Most women desire the same type of body. They want to be lean but not too skinny. They want to have some muscle definition, particularly in their arms, stomach, and legs. And they want to have a bubble butt that fills their jeans. And, amen! I’m all for that. To achieve this physique, the average woman needs to lose fat and add some muscle. Just losing the fat wouldn’t be enough as most women lack the muscle that gives an athletic look (leaving them with the common skinny-fat body type).
MYTH: WOMEN SHOULD TRAIN DIFFERENTLY THAN MEN
What is the best way to achieve these goals?
Conventional “wisdom” has women grinding away on the treadmill every day and working out with three-pound dumbbells. I’ve yet to see a woman achieve a fitness model physique by doing that. Achieving a lean, athletic look takes nothing more than having a good amount of muscle and low body fat percentage. Reducing body fat percentage is mainly a function of diet, but what’s the best way to build muscle?
Lifting weights, of course. And you’re probably not surprised that I recommend heavyweights. I can already hear you disagree. Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights because they don’t want to get bulky, right? Wrong. It’s incredibly difficult for a woman to ever reach the point of looking bulky, regardless of how hard or often she trains. The hormone that most directly regulates muscle growth is testosterone, and an average woman’s testosterone levels are a mere 5–10% of an average man’s.
In one study, post-exercise testosterone levels were 45 times higher in men than in women. This isn’t surprising when you consider that research has shown that resistance training doesn’t even increase testosterone levels in women—only growth hormone, estradiol (a type of estrogen), and cortisol.
If you’re a woman, I PROMISE you that you will never wake up one day disgusted with your bulky physique if you lift heavy weights (heavy for YOU, but light for weightlifting guys) and stay lean. Getting to the point of having large, protruding muscles is a very gradual, grueling process that you would have to consciously work at every day, and it would take years.
BENEFITS OF BUILDING MUSCLE
If you’re a woman and you’re still not quite sold on weightlifting yet, these health benefits of building your muscles, as discussed in a study conducted by the University of Texas, will change your mind::
- Your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer are significantly reduced.
- Your bones become stronger.
- Your metabolism speeds up because muscle, even when idle, burns energy. This makes it easier to stay lean.
- Your life expectancy increases.
- Your immune system becomes stronger.
And what about your physique? Well, gaining muscle does wonders for that too. Strong, well-developed muscles are what give women the curves they love. Nothing improves your image more in and out of your clothes than lean, defined muscles. If all that isn’t enough, then you should also know that maintaining a strong, well-muscled body helps you age better.
Research has shown that greater muscle mass percentage in older women is associated with better mobility, lower body weight, and lower body fat levels. Now, what qualifies as heavy weight for a woman?
The weight that is heavy enough to limit you to 8–10 repetitions. Lifting heavy weights (relative to your strength, of course) is just the fastest way to change your physique.
If you’re a woman and you want to be toned, sexy legs and around,
tight butt, then you can’t beat an intense workout of “boy exercises”
such as barbell squats, Romanian deadlifts, and barbell lunges.
If you want sleek, defined arms, the quickest way to get there is by going heavy on exercises like dumbbell curls, straight-bar curls, and EZ-bar curls. Women, it’s time to put down the pink play weights and get sexy by lifting with the guys! (They’ll find it pretty hot, too.)