May 15, 2015 | John Paul Catanzaro
Many women fear that weight training will result in overdeveloped muscles. Let’s take a look at what some of the experts have to say on this subject.
From Ellington Darden, PhD…
“Having excessively large muscles, such as you see on champion bodybuilders, require rare inherited characteristics. Such a woman would have to have unusually long muscle bellies and short tendons. This combination is rare even among men. Only one person in a million inherits these traits.
Furthermore, to be a champion bodybuilder, besides having excessively large muscles, a woman must be very lean. Once again, this necessitates favorable genetics in that a person would have to have a well-below-average number of fat cells.
In spite of these seldom-seen genetic traits, many women still worry about overdeveloping their muscles and becoming unattractive. However, larger muscles are, in fact, the very thing they need. Adding muscle will help women:
Don’t be afraid of building excessively large muscles. It won’t happen: not quickly … not easily … not ever!
If, by some twisted quirk, you did develop a muscle that was too large, all you’d have to do is stop exercising it. Within a week, the muscle would begin to atrophy, or shrink, from disuse.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, the loss of muscle mass, at the rate of one-half pound per year, is the number-one fitness problem of most women.
Embellish more muscle mass as your friend, your best ally against excessive fat and the aging process.
So you really do want larger, not smaller, muscles. Larger muscles are your tickets to drop pounds, firm flab, and maximize lean muscle lines.”
From Karlis Ullis, MD…
“It is extremely difficult to convince women to incorporate weight training into their workout routines. Bodybuilders never remove weight training from their workout routines, no matter how desperate they are to burn fat. Weight training is perhaps the single best way to preserve muscle while dieting, and can also increase your metabolic rate for many hours after your workout is over (and can raise your metabolic rate even more by increasing muscle mass). However, there seems to be an irrational fear in women’s minds that lifting weights a few times a week may make them look like an unfeminine professional bodybuilder overnight.
My message has always been this: women do not have to fear lifting weights. Most women lack the genetics to look like a professional female bodybuilder even if they wanted to. The often manly looking female bodybuilders are genetically prone to growing large muscle and take large doses of anabolic steroids. Even with more muscle, a woman won’t look muscular unless she has very low bodyfat levels. Women naturally have more bodyfat than men, which is what gives them their feminine curves. To get the masculine physique seen by some female bodybuilders, you must diet down to extremely low body fat levels and take diuretics to remove unwanted water from your body. In other words, adding weight training into your workout routine will not make you look more masculine and is essential for long-term fat loss. Even if a women does somehow put on more muscle mass than she wants, it will come off very easily. It is very easy to bulk down – bulking up is what’s difficult.”
From Elzi Volk…
“Women who fear resembling the Hulk should immediately put that anxiety to rest. It just won’t happen. For a simple reason: hormones. Women are from the planet Estrogen; men are from Testosterone. Although both genders produce both hormones, the relative ratios are significantly different. Men normally produce higher levels (approximately 10 times that of women) of testosterone and lower levels of estrogen. Women produce the opposite. The professional female bodybuilders that, until recently graced the pages of muscle magazines, gained their extreme muscle mass with the aid of supplemental anabolic/androgenic steroids. Federally classified as Schedule II drugs their usage carries legal ramifications as well as potential physiological side effects.
Although both testosterone and estrogen are anabolic (promoting the process where smaller units build bigger units in the body), testosterone is primarily responsible for increases in muscle tissue hypertrophy. Granted, some women have higher levels of androgens than normal and therefore have a propensity to increase muscle mass beyond the average woman. This attribute is genetically determined, and many of these women are competitive athletes. But a woman does not have to be an athlete to increase muscle mass. Any woman can increase strength and gain muscle.”
From Natalie Angier, author of Woman: An Intimate Geography…
“What is wrong with looking muscular? Muscles are beautiful. Strength is beautiful. Muscle tissue is beautiful. It is metabolically, medically, and philosophically beautiful. Muscles retreat when they’re not used, but they will always come back if you give them good reason. No matter how old you get, your muscles never lose hope. Few cells of the body are as capable as muscle cells are of change and reformation, of achievement and transcendence… Women need muscle, as much as they can muster. They need muscle to shield their light bones, and they need muscle to weather illness. And being strong in a blunt way, a muscleheaded way, is easier than being skilled at a sport. It is a democratic option, open to the klutzes and the latecomers, and women should seize the chance to become cheaply, fowzily strong, because the chance exists, and let’s be honest, we don’t have many. Being strong won’t make you happy or fulfilled, but it’s better to be sullen and strong than sullen and weak.”
From Garrett Braunreiter, CSCS…
“Research has proven over and over and over again the women who engage in a regular strength training program enjoy a long list of healthy benefits.
You still may fear the possibility of looking like a man, but that is a myth – unless, of course, you took major muscle-enhancing drugs and trained like male bodybuilders.
But as you realize the advantages of strength training, your negative attitude will rapidly fade.
Here are 10 reasons why you need to take strength training more seriously:
1. You’ll lose more fat than you’ll gain in muscle.
Number one concern of women, “I want to firm up and lose fat.” This is the way to do it. Stop worrying about bulking up; women have 10 to 30 times LESS of the hormones that cause bulking up. For example, in one study, the average woman who strength trains 2-3 times a week gained 1.75 lb of muscle, but LOST 3.5 of fat!
2. New muscle fights obesity.
You already know muscle is your most metabolically active tissue; the more you have, the higher your resting metabolism. You’ll burn more calories all day long. Each pound of muscle burns 35-50 extra calories daily. Gain three pounds of muscle, and you lose 10-12 pounds a year!
Okay, this one is obvious. You’ll have more energy and strength to handle your daily activities, such as carrying groceries or lifting children. Here’s an interesting fact: pound for pound, women develop strength at the same rate as men. Women complain to me about feeling weak, especially in the upper body. You won’t anymore!
4. Bone strength
Once you leave high school, you’ll have established all the bone density you’ll ever have – unless you strength train. Research has found weight training can increase spinal bone density by 13% in 6 months. A powerful tool for preventing osteoporosis.
5. Reduce risk of diabetes
Adult-onset diabetes is a growing concern for women and men. Strength training increases glucose (blood sugar) utilization by 23% in four months.
6. Fight heart disease
Some people may think strength training is not so good for your heart; all that exertion can’t be that good for you. But your cholesterol and blood pressure DOES improve. For maximum cardiovascular benefit, incorporate aerobic conditioning into your program.
7. Fight back pain and arthritis
Strengthening your low back muscles has an 80% success rate in relieving or eliminating back pain. Strength training strengthens joints, so it can ease arthritis pain.
8. Be a better athlete
Strength training improves not only your strength, but power, agility, and coordination. You’re more proficient and you greatly reduce your risk of injury.
9. Age doesn’t matter
The benefits of strength training are possible at ANY age – so no excuses!
10. Stronger mind
A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling. You feel more confident and capable.”
Bottom Line: Women should embrace weight training, not fear it.