Women have made a huge impact on the hard-core training world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of women out there who are still afraid of gaining muscle.
Part of this has to do with a lack of education. Many women don’t know that having muscle is their best defense against gaining body fat and it will radically improve their overall health.
The other part mostly has to do with women having different viewpoints about what it means to be “too muscular.”
Obviously, each woman should be able to make her own decision about the amount of muscle mass that will make her happy with her body. This article will simply give you the details about the incredible benefits women can get from training for muscle.
#1: Losing Body Fat Is Easier
Most women have heard that gaining muscle is smart if they want to lose body fat because it will increase their metabolism so that they burn more calories daily.
What most women don’t know is that by training for muscle, you cause physiological and metabolic adaptations in the muscle that “protect” your body against fat. More muscle means more insulin receptor sites on cells, so that the carbs you eat have a place to “go” to be burned for energy instead of stored as fat.
More muscle also means more motor units are trained. A motor unit is a collection of muscle fibers and the neuron in your brain that makes it move. Recruiting more motor units is key because it gives you more metabolic “ammunition” to protect you from any less than stellar diet or lifestyle choices.
Want some evidence?
When scientists compared a 12-week workout program that built muscle with a high-rep, light load protocol, they found that the women that lifted heavier weights, lost nearly 5 kg of body fat, whereas the women who did the high rep, light load muscular endurance program lost zero fat.
#2: Effortless Leanness Becomes Possible
If you don’t make training for muscle and priority, the only weapons you have against gaining body fat are diet and cardio. If you choose that route, it will be
necessary to cut back on how much you eat to offset the drop in metabolism that comes with aging.
Now, it is true that to truly be effortlessly lean, you have to figure out a way to eat that is sustainable and allows you to satisfy hunger without overeating. So diet is a key component.
But even so, no one wants to have to eat less to avoid getting fat, and besides, low muscle mass is associated with a variety of serious health problems including diabetes, cancer, and accelerated aging.
#3: You’ll Be More Toned
The average training program for getting “toned” has women lifting super light weights and doing bizarre exercises. This is not an effective strategy for changing your body.
If you want to get toned, two things need to happen:
* You need to lose excess body fat.
* You need to increase the size of the muscle cells to provide shape.
The easiest way to make both of these things happen is to train for muscle. This does not mean you will develop large muscles and look like a man because most women start out with much, much less muscle than men due to their lower testosterone levels.
You also won’t look like a female body builder or even a serious CrossFitter if you put on a few pounds of muscle. Those results come from years and years of very intense training and often include complex nutritional supplementation and possibly the use of anabolic steroids.
Therefore, if getting “toned” is your goal, a small increase in muscle mass will give you curves and boost metabolism significantly so you burn exponentially more calories at rest, enabling fat loss.
#4:You Can Always Get Rid of It If You Want—Losing Muscle Is Easy, Gaining It Is The Hard Part
Just in case you’re not convinced to try a weight training program geared at building some beautiful, protective muscle, know that if you try it and find you don’t like it, it’s easy to get rid of.
Studies show that when you completely stop working out, you lose muscle and strength rapidly, nearly returning to baseline values after 6 months.
Or, if you find you want to keep a little bit of the muscle you’ve gained, but not all, you can ditch your lifting program in favor of endurance exercise. Exercise like distance running is catabolic and will quickly lead to a decrease in the size of the powerful, larger Type II muscle fibers so that your overall musculature will decrease.
Of course, one major drawback of both options is that besides losing the strength you had gained, you don’t get all the following protective effects listed in this article.
#5: Stronger Bones & Less Risk Of Fracture
Women begin to lose bone density as soon as they enter their 30s, with more rapid losses occurring once they hit menopause. Building muscle helps prevent this for a few reasons.
First, muscle increases the body’s ability to buffer acid, and an elevated acid load in the body leads to bone loss.
Second, training with heavy weights stimulates bone growth throughout the body. Finally, lifting strengthens tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue involved in musculoskeletal function.
#6: You’ll Have A Healthier Baby & A Leaner Pregnancy
A recent study found that pregnant women who participated in an aquatic resistance training program for 6 months until the start of the third trimester had healthier babies than a control group. The offspring had better insulin sensitivity over the first year, and less chance of being big or small at birth (both markers that indicate risk of disease development).
The women in the training group gained significantly less weight and had much better glucose tolerance throughout the study. There were no cases of gestational diabetes in the training group, whereas half of the women in the control group developed gestational diabetes.
#7: Be Happier & Have Less Risk of Depression
It’s well documented that people who start strength training improve their mental outlook and just feel all-around happier. One study found that women who lifted weights in order to put on muscle had greater physical confidence, fewer feelings of depression, and less fatigue by the end of the study.
A related benefit of gaining muscle is that you’ll have better estrogen metabolism for less risk of monthly mood disturbances.
#8: Be Smarter & Make More Money
Studies show college students who work out with weights get better grades, and professionals who lift make more money.
This might be because exercise builds confidence and self-worth. Of course, it also enhances appearance, which is known to correlate with wealth and professional success.
#9: Better Hormone Balance & Less Stress
Building muscle balances stress hormones such as cortisol. This is important for any women interested in losing body fat or staying lean since the process of losing fat is inherently stressful.
Most women fixate on fat loss. This anxiety about food and body fat makes the body feel threatened, leading to an increase in cortisol. Training for muscle helps you avoid this mess: You’ll have lower cortisol, better insulin sensitivity, and higher levels of fat burring hormones like growth hormone.
#10: Less Back Pain & Better Posture
Building muscle will help you develop better body awareness so that you keep you head in line with your spine (not sticking forward), and your movement patterns will be smoother.
A strong lower back and core will help you stand up tall, keep your abdomen tight, and avoid back pain. A stronger upper back will give you the ability to roll your shoulders back by retracting your shoulder blades.
You’ll look and feel more confident, and people will have more respect for you.
#11: You’ll Age Better & Live Longer
Study after study shows that women who have more muscle mass will live longer.
A related bonus is that by getting strong, lean, and muscular at a young age, you’ll avoid what is being called sarcopenic-obesity, or being overweight and having low muscle mass when you are old. Although it’s unclear whether older people gain fat first or lose muscle first, these two physiological actions go hand in hand.
Final Words: Training for muscle helps you be a champion for the health and well-being of all women to overcome the far-reaching stereotypes and misconceptions that limit women’s ability to get useful advice about how to improve their physiques. Spread the word!