One of the biggest fitness trends of the last decade was the ‘Strong Not Skinny’ campaign which smashed perceptions that women were only attractive if they were stick thin. After going viral in the 2010s, this campaign still left women questioning how to be strong without getting bulky and losing their feminine qualities. Let’s explore on a deeper level how to gain muscle and be a strong female without getting bulky.
Common Misconceptions Of Bulking
In order to become bulky, as many women fear, you have to put a lot of work in. Bodybuilders spend hours everyday training and following a rigorous diet with the sole purpose of building muscle. This is why you shouldn’t worry about getting bulky just by lifting weights on their own.
Secondly, women lack enough natural testosterone to create big, bulky muscles. Whereas men have a plethora of testosterone ready to use at will, women do not as their bodies require a certain amount of estrogen and other hormones to keep their internal organs operating as they should. Most women bodybuilders with large, sculpted muscles that are considered bulky do not look like that naturally. A combination of anabolic steroids, their great genetics, and a strict training regimen gets them to where they are.
The Benefits Of Strength Training For Women
A University of Michigan study published in a 2018 issue of The Journals of Gerontology found that people with low muscle strength were more than 50 percent more likely to die prematurely than their stronger peers. Other studies have found that the average woman who weight trains 2 – 3 times per week regularly for two months will lose 3.5 pounds of fat and gain approximately 2 pounds of muscle because as lean muscle increases, your resting metabolism increases as well.
Another key finding is how your cognitive function can improve as you perform more strength training exercises. A study published in 2017 in Frontiers in Physiology showed that strength training was able to decrease inflammation and increase cognitive functions in a group of older women with cognitive impairments. Overall, this shows that no matter your age, that strength training can increase your quality of life and make everyday tasks easier to handle while also building stronger bones. This can reduce the symptoms of chronic diseases including arthritis, depression, and diabetes and help you live a more fruitful life.
Key Considerations For Strength Training
If you want to build a lean figure without getting bulky, it’s key that you aim to strength train all your major muscle groups at least twice a week while minimizing the number of sets you lift. Research has shown that as your volume of strength-training sets goes up during the week, so does your level of muscular hypertrophy. If you keep the number of sets low, your muscles will grow, but won’t get bulky unless your caloric intake is incredibly high.
If you lift lower weights at a high number of repetitions (15-20 reps) and perform fewer sets (1-2 sets), you’ll be on the right track to a lean body. If you do decide to perform multiple sets of these exercises, make sure to rest for a relatively short period between sets because that will limit muscle hypertrophy and give you the lean body that you desire.