The most important aspects of muscle building for women

The most important aspects of muscle building for women

The topic of muscle building used to be addressed almost exclusively to men. Fortunately, that has changed completely. Today, women do strength training as naturally as men. Here are the most essential facts about muscle building for women:

Testosterone and other hormones

It was said that women do not have the physiological prerequisites to build muscles effectively for a long time. At first glance, this seems to be true. For example, women produce up to 20 times less testosterone than men. And the well-known sex hormone is vital for building muscle. But fortunately, other hormones are involved in muscle building. These include the female sex hormone estrogen. Women produce significantly more of it than men, and it plays a crucial role in female muscle building.

Myth: Muscles lead to a bulky figure

A widespread prejudice and a particularly persistent one: if women do strength training, it is supposed to lead to a bulky figure. Of course, there are very hard-training women for whom this is true, especially in professional Crossfit or bodybuilding. If you want to emulate them, you must train very hard and have a specific genetic predisposition. Or you have to help yourself with illicit means. However, you risk your health in the process. For the vast majority, the following applies: if you do regular and sufficiently intensive strength training as a woman, you are more likely to get an athletic and slim figure.

Do you prefer to tone up or build muscle?

If you look in one of the many women’s magazines, you will mainly find good advice on “toning.” In most cases, the recommendation is to go running regularly, do yoga and lift light weights. This works to some extent but has nothing to do with proper training for the female muscles. If you want to build muscle with your training, you have to train differently and have a special diet.

muscle building for women
The same training principles apply to muscle building for women (ⓒProstock-studio)

How many muscles do you want?

You need to ask yourself this: Do you just want to be lean, or do you want to be lean and athletic? If you choose the second option, you should read on. The three most essential requirements for building female muscle are:

  • An effective muscle building workout
  • an optimal calorie intake
  • the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats

The facts about muscle building for women

Let’s get to the unalterable facts: If you want to build muscle, yoga, light weights, Pilates, and the like are not enough. When it comes to muscle building for women, you have to work with appropriately heavy weights and train to near exhaustion. The last repetitions have to be really hard. Muscle tremors are also possible and desirable. However, correct technique is always important. No question, it is exhausting, you will sweat, and you need a good motivation, but if you persevere, you will be rewarded. Here is a selection of exercises you should do regularly:

  • Squats in different variations
  • Bench press
  • Deadlift
  • Hip lifts
  • Planks in different variations
  • Exercises for the latissimus
  • Biceps and triceps curls

A selection of strength training methods

Here on this blog, you will find numerous strength training methods for proven successful muscle building. The best known is the so-called hypertrophy training. With this method, you do 3 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions at 80 to 90 percent of your one-repetition maximum strength. The interval between sets is 60 to 120 seconds. Speaking of one-repetition maximum, you should test it regularly to exercise with the correct weights. Training with resistance bands is a little less precise. But here, too, the motto is to go very close to exhaustion. Afterward, give the trained muscles about 48 hours to recover before loading them again. Here is a selection of effective strength training methods with links:

The right calorie intake

There is one crucial factor why muscle hypertrophy does not work for women. It is too low a calorie intake. If you want to lose weight, you have no other choice but muscle building. It is counterproductive. There is complex physiology behind this, but in short, restricting energy intake puts the body into an energy-saving mode. Since building new muscle tissue is not essential for survival and uses a lot of energy, it is not essential. Also important:

  • A calorie deficit reduces anabolic hormone levels necessary for muscle growth.
  • On the other hand, if you eat slightly more calories than you burn and at the same time train intensively, you can build muscle.
  • The extra calories increase the production of anabolic hormones, promote muscle growth and improve the ability to regenerate.
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