Whenever weight lifting comes up in conversation, it seems like women immediately start imagining themselves in bulked up Arnold Schwarzenegger form. The truth is heavy strength training won’t give you massive muscles unless you’re taking growth hormones or you’re a guy. Women’s bodies aren’t programmed to explode with muscle just because we work a little bit harder and we don’t even make enough of the right kind of hormones to ‘bulk up’ the same way as men.
One of the hormones that we lack is testosterone. If you know the effects it has on muscle growth, it’s easier to understand why women don’t get huge from weight lifting. Testosterone is a natural hormone in both men and women, but men have much more of it than we do. It’s responsible for a man’s body generating larger skeletal muscle cells and making more of them than women. Essentially, guys have a larger capacity to build muscle whereas women are pretty limited by genetics. Testosterone is also an anabolic steroid and it’s popular with bodybuilders because of how effective it is at growing bigger muscles.
Strength training for women is a slow process and it takes a lot of time to see results. Building muscle means breaking down old muscle and rebuilding it with stronger, and sometimes more muscle tissue. This process happens during weight lifting when the muscles are made to work past their capacity. Soreness, and then repair and healing occur over the next few days after training. So, if weightlifting doesn’t make you swollen like bodybuilder, what do you get from it?
Well, for starters, you’re metabolism increases. That’s because if you have the exact same amount of fat and muscle, the muscle burns more calories, even when you’re doing nothing! So, even if the number on the scale doesn’t change, you can automatically increase the number of calories you burn each day just by replacing some of your fat with muscle. Weight lifting is one of the few types of exercise that’s both aerobic and anaerobic and it’s possibly the most effective thing you can do to raise metabolic rate.
As you build up muscles that haven’t been used properly for a long time, you’re going to see changes in your body that you might think are impossible right now. Our modern lifestyle makes it easy to lose muscle mass and become weak. Weight lifting, for women, is a way to sculpt our bodies into the shape they should be and the effect can be pretty delightfully shocking.
While you’re getting stronger, you’ll probably notice that you have better posture. Lots of muscles in the shoulders, torso, and legs are meant to support and stabilize your spine. It makes sense that strengthening the rest of your body helps you stand straighter and feel more stable. Hard work will be easier too for the same reasons! Weight lifting impacts your mood too. It provides an outlet for stress release while you’re doing the actual exercise and you might even notice your overall stress level is better. After your workout, there are tons of feel-good endorphins hitting the blood stream, meaning that your hard work leaves you feeling pretty good all the rest of the time.