How many women do you know, avoid taking protein supplements and lifting heavy weights because they’re scared it will make them the next Arnie?
It’s a shame because these things can be some of the best things that women can do to be healthy, balance their hormones, improve bone density, reduce body fat percentage, etc…
...just take Meg Gallagher, the world-reknowned powerlifter in our featured image, as an example. Meg trains incredibly hard and uses supplementation but that's only served to accentuate her figure, not eliminate it!
So, let’s talk about why women should do both of these things to achieve and maintain that feminine shape!
1. Estrogen vs Testosterone
Testosterone is one of the most crucial hormones for muscle development (along with human growth hormone), repair and growth. Because of the genetic difference between men and women, and the large variance between testosterone levels, women can’t physiologically ‘bulk up’ like men.
Men have around 20 times more testosterone than women, which enables them to have much more distinct male characteristics. Obviously, between each gender, these hormone levels will always vary. Some women will have higher levels of testosterone compared to other women, and the same goes for men.
The levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are predominantly ‘female’ hormones, play a big antagonist role, as well. This also explains why some men, if they have a high body fat percentage (which raises estrogen levels) or higher estrogen for a different reason, can look more and more ‘feminine’ in their body shape as the estrogen levels rise. This goes for females too. So, the leaner someone gets, the lower they will drop their overall estrogen levels.
While lifting heavy does increase serum testosterone levels, women simply won’t produce enough to make them as ‘big’ as men. Of course, there are women who make athleticism or body building their professional focus, and through hours of specific work each day, supplements, and perhaps some anabolic assistance, their shape may become very muscular and lean. However, for women, in order to reach this point, you have to be incredibly purposeful with your goal to achieve this. It doesn’t come easily!
As we age, we need to build as much muscle as we can, and train to preserve bone density and overall functionality. Every part of health is benefitted by lifting heavy weights, resistance training and strength training.
2. Protein Supplements
So, the next concern a lot of women have is regarding protein supplementation. Again, the fear is that taking protein or muscle-encouraging supplements, will cause a female to ‘bulk up’.
Supplementing with protein, glutamine, BCAAs, creatine or natural ergogenic aids will help a woman to become stronger, leaner, reduce cravings, building healthy muscle mass, reduce fat percentage, have more energy and confidence, feel more mentally stable, balance hormones, etc… But, it will not create a physiological state within the body that makes you ‘manly’.
Protein is one of the most abundant nutrients in the body, and having enough of it is absolutely vital for health. Women who choose to have overall low protein in their diet will inevitably overeat on carbohydrates, sugars, or unhealthy fats, and struggle more hormonally, and with their body fat percentage and cravings.
Because these types of supplements, as mentioned above, help with recovery and performance, women who take them are able to physically do more. They will avoid muscle pain, stiffness and DOMS, and will have much greater results from working out.
The major concern for women is wanting to ‘tone up’. This comes down to DIET as number one, and training as number two. All the training in the world won’t correct a poor diet, and what you put in your mouth does determine your physiology and genetic expression.
So, if you are wanting to simply ‘tone up’, or if you are wanting to pursue more athletic performance, ensuring you have good supplements will help you immensely. If you’re working really hard, but not recovering properly, then your efforts will go to waste.
While a lot of women may fear that they will bulk up like men if they lift heavy weights and take muscle-building supplements, this is not possible for the general population. Because men have around 20 times more testosterone than women, and different genetic interaction, women can’t physiologically match a man’s ability to build muscle.
Some women purposefully work to max out their muscle building capabilities for bodybuilding or athletic reasons, but they may also use testosterone boosting techniques or supplements (anabolic aids). Even then, the top 10% of the strongest women can only compete with the lowest 10% of strongest men.
Women’s estrogen levels and the use of progesterone will always allow for greater feminine characteristics, and act as an antagonist to testosterone production. Supplementing with protein, glutamine, creatine, BCAAs or herbal/natural ergogenic aids will only allow a woman to become leaner and stronger, and amplify the training efforts. – Not make you a She-Hulk!