Strength training for women - what will this do to your physique?
Updated: Jun 12
Many female clients, when asked about their goals, would like a similar type of body.
Slim, toned and shaped.
When they find out resistance training (strength training) will be key to achieve this, I often get this question - “won’t that make me super bulky?” or this response “I don’t want to get too muscly”.
Let's take an extreme physique like the one below. Whilst many women fear looking like this after resistance training, the reality is you wouldn't even come close to looking this unless:
you had the genetics of an elite bodybuilder
you had been shifting masses of weight consistently for years
in most cases have been using anabolic steroids
Now that I've explained how you won't be looking like the above anytime soon, let me explain why women don't pack on muscle anywhere near as much as men.
For starters, women are born with far less muscle mass, which already caps the amount of muscle you can put on the existing frame.
Secondly, women produce a lot less testosterone than men. Around 20x times less. Testosterone is a key player in muscle building and women simply don’t produce enough of it to pack on slabs of muscle.
Coming back to the goals of being slim, toned and shaped, resistance training is an important, even crucial way of achieving this. Now that we know these physiological factors mean you won’t end up looking like a female hulk anytime soon, we can focus on what a solid program will actually do.
Along with having a diet plan which takes important factors such as your weight, natural body type and lifestyle into consideration, following a well thought out resistance training program will help you put on lean muscle in the amounts that will bring more tone and definition to your body.
See the example below of a lady that has worked very hard on her physique, which definitely would have involved a few days of solid resistance training per week.
Here's the thing, she wouldn't have been able to attain such a "shredded" physique with just cardio and nutrition alone, instead this would lead to a physique lacking in the shape and definition most women desire. This is without going into the countless benefits of strength training, but that's for another post.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the selection of exercises and equipment for resistance training. Let’s take a look at what would happen If cardio and diet were constant, and we used 2 different forms of resistance training - heavier weights with less repetitions or lighter weights with more repetitions.
Heavier weights will force you to recruit more muscle fibers and result in the gain of slightly more muscle mass.
With lighter reps and more reps, you will generally gain less bulk, but more tone and muscular endurance. (It’s worth mentioning again, with either of these two, you won’t be putting on big chunks of muscle)
Knowing the distinction between the two is one of the many reasons why it would be wise to consult an exercise professional if you’re serious about your goals.
Training with your own bodyweight, using equipment such as a TRX suspension trainer and gymnastic rings is also a great way to sculpt, with the right diet regimen of course.
I hope this has helped clarify and that you can now approach resistance training with much less trepidation!