Wednesday, January 1, 2014

For All the Ladies Out There: Want To Look More Feminine? Gain Muscle!

The whole point of weight training is to get some muscle...isn't it?! It would be like saying you are scared of getting too flexible when you start doing yoga! Ridiculous right?

The goal of lifting weights is to sculpt the body. It's the muscles that give shape to the body; the only shape fat gives is round!  Therefore, the muscles need to grow in order to get that shape that is so esthetically pleasing.

There are some women who gain muscle more easily than others, just like there are women who are more flexible than others. It's a genetic thing; but no woman will look like a female bodybuilder from simply doing weight training, even if she is genetically prone to being muscular. Female bodybuilders work extremely hard, spend hours a week training, and typically supplement with nutrients that help them build that muscle.

Would you rather be skinny fat and flabby or more lean and muscular? The skinny fat women are the ones who look good in size 2 jeans, but horrible in a bikini. The typical lean, muscular woman will fit in a size 6 or 8 because it is the only size her quads will fit into, but she will have to get the waist taken in. To whoever invented stretchy jeans, all the women who train said, "THANK YOU!!!"

The point I am trying to make is that even if you do gain muscle, it is not a bad thing. Muscle always looks better than fat. Plus, women with more muscle tend to live longer, be healthier, have stronger bones, and less risk of disease.

Muscle and Genetics
Your genetics will dictate how much muscle you will gain under certain conditions. Here's how it works: Everyone has a gene that controls a substance called myostatin in the body. When myostatin is low, we develop more muscle, but when it is high, we develop very little muscle even if we lift weights.

This means that lifting weights is not going to significantly change your body type. Yes, you'll get stronger and build some muscle, but whatever body type you have naturally will stay. You will just get rid of the flab that covers up your muscles.

For example, look at all the different body types at the Olympics. Most Olympians train with weights in addition to training for their sport. They all train hard and heavy and a lot.  They all have muscle but none of the female athletes have too much muscle so that they start to look like men.

The Muscle/Fat Relationship 

Remember this: You must first build more muscle in order to burn more fat. When you first start training, your intramuscular fat - that's fat that is stored in muscle - will get pushed out of the muscle, which may, for a short period of time, make it seem like you have actually gained fat! Stay the course, and you will eventually start burning off the fat. Your muscles will also get harder, or, as many women like to say, "more toned."

Well, guess what? To be more toned, you must have more muscle, and you must train them hard, and train them heavy! A trained muscle at rest has more tone, that is, it retains its shape more than an untrained muscle.

Let's visualize this: When you sit down, the more untrained you are, the more your leg muscles will spread out. On the other hand, a well-trained leg will not spread out. Rather, it will retain its shape and tone.

Now the other problem I would like to deal with is the misconception that if you lift heavy weights, you will get bigger. That is definitely not true. Typically, you will do fewer reps with heavy weights, which will work strength not hypertrophy, or muscle building.

So, if you can press 30 pounds, but you choose to do only 20 pounds for fear of getting bigger, then you just wasted your time. You're not overloading your muscles and they won't grow or get stronger.

You must train to failure! Those are the only sets worth doing!  In my experience, this is the number one reason many women don't get results from weight training...they consistently undertrain. Think of all the poor guys out there who train 5 to 6 times per week, who eat 400 grams of protein per day and still struggle to put on a measly 5 to 10 pounds of muscle. To all the women out there, no need to worry!

Yes, your muscles may get a teeny bit bigger, but overall, you will get smaller, feel stronger, and look better in, or out, of clothes!



Adapted from an article written by Alexandra Bernardin at 

PS. To try out our CrossFit program in North Vancouver for a free intro session visit

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