Having trained numerous women throughout my career I am all too familiar with the misconception of weight training giving women a masculine appearance. It is unfortunate but true, that popular belief tells women that by lifting weights you will create a muscular and unattractive physique. In recent years many fitness professionals have worked hard to dispel this myth, and more often than not have used the differences in testosterone production as the main premise of their argument. Men produce ten times the amount of testosterone as their female counterparts, and testosterone is a key factor in the development of muscle mass. As a result of this woman are often told that with out the use of exogenous testosterone supplementation the chances of adding too much muscle is very rare. This statement is fair to say in terms of looking like a bodybuilder, but is somewhat unbalanced in the grand scheme of things due to the fact women have an increased sensitivity to the affects of testosterone. As we all know weight training and muscle development does lead to increased testosterone levels. This is not me creating argument for women not to lift weights but to approach the debate from a broader perspective and give the reader reasons on why women should lift and also guidelines in which they should do it. If your goal is female fat loss then this article should definitiely be on your reading list.
The Benefits of Weight Training
Increasing the metabolic rate
By increasing muscle mass and thus optimising your body composition, one can increase their resting metabolic rate. Which means, that even in rested state the body will burn more calories than the untrained individual. This in turn will allow the subject to eat a less restrictive diet whilst maintaining an aesthetic physique.
Offeseting the loose skin issue
As many of you women and men will have experienced, loose skin can be a stubborn component in the transformation process. During any training cycle that results in a significant weight loss loose skin is a very realistic side effect. Certain parts of the body will be harder to counter than others, however the development of muscle mass is an effective tool in filling the void of fat loss. By replacing adipose tissue with muscle mass the body will take on both a harder and tighter look counteracting the space made by restrictive fat loss diet.
The number one areas of concern for the majority of my female clients tend to be too much fat on the butt and legs and of course the dreaded bingo wings. Incorporating a progressive weight training program focusing on these areas can help to develop muscle in these specific areas which in turn will add shape and definition. Spot reduction (fat loss) is not possible through isolated exercise however muscular development is and therefore should be utilised when ever possible to help optimise body composition and appearance.
Factors To Consider
Knowing Your Body Shape
As we all know we are all unique and no two bodies are identical, as a result programs and diets must be designed with this in mind. Genetic factors beyond your control mean you will fall into one of the six categories below or possibly a mixture of any two:
A Frame – Carry excess weight in lower half of the body; tend to have small waist and breasts.
V Shape – Tend to have wider shoulder girth than waist with a large chest and as a result have the appearance of narrow hips and legs.
H Frame – athletic build with large shoulders and waist, so lack the symmetry of that of an hourglass look due to disproportionate hips.
The Ruler – Somewhat equal measurements between shoulders, waist and hips giving a very narrow look.
The 8 Frame – Or also what is known as the hourglass figure. Bust and hips are equal size and waist is 10inches smaller. Said to be the ideal physique for a female and tends to be the standard requirement for models.
The Oval Frame – Large chest with skinny legs, holding excess weight in the midsection of the body.
That being said, again through weight training we can manipulate our body shape by focusing on specific areas. This could be through the addition of muscle mass to a certain body part. Or simply customising program to avoid or minimise certain body parts in your particular program. This is what will separate a good trainer from a bad one…the ability to assess someone’s physique and know how to program accordingly.
Less Isolation and more Compound
This topic is somewhat double ended due to the scientific studies that suggest complex movements produce greater levels of testosterone than isolated. However, one must look at the overriding objective and how much a certain factor will play in the ultimate outcome. Yes compounds will produce higher levels of testosterone, but isolation exercises will also tend to develop a specific muscle to a greater degree. For the majority of my female clients a fat loss weight-training program will consist of big movements and limited isolation work. This will result in greater lactate production and in turn growth hormone response, which will lead to greater fat loss. Asides from working on a particular body part for the purpose of balancing a physique, workouts will follow a whole body approach to minimise specific muscular development.
The overall purpose of this article is to show women that weight training can be of benefit to you, and is very much a component of your fat loss body transformation program. Whether your goal is to look like that of a figure girl or a runway model muscular development will be needed to some degree. It is important to realise that we cannot control the hand that god has dealt us, and some areas of our physique may not be able to look like that of our heroes/heroines. However, through the use of weight training we can sculpt and perfect our body to its maximum potential. By this I mean, we can use muscle development similar to that of a clay sculptor. Whereby we can add muscle to a certain area to create more balance in our physique and obtain muscle in certain areas to give the body firmness and shape. Use weight training to your advantage and appreciate that muscle can add feminity and beauty whilst prolonging a firm and healthy look.
This article was written by Mike Porter, Co-founder of Definitive Physique