Girls with Muscle Strength: What We Can Learn from Muscular Women

Do Muscular Women Know Something We Don’t? What You Need to Know about Girls with Muscle Strength

When the media paints this image of women looking “unfeminine” it creates the illusion that girls with muscle strength are not attractive. Whether you're scrolling through a social media app or reading a fitness magazine, you're bound to find a muscular woman living her best life.

Why is it so shocking?

After all, there’s absolutely nothing unnatural or unhealthy about a strong, muscular, and not to mention, confident woman! 

Throughout this article, we will explore the truth behind muscular women by debunking common weightlifting myths, why it can be difficult for some women to gain muscle, and why it’s so beneficial for every woman to consider opting for a strength-based exercise routine throughout their lifetime. 

Follow along to find out more. 

Debunking Myths about Muscular Women

Before we jump straight to the good stuff, it’s important to address the classic myths that many people believe about training to be a muscular woman, weightlifting, and more. 

Myth #1: Lifting weights will make you “bulk up” 

Thanks to the many ads and online photos circulating on our social media about women who weightlift, there may be a ton of misconceptions regarding how weights can change physique. 

The truth is, while weight lifting can build strength, it’s unlikely to cause our muscles to “bulk up” as we see with men. Unlike men, women have a challenging time gaining muscle mass through strength training alone based on the difference in testosterone levels. Compared to women, men have four- to fivefold high levels of testosterone, making it much easier to grow tissue and build muscle [1]. 

The girls with muscles we see on Instagram or other social media news platforms come from a blend of genetics, diet routine, and training load to help them achieve the results they wanted. 

Myth #2: Weight lifting doesn’t burn fat 

For most women, cardio may seem like the fast track method towards weight loss. While aerobic-style training is certainly beneficial, it’s not the best way to burn fat! 

When we expend energy in the gym through a moderate-to-intense weight lifting session, our bodies expend far more energy compared to cardio alone. The best part is that this calorie-burning process continues for hours after you leave the gym. 

Myth #3: Women shouldn’t train like men 

Did you know that there is no single exercise that is inherently masculine or feminine? Deadlifts, goblet squats, lateral raises, and bench presses all have one thing in common: they’re meant to train a specific set of muscles to tone, strengthen, or build muscles. 

Since men and women have all the same muscles, we can treat a weightlifting session the same. Depending on your fitness goals, it’s up to you to choose what your workout routine looks like. For example, if your goal is to look and feel strong, then the exercise options are endless!

Why It’s Important for Women to Build Muscles

muscular women

When it comes to building strong muscles, women are just as capable as men to reap the long-term physical and mental health benefits. Giving your dedicated time to a consistent lifting routine can offer both immediate and lifelong results that will make you look and feel great. 

Here are some of the top reasons why muscular women have an advantage in the game of life. 

Injury Prevention 

Weight lifting is an essential tool for injury prevention for plenty of reasons. When we build strength in our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, we are more likely to protect our joints during movement or with impact. 

As women reach menopause, they are at a considerably higher risk of injury due to the natural progression of bone loss. Engaging in consistent strength training is one way to combat this [2]. Other important details to consider are diet, supplementation, and abstaining from smoking to help build and maintain strong bones.  

Combat Age-Related Muscle Loss

Sarcopenia refers to the age-related muscle degeneration that happens after the age of 50. After this age, both men and women lose nearly 3% of their muscle strength every year [3].

Unfortunately for us women, our muscles tend to deteriorate at a much faster rate than men’s. Since most men have more muscle on their bodies naturally, they can afford to lose some throughout their lives whereas women cannot. 

Strength training throughout the years is one of the best methods for combating age-related muscle loss. Not only is it an excellent way to meet your many fitness goals, but it is also something that women can pick up at any point in their lives. 

Help Make Everyday Life Easier

A great measure of your level of physical activity is the extent to which you can successfully do life comfortably. When we lift weights, we are enhancing our physical strength, endurance, and power which all contribute to helping us take on our tasks of daily living with ease. 

Women who engage in resistance training are less likely to need help with everyday tasks and are more willing to maintain their independence as they age.  

Minimize Pain

Among the different pain-causes diseases, osteoarthritis is one of the most prominent in aging women. In fact, recent data has reported that roughly 23.5% of women are affected by arthritis at some point in their lives, causing them to experience extreme swelling, pain, and stiffness in one or more joints [4]. 

Weight lifting is proven to ease pain caused by arthritis by strengthening the surrounding muscles to improve function, protect the joint from injury, and possibly even minimize swelling  [5]. 

Not to mention, weight training also plays a positive role in strengthening back and core muscles, which both improve posture and balance. 

Increase Confidence  

One of the best ways to boost confidence is through strength training. So many women struggle with body image issues. In extreme cases, the development of anxiety, depression, and even eating disorders can wreak havoc on our well-being. 

When we look and feel our best, we are more likely to be more forgiving, kind, and positive to ourselves and the world around us. Engaging in a consistent weight lifting routine is shown to significantly enhance women’s self-esteem leading to greater self-love and overall life satisfaction [6]. 

Why Building Muscles May Be Difficult for Some Women

We know that building strong muscles is a good thing, so why is it so difficult for some women to achieve this?

As mentioned earlier, testosterone is a fundamental building block to growing muscles. Through its interaction with neurotransmitters and nuclear receptors within our DNA, testosterone plays an important role in increasing muscle protein synthesis when we exercise  [7]. 

Unfortunately for women, having lower levels of testosterone makes it more difficult to grow and maintain muscle tissue. For this reason, women must put in a little extra work at the gym to build their muscles. 

How to Build Muscles as a Woman

One thing all girls with muscle strength have in common is their ability to remain patient, consistent, and dedicated to their fitness goals.

Whether you're just starting out or have been training your entire life, the fundamentals of building muscles are very similar. Beginning by hitting the weights, you'll want to include a wide range of exercises that work large muscle groups (i.e. push-ups, rows, squats, deadlifts, lunges, chest press, etc.). Start light and load progressively over time.

For hypertrophy training (muscle building), it's recommended to include 1-3 sets per exercise with 8-12 repetitions [8]. Remember to prioritize proper form above all else.

More Options for Women Looking to Build Muscles

Outside the gym, there are plenty more options to help you overcome the barriers of building muscle mass to get you closer to your fitness goals. 

Examples include: 

  • Eating more protein (American College of Sports Medicine recommends consuming 1.2 - 1.7g of protein per kg body weight per day)

  • Incorporating beneficial muscle-building supplements (i.e. creatine, zinc magnesium aspartate, branched-chain amino acids, and arginine)

  • Getting adequate rest between each set and workout 

  • Surrounding yourself with more beneficial forms of information to help align yourself with your goals more productively (i.e. follow content pages with photos featured of realistic women, delete or un-follow unhealthy ideas of “muscular women”, or sign up to receive newsletters with helpful tips)

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