Weight training is a great way to get healthy, fit and strong. However, when it comes to gaining muscle as a woman, there are a lot of widely believed misconceptions. Maybe you think you’ll get too ‘bulky’. Perhaps you’re expecting to gain muscle at the same rate that you can lose weight. Or maybe you simply don’t know how it all works. Luckily, we have answers.
Here are a few things you need to know if you’re a woman aiming to gain muscle and tone up…
Men and women don’t have the same hormone profile
When it comes to building muscle, testosterone is a vital hormone needed to get the job done. This hormone works by sending signals to the body’s cells to release proteins that help to build muscle. However, as many people are already aware, testosterone is far more plentiful in men than it is in the average female. Naturally, this means men start off with a slight advantage when it comes to gaining muscle, and that the risk of a woman looking ‘bulky’ from weight training alone is very low. Whilst higher testosterone levels do mean faster muscle growth, this doesn’t mean that women cannot build muscle over time. It simply takes longer to get there. Which leads us to our next point…
Set realistic goals and expectations
Like any lifestyle change, you can’t expect to see immediate results when you begin lifting weights. Like we said, it usually takes women longer to gain muscle than it does for men due to our lower levels of testosterone and different hormonal profile. But don’t let this discourage you! If you start your journey with realistic expectations, you can establish a sustainable, long-term plan of action that leads you to your goals. Remember that if you put in the effort, are patient through the process and are consistent with your nutrition plan, you will see results!
Do the right training
When you’re trying to gain muscle, you should generally aim to increase your weight training and decrease your cardio work. Formulating the right training program for your particular needs and goals is essential to getting the results you want, as is an individualised meal plan. This is where your Sports Dietitian can help you determine the right approach and monitor your results.
Not only is resistance training great for muscle growth, but also for improving bone health. Studies have shown that this type of exercise can prevent or slow bone loss and even build bone in certain cases. This can be incredibly beneficial for people of all walks of life, but especially vital for the ageing community. So, no matter your age, don’t be afraid to start lifting! Speak to a professional about how it can help you achieve both your body composition and overall health goals.
Make sure you’re eating the right amount
Many women in general automatically attempt to reduce their food intake in order to achieve their body composition goals. However, when you’re trying to gain muscle this simply won’t work. You need to be eating more energy than your body is burning through (i.e. eating to an energy surplus) in order to gain muscle. It’s also important to keep in mind that unlike steady-state cardio workouts, even when you’ve put down the weights and left the gym your body is still burning energy for up to 36 hours following a resistance training session as your muscles are growing and repairing themselves.
An experienced dietitian will be able to help you determine how much of an energy surplus you will need to reach your body composition goals. They can even help you to establish the right diet filled with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy, fit and happy in the process!
Get in touch with Sunshine Coast Dietetics today to learn more about our range of services!