Strength training offers many different benefits. Whether you are a man or a woman, building muscle is important for everyone.
Why you should build muscle as a woman, what effects it has and whether you need to be afraid of getting too muscular, is explained in this article.
There are many great methods to burn fat and lose weight. These range from various diets such as low carb to countless types of sports such as running. However, most of these methods only provide fat loss. So, if you only do cardio, you will just burn fat, but you won't really be able to tone your whole body.
However, the goal of many women is a defined and toned body. If such a look is also your goal, you should definitely do strength training. Through strength training you burn calories and build muscle. More muscles tighten your tissue and lead to an increased basal metabolic rate. As a result, you burn even more fat. So, you have a two-fold positive effect: a more toned body through fat loss and a muscle building effect.
In addition to strength training, a calorie deficit is necessary to lose weight. For more on this, read our article Strength training for fat loss.
Cellulite concerns many women. Cellulite is noticeable as slight waves, elevations or even distinct dents in the surface of the skin.
In order to understand how such dimples develop in the first place, it is important to know the structure of your skin.
Your skin consists of three layers:
- Upper skin (epidermis)
- Leather skin (dermis)
- Lower skin (subcutis)
Fat cells are stored in the lowest layer. These are held in place by connective tissue fibers or collagen fibers. While the fibers tend to run crosswise in men, they run parallel in women. However, this also allows the fat cells to expand more easily. So, when the connective tissue can no longer hold the fat cells in the lower skin, they press against the upper skin and dimples appear.
To reduce cellulite, you should gain muscle. This will boost your fat burning and reduce your risk of cellulite by lowering your body fat percentage.
Furthermore, muscles tighten your skin. This prevents dents in the skin surface and fat cells can no longer expand well.
Numerous studies show that women suffer from depression much more often than men. Regardless of gender, however, strength training can combat depression.
In a study by Cunha et al. (2021), 48 women (60-74 years old) did strength training for 12 weeks. The goal of the study was to find out if exercise helps fight depression. The results showed quite clearly that doing strength training can relieve the symptoms. So, if you suffer from depression, exercising is recommended.
To fight depression, you should also seek out professional help.
By gaining muscle, you are definitely building better self-confidence. It's not just the visual improvements that make you happier and more satisfied. Rather, it is the overall interaction of various factors.
During and after training, your body releases certain hormones that positively influence your mood. These include the so-called happiness hormones. Furthermore, you build strength. Apart from physical strength, you also build mental strength. Training gives you more discipline, focus and stamina. This provides a real boost to your self-confidence.
Prevent injury and pain
Cruciate ligament tear
It is scientifically proven that women are more often affected by cruciate ligament tears than men. The reason for this may be differences in anatomy, muscle strength or hormonal influences. But you can also prevent these injuries with targeted muscle building. A cruciate ligament tear is often the result of an abrupt change of direction, which often ends painfully due to muscular deficits.
These deficits must be compensated for. In particular, you should avoid a deficit in your front and rear thigh muscles.
To prevent a cruciate ligament tear, you should do strength training. This will provide stability for the surrounding muscles.
Bone density decreases naturally with age. Osteoporosis is the term used to describe a pathological decrease in this density. Bone loss tends to start earlier in women than in men. Furthermore, women also tend to experience a faster reduction in bone density.
However, you can counteract this process with strength training. Training promotes the buildup of bone density. This means that you reduce the decrease or even increase the density. This is especially important for women because of the higher risk of osteoporosis.
Many women complain about back pain. Primarily due to anatomy and hormones, women are more prone to back pain.
Namely, the hormone estrogen can loosen the ligaments in your lumbar region. Furthermore, women usually have a smaller rib cage than men and a larger abdomen. The reason for this could be evolutionary. A longer lumbar region is an advantage during pregnancy. The problem, however, is that your lumbar vertebrae are subjected to much greater stress even when you are not pregnant.
The conditions of pregnancy thus lead to reduced stability of your spine and joints. This, in turn, can lead to overuse and thus back pain. For this reason, well-developed abdominal and back muscles are enormously important for you. Muscles stabilize your body and counteract overload. In addition, you correct imbalances by gaining muscle, which can also alleviate your back pain or even free you from pain completely.
Less menstrual cramps
If you have menstrual cramps, strength training can help relieve pain. Even light workouts can loosen your muscles and thus relieve your pain.
Furthermore, training promotes blood circulation. This can also have a positive effect during your period.
Very often you hear women say that they don't want to work out and build muscle, because they "don't want to look manly" or too muscular. If this sounds familiar, you can rest assured. You don't have to be afraid of gaining muscle!
Various factors ensure that you cannot gain as much muscle as a man. In principle, the female body is not designed to have large muscle mass. So you can train hard without further concern. After all, as you now know, your muscles bring many advantages.
For more on this, read our article Why you should do strength training.
Hormonally, women can't gain as much muscle as men. It is true that you, like any other person, have both androgens (male sex hormones) and estrogens (female sex hormones).
However, your body produces much less androgens than a man's. This means that due to the lower levels of testosterone in your body, you won't be able to build as much muscle mass as a man and won't have to worry about it.
Also, unless you are using hormonal contraception, the amount of muscle you build is affected by your menstrual cycle. During menstruation, your body produces some female sex hormones. Progesterone is one of them. These hormones have a catabolic effect and make it difficult for you to build muscle.
Another difference, which prevents you from getting too muscular, is the difference in muscle fiber distribution between men and women. Basically, we distinguish between type 1 (aerobic) and type 2 (anaerobic) muscle fibers.
Type 1 muscle fibers are the "endurance muscle fibers" and have a much lower hypertrophy potential than type 2 muscle fibers. Women have a much higher percentage of type 1 muscle fibers and therefore much lower muscle building potential.
Also, anatomically, some factors prevent you from getting too muscular.
On average, women are smaller and lighter than men. Due to their anatomy, women tend to have less upper body strength. Your body's center of gravity is shifted further down. That's why most women find exercises like push-ups or pull-ups more difficult. In addition, you should quickly notice that you have significantly smaller shoulders than a man. This means that your overhead strength is lower and you can generate less power from your shoulders than a man.
Compared to the upper body, however, you have a stronger hip area. The reason for this is a wider pelvis, which is evolutionarily conducive to child birth. Because of this, you can become much stronger in the lower body than in the upper body. Nevertheless, you should not neglect upper body training.
In general, men have a naturally more muscular body. Women, on the other hand, have a higher percentage of fat tissue.
Don't be afraid of getting to muscular! You cannot grow too much muscle naturally due to hormonal and anatomical reasons.
Especially for women muscle building is very important. You look better and burn more fat. In addition, you can reduce or prevent cellulite by building muscle.
Through training you can increase your self-confidence. You do something good for your mind and can even fight depression.
In addition, you can avoid injury and the pain that comes with it. Especially as a woman you are more susceptible to cruciate ligament tears, osteoporosis and back pain. Your muscles can counteract all of these if you exercise regularly.
Furthermore, you can relieve your menstrual cramps.
You don't have to be afraid of getting too muscular. You cannot gain as much muscle as a man due to natural factors. On the contrary, heavy training will make you look better and not manly.
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