Regardless of the biological gender, strength training is a fundamental part of a person's fitness.
Many people, specifically women, tend to shy away from weightlifting because they fear that they will end up looking too bulky. However, building muscle through strength training can actually help women improve their health and achieve the toned look they desire.
As a personal trainer, it's part of my daily routines to help my female clients understand the benefits of muscle and how to build lean muscle mass to achieve their goals.
Building muscle can offer several benefits to your clients, including a higher metabolic rate, a more shapely physique, and stronger bones. Contrary to popular belief, it's actually quite difficult for women to bulk up from lifting weights unless they make a conscious effort to do so.
On the other hand, it can be more difficult for a woman to build muscle in the gym due to a combination of hormonal and genetic factors. However, with consistent training and a proper diet, women can gain muscle mass relatively easily and make great improvements.
Before we get started with the mini guide on “how to build muscle as a woman”, let's review the benefits of strength training and debunk the myths about women and strength training.
Benefits of strength training in women
The main benefits that stand out in women who train strength include:
They have balanced metabolism and weight
Building muscle increases muscles mass. Muscle burns calories (even when you are resting). Therefore, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. And here is when the magic happens: you will burn fat and lose weight faster because your metabolism will be faster.
Muscle tissue requires more calories to sustain itself compared to fat tissue, meaning that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn throughout the day, even during periods of rest or low-intensity activity.
On the other hand, faster metabolism due to muscle mass allows consuming more calories without gaining weight. This can be beneficial for those who struggle with restrictive diets or constantly feel hungry while trying to lose weight.
Turn your body into a fat-burning machine by increasing your muscle mass. Research has shown that for every pound of muscle gained, the body burns an additional 6-10 calories per day at rest.
They have better bone health
Strong, healthy bones are crucial for overall health and wellness. Strength training is one of the best things to increase bone density. Just like muscles, the stress from lifting weights placed on the bones helps them grow and strengthen. This is similar to how weight training helps build muscle: the extra stress placed on the muscles results in the body building more muscle tissue.
Incorporating lifting exercises, such as lifting weights, into a fitness routine can be highly beneficial for your bone health.
Research has shown that weight training can not only help increase bone density, but can also slow down bone loss in older individuals. Remember that bone loss due to age can lead to osteoporosis, which weakens bones and makes them more prone to fractures.
However, it's important to work with a qualified personal trainer who can design a program tailored to your needs. Proper form, technique, and progression are essential to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Besides, regular strength training can improve physical performance, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of injury.
In my personal experience
One of my clients came to me with bad posture and a pancake booty. Thanks to specially selected exercises, we were able to improve her posture and get rid of his back pain. And also strengthen the lumbar region due to the increase in the gluteal muscle. It also helped her balance her body proportions.
They have better posture, balance and body shape
Strength training improves posture and balance, but it also can help shape the body since building muscle in targeted areas can help create a more defined body.
Everyone's body is unique, and results will vary depending on individual factors such as genetics or eating habits. But with consistent effort and a focus on proper nutrition, clients can expect to see positive changes in their body shape and composition over time.
In my personal experience
One of my clients has a very stressful job. Thanks to the strengthen training, she relieves her stress and has improved the quality of her sleep since our first training session.
They are mentally stronger
Strength training not only improves physical health, but also provides significant mental health benefits. When we engage in strength training, our bodies release endorphins, which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and well-being, leading to a reduction in stress and anxiety levels. The release of endorphins during strength training also helps to improve your mood.
In my personal experience
One of my clients has been exercising regularly 3 times a week for two years, has a very lean body build and has been embarrassed about it for a long time. Changed her figure and gained more confidence not only in clothes, but also in a bikini on the beach.
Additionally, strength training can increase self-confidence as clients start seeing the progress they make in their workouts, such as lifting heavier weights or performing more repetitions. Achieving these milestones can be very empowering and lead to a boost in self-esteem and confidence.
Moreover, the process of strength training can serve as a form of meditation or mindfulness practice, allowing people to focus solely on their movements and the physical sensations associated with them. This mindfulness can promote a sense of relax and reducing stress.
How to gain muscle as a woman
As a personal trainer, there are several ways that I can help female clients gain muscle:
Having a customized workout plan
Developing a customized workout plan is the first step on your way to gain muscle.
A personalized workout plan is more effective than a generic program because it takes into account each individual unique circumstances, such as any injuries, medical conditions, or limitations they may have.
The plan may include a combination of resistance training, weightlifting, and cardio exercises that are designed to help you build muscle mass, burn fat, and improve their overall fitness. It is a dynamic document that may change over time, as you progress and reach your fitness goals.
It's important to note that a customized workout plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Likewise, it requires an initial assessment for your level (including flexibility, endurance, etc.) This information is key to design a workout plan that is challenging yet achievable, with clear and measurable goals to track progress.
From my point of view
As a personal trainer, I like to update training plans every month because it helps me and my clients to keep on track and motivated to reach our goals.
Regular planning review helps us to ensure we're focusing on the right things, and they are progressing towards their goals. This keeps them accountable and allows me to adjust their plan if they don't see the progress they want or if we need to adjust their approach.
Reviewing and updating the plan each month also helps ensure that they stay on top of their training and make the most of their time. It also helps to avoid adapting the body to a specific plan and avoid a plateau.
Focusing on progressive overload
To stimulate muscle growth, I encourage my clients to gradually increase the weight they lift or the number of reps they perform over time. This approach, known as progressive overload, helps to challenge their muscles and push them to adapt and grow. And this is one of the reasons why I update my client’s personal workout plans.
Progressive overload is a fundamental principle of strength training that involves gradually increasing the stress placed on the body in order to stimulate muscle growth and improve physical fitness. The idea is to challenge the muscles to adapt to a higher level of stress over time, in order to keep making progress.
There are different ways to apply progressive overload, such as increasing the weight lifted, the number of repetitions performed, the number of sets completed, or the intensity of the exercise. The key is to make gradual, consistent increases in these variables, rather than trying to make large jumps in weight or volume that could lead to injury or burnout.
Reminder: It's important to balance progressive overload with recovery time and rest days. Overtraining or pushing the body too hard without adequate rest can lead to injury or burnout.
Obsessing with proper technique and good posture
Maintaining proper posture while lifting weights is essential for maximizing muscle gains and preventing injury. Good posture helps ensure that the intended muscle groups are properly targeted during exercises, while also reducing the likelihood of pain.
When lifting weights, it's important to focus on maintaining a neutral spine and keeping the shoulders and hips aligned. This can help to evenly distribute the weight throughout the body and reduce the risk of injury. It's also important to engage the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back muscles, to help stabilize the spine and support proper posture.
Additionally, poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances, where certain muscles become overdeveloped while others become weak or underdeveloped. This can limit progress in strength training and increase the risk of injury or pain.
To avoid injury and maximize the benefits of each exercise, I make sure my clients understand the proper form and technique for each exercise they perform. This includes demonstrating the exercise and correcting any mistakes.
Remember: Behind a good technique, there is:
- A proper posture at all times (to avoid injury).
- Controlled movements, avoiding abrupt actions.
- Conscious breathing, adjusted to the exercises.
Building muscle requires a combination of exercise and proper nutrition.
Emphasizing nutrition is essential when it comes to building muscle, since nutrients provide you with the fuel and materials needed to repair and grow muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Exercise alone is not enough to grow muscles; the body also requires proper nutrition to support muscle development.
A balanced diet that includes adequate protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals will help improve physical performance and speed muscle recovery. This will help you gain muscle faster and better. That's why it's important to include a variety of foods from each food group in a balanced diet to perform on a daily basis and avoid a lack of essential nutrients.
Proper hydration is also vital for maintaining optimal physical performance and preventing muscle cramps and injury.
As well as being a crucial part of muscle building, it is also the most challenging. It's best to get a specialist's opinion.
A nutritionist can help you establish a balanced diet that is tailored to your individual needs and provide you with a personalised assessment and plan. And, of course, it will help you prevent potential health problems and imbalances or bad practices.
Read here what a nutritionist can do for you!
Finally, monitoring progress is crucial for achieving long-term success and also maintaining the motivation and commitment. By tracking progress it is possible to make adjustments to the workout plan, such as modifying exercise selection, intensity, volume, or frequency, etc., and diet as needed.
Besides, monitoring progress help identify any barriers or obstacles and develop strategies to overcome them. But also to celebrate milestones in order to keep motivation.
If you're looking to gain muscle and improve your overall health and fitness, hiring a qualified personal trainer can make all the difference. As a personal trainer with extensive experience in strength training for women, I can design a customized workout plan tailored to your unique needs and goals. With my guidance and support, you can achieve your fitness goals and become stronger, healthier, and more confident.
If you're based in Zurich and looking for a personal trainer who can help you build muscle, improve your posture and balance, and boost your overall fitness, I invite you to reach out to me. Together, we can create a personalized plan that will help you achieve your fitness goals and live your best life.