Female Muscle Growth: Fact vs Fiction
Go to any gym in the nation, and you’ll find women putting cardio equipment through its paces. Women seem to love their aerobics classes and cardio machines and put their focus on those two areas to help them achieve the goals they desire.
Yet, for some reason, women still avoid resistance training and using weights in their programs. Many still don’t believe there is a difference between male and female muscle growth – which there is.
Why Some Women Don't Lift Weights
If you were to survey women and ask them why they don’t lift weights, the large majority of them would tell you it’s because they don’t want to get big and bulky like men. It’s 2021, and by now, you would think that myth would have been taken behind the barn and put out of its misery, but for some reason, it’s still alive and turning women away from picking up the iron and moving it.
The bottom line is that female muscle growth does not take place as quickly as men. Period. It’s nearly impossible.
Ladies, I’m here to shed some light on the topic and dismiss much of the myths and fallacies out there to help you quickly and effectively reach your health and physique goals by putting more focus on female muscle growth.
Disclaimer: Whether your focus is female muscle growth, weight loss, or overall health, it is always recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting or engaging in any exercise, nutrition, or supplement program.
Female Muscle Growth Does Not Happen Overnight
Despite what you hear, ladies, you’re not going to lift weights today and then tomorrow morning wake up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger and start shaving your face before you head out the door. While that example is an exaggeration, so is the thought that you’re going to get big and bulky simply by weight training. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Why Muscle Growth Is Slower In Women
Female muscle growth is a slow process due to a lack of an anabolic hormone called testosterone. Not only that, but you would need to put yourself in a severe caloric surplus and be consuming large amounts of protein in order to maximize female muscle growth to the extent where you’re building any sort of serious lean muscle mass that would cause you to look “big and bulky.”
The reason men have the ability to put on lean muscle mass quite quickly is due to their naturally higher levels of testosterone. Men can possess as much as 15 times more testosterone when compared to women.
In addition, women possess more of a catabolic hormone known as estrogen, which can increase cortisol levels.
The combination of estrogen and cortisol can minimize female muscle growth. Getting big and bulky isn’t something women can achieve naturally.
That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t build lean and sexy muscles – it will merely take you longer to see the results than it would your male counterpart. In fact, you can train using the exact same workout routine as men without causing you to look big and bulky.
The Benefits Of Strength Training
The advantage of pushing yourself in the weight room and focusing on female muscle growth comes with many benefits.
Not only does female muscle growth help build and shape your physique, but research has also shown it can also:
- Build strength which can aid you in your everyday life.
- Boost your self-esteem.
- Enhance weight loss and body fat reduction.
- Boost cognition.
- Improve athletic performance.
Something else we should focus on is what female muscle growth can do for you. Have you been doing endless amounts of cardio, only to find very minimal results? You’re not alone, and many women experience the same sluggish results. That’s because you don’t have a lot of lean muscle.
Muscle tissue requires energy in order to move. You move throughout the day, which causes your muscle to contract and elongate through concentric and eccentric movements. For that to take place, energy needs to be produced to allow for that movement and muscular function.
The more lean muscle you have, the more energy that is required. Can you guess what that means?
It means the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn – even while at rest!
Now that we’ve laid out the foundational information about what it actually takes to increase female muscle growth, how can you achieve it while minimizing fat gain?
How to Add Quality LEAN Muscle Mass While Minimizing Fat Gain
Unless you have abnormally high natural testosterone levels or are taking some sort of anabolic (under a doctor’s supervision), we’ve already dismissed the fallacy that you’re going to get HUGE and BULKY from lifting weights.
That said, you may be interested in shaping your physique. Maybe you want to increase the size of your legs to add more shape and dimension to them? Perhaps you want to achieve a rounder butt by building your glutes?
You don’t need to be a competitive bodybuilder, fitness, or figure competitor in order to want these things. It’s your body – build and shape it however you wish.
If you want to achieve female muscle growth and see changes to your physique, here is a blueprint of what needs to occur.
1. Lift HEAVY Weights
Despite what you have probably been told for years, lifting light weights for high reps is not the best way for you to achieve female muscle growth.
While it’s not impossible to build muscle using light weights, the fact of the matter is that you’d need to push each set to failure in order to overload the muscle and break down the muscle fibers to force any type of change and allow for hypertrophy to take place.
A much easier and more effective way to increase muscle size is to use heavy weights that only allow you to achieve 8-12 reps per set with strict and controlled form.
If you break your form, the weight is too heavy, and you should decrease the weight slightly.
Don’t be afraid to change things up, either. The goal is to constantly be challenging your muscles in new ways through progressive overload. What that means is, rather than doing three sets of 10 reps with a given weight, push yourself the next workout to do the same three sets of 10 reps, only with a higher weight.
Not only are you challenging the muscle fibers to use a weight heavier than last time, but it’s also helping you build strength as well.
You can even increase the total workload from 10 reps per set to 12 reps per set. Or you can even do an additional set and bump an exercise up from three sets to four sets. Again, progressive overload is what you should focus on achieving.
2. Don’t Complete Tons of Cardio
While the goal is not to completely eliminate cardio from your routine. It is commonly recommended by the CDC that you get in 150 minutes of aerobic per week.
That being said, your goal shouldn’t be to complete high-intensity cardio workouts that can burn a ton of calories.
If your focus is female muscle growth, you want to put the calories you consume during the day to use and get the most benefit from them by utilizing them for muscle recovery versus burning them off.
While great for heart health, cardio burns calories – calories you need to help rebuild torn-down muscle fibers and help replenish glycogen stores from intense resistance training sessions.
For your cardio workouts, focus on utilizing a low-intensity steady state (LISS) form of cardio, such as walking or riding a bike. 30 minutes five days a week at a low intensity is more than enough to provide some heart health and cardiovascular benefits while not burning through a bunch of calories you need for female muscle growth.
3. Increase Your Calories and Protein Intake
To achieve female muscle growth, you will have to do what many women are generally afraid to do… Eat more calories.
Most women are afraid to put themselves in a caloric surplus where they are consuming more calories than they burn (or greater than their maintenance calories), but it is necessary to add lean muscle.
Again, being in a surplus and consuming more protein daily is not going to make you big and bulky.
By adjusting your calories 250-500 more than maintenance, you will slowly start to see changes in your musculature while minimizing fat gain.
The maintenance cardio you do throughout the week for heart health can also help you keep fat storage at bay. As you progress, you may find you need to consume even more calories to continue making lean muscle gains.
Increasing your caloric intake doesn’t necessarily mean you need to add more meals. It could be something as simple as having a healthy, protein-packed snack between meals which can help you achieve female muscle growth.
These high-protein snacks can be anything from a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or natural peanut butter, a protein bar, a protein shake, or even something like Greek yogurt mixed with some natural nut butter or nuts, to name a few examples.
You can even get creative with your meals by utilizing something like sunflower seeds or almonds that can be added to a salad to increase the overall protein content.
Be creative but ensure you’re still hitting your daily caloric goals. You may want to track your nutrition through something like the free MyFitnessPal app you can download to your phone.
4. Leverage Helpful Supplements That Promote Muscle-Building
There’s no denying the fact that supplements are incredibly helpful in moving you closer to achieving your female muscle growth goals. There are a few “muscle-building supplements” that both men and women can use to help fast-track their results.
While nothing compares to getting your daily nutrition and macros from a whole food source, protein powder can be extremely useful to help you more easily meet your daily protein requirements and is beneficial when used post-workout to allow your body the ability to quickly absorb the nutrients and shuttle them out to the muscles in order to kickstart the recovery and rebuilding process for female muscle growth.
Consider sources such as a whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, a blended protein containing both, or if you’re vegan or prefer a non-dairy or non-animal-based protein source, you can go with a plant-based protein.
While not 100% necessary, if you want to maximize female muscle growth, you need something to help fuel you throughout your workout and reduce fatigue like a pre-workout.
A stimulant-based and even a stimulant-free pre-workout can help energize you and push through grueling workouts while also helping to maximize strength and recovery to get the most out of each rep, set, and workout.
When it comes to supplements that are backed by research, one of the most scientifically studied supplements on the planet is creatine.
While there are plenty of creatine sources out there, the one that has proven to be advantageous and with the most research behind it is the tried-and-true creatine monohydrate.
This supplement can help improve strength, enhance recovery, and build muscle.
The Only Thing Holding You Back Are Myths and a Lack of Execution
To wrap things up, this article exposed some of the lies and myths that so many women are told to believe, and that can be preventing them from seeing the results they desire.
Female muscle growth is a slow process that will only yield results if the time and effort are put in place.
Take what you have learned in this article and apply it to your training and lifestyle. Stay consistent and committed, and in no time, you may start seeing your body transform into what you’ve been envisioning for a very long time.
Don’t allow bad information to hold you back from achieving success!