Women often neglect strength training because they are afraid of getting bulky and looking mannish. This is most often a myth and misconception. Truth is, most women do not have the genetics and natural testosterone levels to support bulky muscle growth.
“Then why do I look bulky?”
Women often complain about getting bulky after one training session. This is often because most women train in such ridiculous high volume which is over 15 repetitions. Training in high volume like this causes more fluid retention in the muscles, called Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The falsely inflated pump doesn’t completely de-swell over night.
Combine this with a lifestyle of eating high carbs and chocolate, and you’ll have excess water retention because of the increase in muscle glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen stored in human muscle holds at least 3 grams of water. Source
What you should be looking to do is build myofibrillar hypertrophy and strength, to prevent a “fluffy” look. Myofribillar hypertrophy is usually around the 4-10 rep range.
If you want to drastically lose weight the first week, try a ketogenic diet.
“Are you sure I’m not going to bulk up?”
I repeat. Women do not have the testosterone to support massive muscle growth.
In this study, strength training helps women release the growth hormone—not as much testosterone as men—and the growth hormone has many benefits, such as tissue repair and feeling good while increasing bone density.
Side note: I had an ex- girlfriend who could back squat 225 pounds, with proper form, and her legs were nowhere near bulky as mine.
Workouts for Women
I recommend women train in the 8-15 repetitions range. When you start lifting in the heavy and low rep range, 1-4 reps, your form starts to loosen up and there is a risk of injury. I prefer to keep you in the higher repetition of 8 reps so you won’t have to worry about losing form.
Women can work out at home with resistance bands or follow gym workout routines for women with short rest in between sets, which I call micro rest periods.
Even though this study was performed on men, it suggests that shorter rest periods have an increase in growth hormone levels. With longer rest periods of 120 seconds and above, there is an increase in testosterone. This increase in testosterone is not ideal for women, which is why I recommend women with an at home workout program or gym program to keep their rest periods short and brief.
Women get a bonus with home workouts, because of the convenience (and you don’t have to worry about meatheads at the gym).
If you love the gym, then you can do the same micro rest periods, but I would recommend keeping it between 30-60 rest periods for an increase in growth hormone levels.
Strength training in the gym or at home does NOT make you bulky and mannish. Now go hit the gym or the resistance bands without the fear!
And if you need help with your home workout routine, you can take the Body Designer Tool to guide you to the just-right training program for you.