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Women and Muscle Development

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -

Many women think that their muscles will get too big if they train with weights, while others believe that muscle-building exercises don’t provide the expected results in the female body.

Given that women don’t have the same muscle structure as men, is it possible that they can gain muscle mass?

Testosterone and genetics

Testosterone, a hormone found in large amounts in men and much smaller amounts in women, is one of the components needed to build muscle mass.  Women that are interested in body building and have lifted weights for a few months without achieving the expected results could become disappointed and think that it is not possible to gain the muscle mass they would like.  Although testosterone does play an important role in building muscle, it is not the only determining factor. Genetics has a lot to do with a person’s ability to build muscle.

Every person has a different genetic makeup and, therefore, each body reacts differently to exercise. Genetics determines the distribution of muscle and type of muscle fibers that make up your body. Genetics also determines the testosterone-estrogen (female hormone) ratio, the body fat distribution, and your body type.

What’s your body type?

There are three main body types, and every woman has a specific body type or a combination of the three:

  • Mesomorph: muscular bodies that can increase the size of their muscles more rapidly than the other types.
  • Endomorph: more rounded bodies; people with this body type usually need to lose weight to be able to notice the results of weight training.
  • Ectomorph: very thin bodies; people with this body type usually become stronger when they lift weights on a regular basis, but the results are not obvious in terms of the size of their muscles.

Would you like to look stronger?

If you are interested in body building, or just want to look more muscular or be stronger, you will have to lift weights and do endurance exercise. To develop your muscles, you’ll have to lift more weight and do fewer repetitions. To increase your endurance, use lighter weights and do more repetitions.

No matter what your goal is, you’ll be able to attain it more easily if you understand and accept your body type. Don’t feel guilty and don’t compare your figure with that of other women you see in magazines, on the street, or at the gym, because their body type may be very different from yours.

Pay attention to the way exercise makes you feel and don’t concentrate so much on how your body looks. Enjoy feeling stronger and full of energy thanks to exercise, and that stamina will show in everything you do.

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity of MyDiet™


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