THE MYTH OF BUILDING MUSCLE IN WOMEN OVERNIGHT
THE MOST COMMON QUESTION/WORRY/COMMENT I get from new female clients is: Will I bulk up? or I don't want to bulk up or I build muscle really easy and don't want to get too big.
I have to admit these comments and concerns drive me crazy because they are 100% untrue. It's this great myth that follows women around like an ugly handbag from the 70's. That's right ladies....the idea that you are going to bulk up like a body builder is false and I don't want you carrying that baggage around with you.
1. Testosterone. Women have 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men. You need testosterone to build muscle mass and unless you are sporting a Tom Selleck mustache it's not going to happen naturally (unless you train specifically to build muscle).
2. High Work Volume. This does not mean doing 3 sets of 20-30 reps. This is all about muscle hypertrophy and training the muscles in a systematic way over a long period of time. To build big muscles you must have a specific training and nutrition program that you follow religiously.
3. Heavy Weight Lifting. Big weights make you stronger not bulkier. When you lift weights over 85% of your Max* the primary stress is placed on the nervous system and not the muscles. Strength will improve by a neurological effect while not increasing the size of the muscles.
* Your maximum lift is based on the heaviest weight you can lift one time.
4. Nutrition. Most people will not follow the type of nutrition plan needed to build muscle. Only the truly devoted will eat like a bodybuilder. Women mistakenly think they are bulking up when they are actually fattening up. If you eat more calories than you are burning then you are going to gain weight. Lack of proper meal planning can also keep weight on. If you are eating 2 meals a day instead of 4-6 small meals per day your metabolism will slow and you will burn less energy.
5. Weight Training turns Fat into Muscle. Muscle and fat are two different types of tissue. You can't turn one into the other. When you start a training program and you are eating right, you will begin to "see" your muscles. This is primarily because you are losing body fat and not because you are getting bulky. Yes, you are getting stronger but at the start of a program it's because you are actually working the muscles you already have. It's not because you are creating muscle - that will happen if you stick to a program and are committed to your nutrition.
When you see women with big muscles on the covers of magazines it's likely that the women have committed to a very specific training and nutrition program. They are going to be in the gym 20+ hours per week. They aren't putting any junk food or empty calories into their bodies. They are carefully monitoring everything they eat and do throughout the day. (Sometimes magazines alter photos to make women look bigger and stronger than they really are.)
Unless you've got that much commitment and desire, you have nothing to worry about. It's true that some people are genetically inclined to have bigger muscles and most likely, they have always had them versus developing them. Again, this is a very, very small percentage of women and it's highly unlikely that you are in that percentile.
Here are a few great articles to follow up on.
Top 10 Reasons Heavy Weights Don't Bulk Up the Female Athlete
Myths of Women's Weight Training and Female Bodybuilding
Does Exercise Affect Resting Metabolism?