips, women exert more pressure there than guys do during this exercise. But in a reverse lunge, the glutes and hamstrings absorb the shock, keeping your knees safer. Be sure to keep your chin parallel with the floor and then lean forward slightly during the backward movement to alleviate pressure on your lower back.
1. Stand in a plié position. A wider pelvis means a wider stance is better for squats. Standing with your feet closer together will enforce the anterior tilt of your pelvis, but a plié stance will allow the hips to naturally descend in a linear pattern down to the ground.
2. Point your toes outward. This will help shift your weight to your heels in order to counteract the anterior tilt.
3. Your knees should not move anywhere but in a 90-degree angle. Focus on sitting back and hinging at the hips as you lower instead of on bending your knees. Doing so will balance out the anterior pull, which is that pull going forward.
Lunges and Squats
1. Avoid the Smith machine. This machine creates an unnatural motion and can increase knee injuries because it forces your body into fixed patterns.
2. Put a pad on a barbell if using weight. Women have smaller trapezius muscles than men, so place a manta ray, towel, or pad on the bar to decrease the pressure on the back of your neck. More pressure here will move your body forward, but having the cushioning will help you stand in a better position and have better posture, and therefore activate your glutes properly.