Women and muscle building has become a controversial topic in the fitness industry. And one camp is becoming increasingly vocal with “their truth” “The extreme lift all you want nothing will happen to you camp”
The problem with being in any camp is 3 fold.
When you’re in a camp it closes your mind and stops you from listening to another side, considering what they’re seeing or even looking at the evidence staring you in the face.
You keep saying the same thing ‘you don’t have enough testosterone’ even when its function and how its level can differ from woman to woman is not clear to you.
What is testosterone anyway?
Testosterone is a hormone found in humans. In men it is produced in the testicles while in women it is produced in the ovaries but at a significantly lesser amount
As Webmd simply explains, “A hormone is a chemical substance. It’s secreted by one tissue and travels by way of body fluids to affect another tissue in your body”.
Testosterone controls sexual and reproductive development. It is significantly higher in males and where the level is too high in females, you see signs like excessive acne, increased muscle mass, enlarged clitoris, excessive body hair, weight gain especially in the tummy areas and flaps of skin on the neck and hair.
Telling women blatantly that they will not build muscle because they do not have enough testosterone is a statement that should be made with caution.
The truth is that anything is possible in the fitness industry.
If you are a personal trainer, what you should be telling your female clients is this– building a muscular body is possible for a woman, but it depends on your body type, the kind of training and nutrition program, you embark on. Every type of body transformation is possible in fitness, so it’s possible for women to build muscle.
As a trainer, ask women what they want in the muscle department, then focus on their body type and work out a plan that guarantees what they want. Don’t take anything for granted or given. Nothing is given in fitness.
Have a picture of the types of muscles a woman could build and let her pick the kind of body she wants. What she picks will enlighten you more than what she says, about the type of body and muscle she wants you to help her build.
I have trained Mesomorph who only need to stare long and hard at iron before building muscle. So am I supposed to give them 60kg to dead lift or 25kg for bicep curl and tell them nothing will happen to their muscle. And then start working to reverse it when something does happen to their muscle, because something will definitely happen.
If you’re still saying that nothing will happen, then it’s either you’re just repeating what most trainers are saying or you’ve not trained enough female clients with different body types to know how quickly a woman can go muscular if you don’t put her body type, training and nutrition in the equation.
Athletes, footballers and tennis players all have different body types. Some build muscle easily, and some don’t. Look around you. Google female tennis players and look at their bodies. Athletes? Look at their bodies. Women don’t just differ in terms of how well they respond to resistance training in general; they also differ in what type of muscle size they will build.
Some women who believed the “not enough testosterone”, “You can’t build muscle like men” mantra, and attacked the iron and everything “lift able” were shocked with unbelief when they noticed their bicep developing, their thighs getting bigger and their clothes tighter.
In some of these lifting forums, you actually have women complaining. Surprise! That they have excessive guns aka biceps and not being too happy about it.
And everyone chimes in with reduce the weight and stop doing bicep curl. So, it’s possible and they know that if you subject any woman to the same training, nutrition and consistency that male muscle builders use, that with time, she’ll build the type of muscular body that is suitable for the testosterone level in her body and her body type. But will she build muscle? Oh yes.
In this study, that monitored the growth in muscle size and strength in the biceps of men and women, after subjecting them to the same progressive resistance training for 12 weeks (3 months). They made a significant observation.
The change in bicep size for both men and women was between 0.4 cm – 13.6cm. However, men experienced more cross sectional area change (CSA) about 2.5%. According to the study “Men had only a slight advantage in relative size gains compared with women, whereas women outpaced men considerably in relative gains in strength”.
Their conclusion? “Men and women exhibit wide ranges of response to resistance training, with some subjects showing little to no gain, and others showing profound changes, increasing size by over 10 cm and doubling their strength”.
Your body type plays a big role in the size and how fast you build muscle. Mesomorph respond to strength training by building muscle mass much faster than their Ectomorph counterparts, even though they may be following identical training and regimens.
A female client came to me for weight loss. She had broad shoulders and big arms. She had well defined thighs and calves. When I asked her what she wanted, she told me she wanted to just look good and not look so muscular. Would I have given her heavier weights because it would make her healthier and preserve her muscle or is there a better way to get her to achieve her health and aesthetic goals while keeping her needs in view?
Obviously, giving her big weights would have been an error.
Your genes also play a big role. One of my sons Claudio was born with well defined muscles. Sometimes, I wonder if he was lifting weights in my tummy. My husband was an elite football player and has well defined muscles. Claudio was born with that genetic advantage. His brother on the other hand, needs to work harder to build muscle. Claudio doesn’t, he already has well defined lean mass and any little effort makes it more pronounced. At 11 his glutes are something else.
As a toddler, you have to get ready to lift him up. Most people that taught him cute and chubby and lifted him up were shocked at how much he weighed – all muscle little fat, on the other hand lifting his brother was a breeze.
Your gene affects your response to training and how fast you build muscle and it also applies if you’re a woman.
Is it possible to build muscle with aerobic training?
Yes. Aerobic can also lead to muscle building. And I’m talking about my experience with clients here. When you use a high step aerobics board for a Mesomorph, you are in essence, practicing the principle of progressive overload. The result will be muscle growth; in this case your glutes and quad will increase in size. The same applies to sprinting uphill.
Learn about your body type as a woman and how it can affects your choice.
We should all come together and tell women the truth. Inspire and empower them to make the right choice for them, not make it a fight of gender inequality, your personal struggles and issues, or what women have been taught.
Teach them about lifting weight and its importance for a healthier lifestyle, weight loss and muscle retention and let them decide how big they want to go.
Just like squats, do it consistently and you will build muscular thighs. There should be a balance.
Your client is not an avenue for you to vent your anger on gender inequality. At the end of the day, you’re doing the same thing, feeding on their fears of acceptance and the need to belong.
Ladies, nobody is tying you up anymore. Set yourself free and decide what you want. Just know that it’s possible for you to go big.
It all depends on 3 things – your body type, your gene, the type of nutrition and resistance training you engage in. If you want to go big, it’s your choice, go for it. If you don’t, it’s choice too, go for what you want and what you’re comfortable with.
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