Written by Matt Knight
“There is no reason why men and women should train differently”
There is a general misconception amongst female trainees that if they start lifting weights they will turn into the Macho Man. Women do not ‘bulk’ from weight training; they simply do not have the hormonal production to elicit noticeable gains in muscle mass in a short period of time. Females tend to produce 15-20 times less testosterone than healthy men which is a major factor in muscle growth, hence the reason men are naturally bigger and more muscular than women.
If a woman’s goal is to reduce body fat and keep it at bay, then a training programme geared to gaining and maintaining muscle mass should be their aim. The alternative is countless hours of cardio ahead of them (which is counterproductive) and a very minimalist boring diet for the foreseeable future. Not so great for the working woman!
The benefits of resistance training go far beyond the amount of calories you burn in the gym. An increased metabolism caused by minimal increases in muscle mass will ensure that you’re still burning fat and staying in shape on your days off from the gym. It is estimated that for every pound of muscle you add to your body you will increase the amount of fat you burn by 50 calories per day. Therefore, the more muscle you have the easier it is to get and stay lean!
Unlike ‘cardio’, resistance training is a tool in the job of hormonal manipulation. Resistance training will affect 4 main body chemicals/hormones:
#1 Increased insulin sensitivity:
When you consume a starchy or sugary food your body releases insulin, the insulin either ferries the blood sugar from these foods into the muscle cells to be stored as glycogen, or into the fat cells making them larger. A way that insulin sensitivity is increased is by adding muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have the more insulin receptor sites you have for the blood sugar to go to. Frequent resistance training will also ensure that blood sugar gets sent straight into your muscle cells to fuel them & aid recovery from hard training.
#2 Increased testosterone production:
Resistance training will cause the body to release more testosterone (very small amounts in women as discussed above). Not only will testosterone increase your sex drive but will also help to get rid of bingo wings & reduce hip, bum and upper thigh fat (what more could you want!).The fat stored in these four areas are closely linked to oestrogen and testosterone balance within the body. A cleverly designed training programme and nutrition plan can help melt and tighten them.
#3 Increased lactic acid production:
‘Feel the burn’. That burning sensation you get when lifting weights is a build up of lactic acid. Minimal rest periods between sets will ensure maximal build, this leads to a change in the Ph balance of your blood which sends a message to the brain to secrete more growth hormone.
#4 Increased growth hormone secretion:
Growth hormone is the number one hormone that tells the body to burn fat & it also informs the body to maintain all your hard earned muscle mass. A 30 minute intense resistance session can boost growth hormone secretion by over 200% when compared to cardio or aerobic type classes.
Another reason why women don’t bulk is due to eating habits. Women tend to have a smaller appetite than men, having a built in tendency to watch what they eat and also tend to be more carb orientated. If you observe men and women post workout men tend to migrate towards protein whilst women tend to go for carb options. Proteins are the building blocks for repairing and increasing muscle mass, if you don’t give a builder bricks he can’t build a house. It takes an excess of protein and calories to increase muscle mass, you’re not going to turn into the hulk by learning how to deadlift and squat. Don’t fear the weights room, enjoy the results you will gain.
Resistance training also improves your quality of life, getting stronger without getting bigger makes mundane tasks of lifting and carrying easier, whilst improving posture, reducing your risk of injury & giving you more independence and confidence.
Strong defined muscles on a female body gives you contours and curves that are impossible to achieve on a treadmill and will help you feel far more confident in and out of your clothes.
“Toned arms? Uplifted bum? The results are on the dumbbell rack weighting for you!”