Strength training hasn’t always been the most popular topic among women. Weight training was long considered something for men. Lucky for women, times change, and muscle strength is no longer taboo. In fact, understanding how to build muscle for women can help you prevent bone loss and injury as you age while improving your overall quality of life. Learn the truth about muscle growth in women. Plus, get an overview of the main benefits of strength training.
Muscle GROWTH Makes You Stronger – Inside and Out
As you begin your journey toward muscle growth, it’s important to remember that building muscle has many benefits for women. Not only does it boost your metabolism, which turns your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine, but it also does wonders for your self-confidence and slows muscle and bone loss. You will stand taller and feel more sure about yourself when you walk into a room. Check out the benefits of lifting weights below and start your journey to strength with our Unlock Your Strength program in the adidas Training app.
Mental Health Benefits
Many of us are already aware that cardio workouts – especially running – boost your endorphins, giving you a nice blast of happiness while reducing stress and anxiety. The great news is that strength training builds up your self-confidence even more than aerobic activity.(1) Regular strength workouts and resistance training programs improve self-esteem for adults of all genders.(2) Studies have also shown that resistance training can be an effective intervention to reduce symptoms of depression in adults.(3)
Increased Bone Density
Strength training has been shown to slow bone loss, reducing the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis. In fact, adults who do not perform any kind of resistance training may experience a 1-3% reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) every year of their lives after the age of 30. Studies have shown significant increases in bone density after 4 to 24 months of strength training.(2,4)
While regular weight training can increase bone density, which is especially important for women approaching menopause or post-menopausal women, the musculoskeletal effects are relatively site-specific and if you stop training regularly, your gains will be lost. So take a break if you need it, but make sure to restart your strength training to avoid losing the effects of all your hard work.
Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in both industrialized societies and developing countries. The number of people worldwide suffering from obesity has tripled since 1975.(5) The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is seven times higher for people with obesity compared to those with a healthy weight.
The good news is that resistance training can be an effective way to reduce the risk of developing the disease by improving glycemic control.(6) Combined with a balanced, lower glycemic diet, weightlifting, and regular cardio can reduce your blood glucose and insulin levels. How does this work? If your blood sugar is constantly elevated – either from your diet, lifestyle, stress, or all of these – your cells become less sensitive to the effect of the sugar, and you develop insulin resistance. This can then lead to systemic inflammation and other metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is also associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat in adults. By including regular higher-volume and intensity resistance training in your exercise routine, you can target the belly fat while you build muscle mass.(7)
Will weightlifting make you bulkier… or leaner?
The fact that weight lifting can cause fat loss and muscle gain can be very confusing to beginners. You may be expecting to lose weight quickly, but keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. So don’t focus on the number on the scale.
How will weightlifting affect your body?
This depends a lot on you. Three key factors influence your muscle growth. One of these is genetics, which you can’t control, but things like committing to a strength training program, staying motivated, and nutrition for muscle growth are up to you. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you prepared to lift consistently at least 2-3 times per week for at least 12 weeks? If the answer is yes, you can expect to start noticing changes in body composition after 3+ months of consistent, progressive lifting. If not, you probably won’t see much effect at all.
- Are you ready to change your nutrition during your strength training program? If you are, you should adjust it to your goal. If your goal is to gain muscle, keep reading to find out which foods speed up growth. If you are more focused on reducing body fat, increasing muscle mass helps you burn more calories, but think about your intake and create a moderate calorie deficit.
- If you are not interested in changing your diet, you will still get health benefits from lifting but have no control over the visible changes in your body. Anything is possible – you might lose fat, gain fat, gain muscle. The only thing sure is that you probably won’t lose muscle mass while lifting (as long as you are not on a severe caloric restriction, which is never recommended and would raise other health concerns).
- Are you naturally inclined to gain muscle mass? Some people gain muscle easier than others and generally have a more athletic-looking build. While there is no real science to it, body types can help you understand your genetic predisposition.
How to change body composition through training and diet
By adjusting your calorie intake to your training schedule, you can make visible changes to your body composition. Don’t worry; it’s not rocket science. Remember: it matters WHAT, WHEN, and HOW MUCH you eat.
For example, a 100kg male that wants to put on 1.5 kg of lean muscle mass in 6 weeks is advised to eat 360-480 additional calories – on training days only.(8)
Think about your goal. If your main goal is to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass or increasing it a little, try establishing a slight caloric deficit. This will give you the calories you need for recovery, plus the benefit of slow, consistent fat loss.
If your main goal is to increase lean muscle, consume more calories on your training days. Keep in mind: if you add more calories on rest days, too, you might gain more fat than muscle in the same period.
Why you shouldn’t skip cardio
It goes without saying that cardio should be part of your training routine. Workouts outdoors or on a treadmill, elliptical, or stepper are great, especially if you want to burn calories. But less fat doesn’t necessarily mean firm tissue. That is where muscle or strength training comes in.
If you are interested in achieving lasting weight loss success or improving your general health and fitness, the best way is a combination of cardio workouts, strength training, and, of course, a balanced diet.
Explore our calculators to determine how much protein you need to reach your muscle growth goals or to adjust your calorie intake for weight loss.
Now you understand the incredible benefits of lifting weights and how to adjust your diet correctly, what is holding you back? Whether you aim to build muscle, change your body composition, lose weight, or improve your long-term health, start enjoying the benefits of strength training by integrating regular weightlifting into your life.