Can Women Grow Muscle Like Men?
As physiology advances and sports medicine digs deeper into the mechanisms behind the best practices to increase muscle mass, we find more and more reasons to participate in resistance training. But a question that often comes up is ‘Can women grow muscle like men?’ What are the differences between both men and women and what are the myths around gaining muscle?
The health benefits provided by a regular weight training routine are many. There would not be one doctor or medical professional who would not suggest weight bearing exercises for all age groups. In particular, weight-bearing exercise and resistance training have long been noted to improve bone strength.
Misconceptions of resistance training and muscle growth for women
The world of resistance training is riddled with misconceptions. Often people who are new to the practice of weight training fall victim to these myths and end up wasting precious time, hard earned money and energy.
Women are especially susceptible to this pitfall because the majority of the supplemental material is geared towards men.
One of the most common fallacies is that weight training will make women look bulky or masculine, and for this reason, alone many avoid hitting the gym and lifting weights.
While the fundamental underlying biochemical processes behind muscle growth are the same across both sexes, there are distinct differences in the way men’s and women’s bodies react to weight training.
A breakdown of your muscles
There are over six hundred and fifty skeletal muscles in the human body, all of which are capable of rapid adaption and growth if correctly stimulated.
Although muscle growth is a physiologically complicated process, there has been a vast research movement that has allowed nutritionists, physiologists, and physical trainers a deep and thorough understanding of the subject.
How does pure muscle growth happen?
During high-intensity resistance training the fibres that make up the muscles in your body suffer small wounds called micro-tears, and it is at these tear sites that a process of protein accretion builds up the muscle making it stronger and more substantial in volume.
So can women grow muscle like men?
Whereas both men and women have the same number of muscles, the primary difference lies in the percentage of body mass these muscles represent.
On average, a typical adult male has around forty percent muscle mass while the average female has approximately thirty percent.
The distribution of muscle mass also differs between the sexes, with women possessing only about sixty percent of upper body strength compared to males.
What causes these discrepancies?
Hormonal production is principally responsible for the pronounced differences in musculature between men and women.
While women have an inherently similar biological capacity as men to attain strength, under identical circumstances, they will not be able to generate the same amount of muscle mass due to hormonal differences.
Hormones play a big part
The androgenic and estrogenic hormones mark the dissimilarity between the sexes during development and also in their respective response to resistance training.
Both sexes produce the hormones testosterone and estrogen; however, the amount secreted is markedly different with men producing many times more testosterone and significantly less estrogen than women.
During the adolescence, women begin to secrete large amounts of estrogen through the ovaries.
Estrogen and gaining muscle for women
Estrogen generates a significant impact on the female body’s sexual development; breasts increase in size, and the body begins to accumulate fat around the hips and thighs, bone growth is stimulated, and the initial regulation of the menstrual cycle occurs.
On the other hand, men experience a surge of testosterone that promotes a higher generation of muscle and bone mass compared to a woman.
What can women expect from weight training?
Similarly to men, women can expect to increase muscular strength by about thirty to forty percent in the first few months of a consistent resistance training routine.
Female bodybuilders have to undergo years of specialised training to attain levels of masculine looking muscle growth.
The average female can expect to see a noticeable increase in lean muscle mass which has the added benefit of increasing basal metabolic rate and force your body to burn calories more efficiently.
An increased metabolism will have the cumulative effect of higher rate fat burning so that arms, legs, thighs, and buttocks will achieve a more toned look.
Tips for women looking to grow muscle
Augment your nutritional intake. Muscle growth requires fuel, and the most natural and most efficient manner in which you can provide your body with it is to increase your caloric consumption.
As long as you maintain consistency in your workouts any extra calories will be partitioned towards muscle growth and no additional adipose tissue will develop.
Your caloric intake and nutrition are key
Consider a caloric intake that hovers around twelve to fifteen times your body weight.
All three macronutrients need to be addressed in your nutritional plan. We recommend forty percent protein as this will provide the majority of amino acids required for new muscle fibre growth.
Thirty percent carbohydrates will provide your body with glycogen and improve insulin metabolism, and thirty percent fats as these are essential for proper hormonal synthesis.
What about cardio when lifting weights?
Take care to include some form of cardio or aerobic activity in your weekly workout routine. It is a common misconception that every calorie burned through aerobic exercise is one less calorie that your body will proportion towards muscle growth.
While it is true that excessive cardio can potentially consume muscle mass to fuel your body, most women need a combination of cardio and aerobic exercise to maintain lean and toned muscle.
You need to be steadily increasing your weights to see muscle growth
Be consistent in steadily increasing the amount of weight you lift. Getting complacent with being able to lift a specific weight will lead you to plateau and prevent you from experiencing growth.
Always be on the lookout for proper form; sloppily doing weight training exercises can lead to injury and stunted growth.
Always remember that a woman with average hormone production will never achieve the same amount of mass muscle growth as a man.
Weight training though can provide a substantial amount of health benefits to anyone, and there is no reason for women to abstain from them.
The differences in muscle mass between the sexes are merely quantitative and not qualitative, so with a proper workout routine and a complete supplementation program, any woman can develop an incredible toned and feminine physique.
Here is the perfect supplement stack for any woman looking to start a successful resistance training program.
- MUSCLESPORT SLIMWHEY: Women’s Premium Slimming Protein Shake. Loaded with high-quality whey isolate and peptides SLIMWHEY will provide you all the protein your new muscles will need.
- MUSCLESPORT CARBIOBURN REVOLUTION: Super Potent Thermogenic. Increase your energy, improve your focus, and control your appetite with CARDIOBURN REVOLUTION.
- MUSCLESPORT LIPOSLIM for HER: Fat burner specifically formulated for women and has no caffeine or other stimulants.
- Cureton, KIRK J., et al. “Muscle hypertrophy in men and women.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 20.4 (1988): 338-344.
- Alway, S. E., et al. “Contrasts in muscle and myofibers of elite male and female bodybuilders.” Journal of Applied Physiology 67.1 (1989): 24-31.
- Mayhew, J. L., and P. M. Gross. “Body composition changes in young women with high resistance weight training.” Research Quarterly. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation 45.4 (1974): 433-440.
We have, in preparing this information, used our best endeavours to ensure that the information contained herein is true and accurate, but accept no responsibility and disclaim all liability in respect of any errors, inaccuracies or misstatements contained herein. Information guide only and any other further information should be considered by a professional.