Building Muscle for Women: What Is the Potential

female bodybuilders

What can a weightlifting woman achieve? Apparently, in relation to this issue, people were divided into two camps. The main audience sincerely believes that any woman just needs to touch the barbell to wake up the pumped-over female version of the Hulk the next morning. Those who understand the physiology of exercises a little more understand that this is obvious nonsense. Come to any average gym and see that really big muscles are hard even for men. According to statistics, the female body has 15 times less testosterone than the male. This fact is the most frequent argument in favor of the fact that building muscle for women is way harder than for males.

Women and Gym

In the modern fitness community, the representatives of the fair sex are most often recommended to train like men, but at the same time, expect much less muscle growth. There is some truth in this statement, but causality is moving in the completely opposite direction.

To begin with, let’s compare the natural muscle potential of women and men. If evaluated as a percentage, how many muscles can a woman gain compared to a man? Does this amount correlate with testosterone levels? It turns out that a woman can gain only ~ 7% of the muscle mass that a man is able to gain? Or maybe half?

women fitness

With the help of strength training, women can build as much muscle as men. Of course, in a percentage ratio. In fact, women are able to achieve the same size, and as for strength, they can even surpass men.

But the difference lies in the starting point. Even at the start, men have great muscle mass and great strength. However, the relative increase in muscle size in women and men is the same.

Researchers in protein metabolism have come to the same conclusion. After training and eating, the female body produces as much muscle protein as the male one. One study even showed that with the same level of muscle mass, the female body synthesizes muscle protein at a faster pace than the male.

Women vs Men in Professional Sports

If you think that these are all stupid theories from laboratory assistants studying novices, then the following facts are for you. Professional women athletes who do not use drugs have 85% muscle mass compared to men. Sports presented included Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting. The difference of 15% is easily explained by the following 3 factors:

  • The percentage of fat in the female body is naturally higher. To regulate hormones, women need about 12% of their fat mass, and men need ~ 3%. And there is also breast.
  • Usually, people expect much less from women. Even women themselves underestimate their abilities and what physical form they can achieve in comparison with men. In one popular study, people were simply told that they were on steroids, and this increased their strength growth by 321%. In addition, these were advanced athletes who, even before taking a placebo, pressed from the chest and crouched with a weight of more than 137 kilograms. In addition, according to the protocol, an androgenic-anabolic steroid, Dianabol, was used. Its dosage was 70 mg per week. Such a dose of this Dianabol increases the strength of advanced athletes by only a couple of percent. Now you understand what happens to women when they find out that they have 15 times less testosterone in their bodies.
  • There are more men in sports, so the selection is much stricter on a professional level. Elite athletes – men – can be said to be the best representatives of their gender. In women, the requirements are lower. Perhaps many athletes could potentially break world records, but because of their own underestimation, they do not even try.

Is building muscle for women easy?

building muscle for women

Ask this question for both women and men in the gym, and you will get two opposite answers – yes, it’s easy and practically impossible.

And how are things really going on? Scientists have found that in response to strength training, there is no difference in the extent of muscle growth between women and men.

The emergence of myths about the other effect of strength training on the body of women is due to the fact that studies were conducted mainly on men, and then, based on a misconception about the effect of a higher level of testosterone on protein synthesis, erroneous conclusions were made.

So, why, in reality, having started from scratch, a married couple observes different results – a man adds more than a woman. Yes, because initially, the percentage of muscle to fat mass in men is more profitable, and muscle gain with the same % will show different figures on the scales.

The main location of fat and muscles in women is the lower part of the body, and it is to it the main complaints of the fair sex are. It is clear that in this case, more attention (the amount of work) is paid to the bottom and significantly less to the top, while men distribute the training load more evenly and at the output have a more solid increase in muscle mass as a whole. ⠀

Moreover, the training of most women is extremely voluminous and not intense enough, i.e., a huge amount of work with small weights, while cycling in intensity and volume, both in men and in women, is more effective.

Conclusion. The potential in terms of building muscle for women is the same as that of men, and the lack of results can be explained by methodological miscalculations in the training program.

Additionally, see what are the basic advice for kids strength training.

What is more, find out the true cause of weight gain.