Hormones And Muscle Growth | Diet | Exercise | Tips For Growing Muscle | Muscle Builder For Women | FAQ | Warnings And Side Effects | References | Disclaimer
If you’re a woman looking to build muscle, you may wonder where to start. While the fitness industry has traditionally been male-dominated, more women are embracing strength training and its benefits. Building muscle can help increase strength, improve body composition, and boost overall health and well-being.
However, there is a lot of misinformation about building muscle as a woman. Some people believe that women can’t build muscle as effectively as men, while others may be unsure about the best exercises and nutrition strategies for muscle growth. Additionally, many products on the market are marketed towards women for muscle growth, such as pre-workout supplements, which can be overwhelming to navigate.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the science behind building muscle as a woman, including how hormones play a role in muscle growth, how your diet influences your progress and exercises to start incorporating into your routine. We’ll also address common questions and concerns about building muscle as a woman and provide tips on safely and effectively achieving your muscle-building goals. Whether a beginner or an experienced lifter, this guide will provide valuable information and insights to help you achieve your muscle-building goals.
Hormones And Muscle Growth:
Hormone balance is important for muscle growth, and understanding their functions can help women optimize their muscle-building potential.
Several hormones impact muscle growth, including:
- Growth hormone
Testosterone, a hormone typically associated with men, is also present in women at much lower levels. It plays a key role in building and maintaining muscle mass by increasing protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown. This can be why women tend to have a harder time building muscle compared to men.
However, don’t let this discourage you! Incorporating the right exercises and diet into your routine can increase your testosterone levels and promote muscle growth. It’s also important to note that excessive use of synthetic testosterone can have negative side effects on women’s health, including an increased risk of heart disease, liver damage, and mood changes.
Growth hormone is another hormone that is essential for muscle growth. It promotes using fat for energy, which can spare muscle tissue, and increases protein synthesis. Like testosterone, the excessive use of growth hormone is associated with negative side effects, such as joint pain and swelling.
Additionally, insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels, can also impact muscle growth. This hormone can increase protein synthesis and promote nutrient storage in muscle tissue. However, excessively high insulin levels can lead to fat storage, which may negatively impact muscle growth. Then there’s cortisol, a stress hormone that can positively and negatively affect muscle growth. In small doses, cortisol can help the body respond to physical and emotional stress, but chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to muscle breakdown and inhibit muscle growth.
Finally, estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, also plays a role in muscle growth. It reduces muscle breakdown and increases muscle repair and regeneration. However, estrogen levels can decline during menopause, impacting women’s ability to build and maintain muscle mass.
Estrogen And Muscle Growth:
Estrogen helps maintain a healthy body fat and muscle mass balance in women. It can also help reduce inflammation, aiding muscle recovery and growth. Estrogen has also been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue.
However, the relationship between estrogen and muscle growth is complex and can be influenced by various factors. For example, as women age and estrogen levels decrease, they may experience a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat.
Additionally, hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders, can also impact muscle growth. Women with these conditions may have lower estrogen levels or imbalances in other hormones that affect muscle growth. It’s also worth noting that certain medications, such as oral contraceptives, can affect estrogen levels and may impact muscle growth. However, the effects of these medications can vary from person to person.
Diet Tips For Growing Muscle:
Your diet plays a critical role in muscle growth. So when it comes to adjusting your diet to build muscle mass, there are a few things to consider.
Here are some diet tips for growing muscle:
- Eat enough protein: Good protein sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and soy products. Aiming for 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended.†
- Focus on whole foods: Whole foods provide a wide range of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, that can support muscle growth and overall health. Focus on consuming various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.†
- Time your meals: Eating frequent, small meals throughout the day can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of nutrients for muscle growth. Additionally, eating a meal or snack containing protein and carbohydrates after a workout can help promote muscle recovery and growth.†
- Hydrate: Staying hydrated is essential for overall health and supports muscle growth. †
- Be mindful of calories: Building muscle requires consuming more calories than you burn, but it’s important to avoid excessive calorie intake, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods and monitoring your calorie intake to ensure you are consuming the appropriate amount for your goals.†
Exercise Tips For Growing Muscle:
When it comes to exercises for building muscle, compound movements are the way to go. Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, target multiple muscle groups and help you build more muscle in less time.
Compound exercises can include:
- Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a great full-body exercise. Meaning it stimulants almost every major muscle in the body.
- Squats: Squating is one of the most effective exercises for overall leg muscle development and hitting other muscle groups like your abdomen.
- Lunges: Lunges are great for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
- Pull-Ups: Pull-ups are great for working on your back, biceps, and forearms. Most gyms have an assisted pull-up machine if you struggle to lift your body weight.
- Dips: Dips are really good for working the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. These can also usually be done on the assisted pull-up machine.
It’s also essential to incorporate weightlifting/ resistance training into your routine. Start with light weights and work your way up, gradually increasing the weight as you get stronger. Remember to focus on proper form and technique to avoid injury. But if you want to gain muscle, you’ll have to challenge yourself and lift heavy. Aim to incorporate at least two to three resistance training sessions per week, targeting all major muscle groups.
When deciding what weight you should lift, you should consider how many reps you can complete correctly.
Consider the following rep range during your next workout:
- 1-5 reps = Strength Gains *
- 6-12 reps = Hypertrophy Gains *
- 12+ reps = Endurance Gains *
Of course, this range is generalized, and everyone builds muscle differently. The weight may be too light if you can perform an exercise correctly for more than 12 reps. In contrast, it might be too heavy if you struggle to perform the exercise correctly for at least five reps.
Another thing to consider is your workout medium. Are you lifting with free weights or machines?
When choosing between free weights and machines, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often comes down to personal preference and fitness goals. Free weights, such as dumbbells and barbells, allow for a greater range of motion and can engage more muscle groups at once. This means that they can help improve overall strength and coordination. They also offer more versatility, as countless exercises can be performed with free weights.
On the other hand, machines are often more user-friendly and can be easier for beginners or those with limited mobility. They are also generally safer, as they guide the user through the correct range of motion and can prevent injury. Additionally, machines can help isolate specific muscle groups, making them useful for targeting specific body areas.
Tips For Growing Muscle:
Building muscle mass isn’t going to be a quick process. Keep that in mind after the newbie gains slow down. But, there are ways to get an edge on the gains.
- Form Over Ego. As awesome as it is to lift heavy weights, it’s not worth the injury. Practice safe sets, and make sure your form is great before increasing the weight.
- Warm Up. The warm-up is a low-level activity that should be completed before stretching and more strenuous exercises. The point is to raise the total body and muscle temperature to prepare the entire body for vigorous activity. Doing so will help avoid injuries.
- Work your biggest muscles. If you’re a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you’ve been lifting for a while, you’ll likely build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the back and legs.
- Perform your compound exercises first, then work on isolation exercises.
- Train your abs last or alone in a separate workout. To save time, you can also insert ab exercises between exercises for other body parts as you near the midpoint to the end of your workout.
- Clean out your pantry. If it’s not in the house, there’s less chance you’ll eat it.
- Mix up your workout routine: Your muscles can adapt to the same routine over time, so it’s important to mix things up and challenge your muscles in new ways. This can include trying new exercises, increasing your weight, or changing the number of sets and reps you’re doing.
- Use progressive overload: Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting over time. This helps to challenge your muscles and stimulate muscle growth continually.
- Be consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to muscle growth. Make sure to stick to your workout routine and nutrition plan over time, and be patient – building muscle takes time and dedication.
Muscle Builders For Women:
While a balanced diet and exercise routine are essential for building muscle, natural supplements can also play a role. As we mentioned in the dieting section, having an adequate amount of protein is essential for muscle repair. So if you struggle with getting enough protein, you can opt for a protein supplement to help get in the calories and protein.
Some popular supplements that can help promote muscle growth include:
- Creatine: This supplement can increase energy levels and promote muscle growth.†
- Beta-alanine: This supplement can increase muscle endurance and delay fatigue.†
- Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): These amino acids are essential for muscle repair and growth.†
But there are other supplements women can utilize to support their muscle growth, including:
- Evening primrose oil
- Myostatin Inhibitors
Evening Primrose Oil is a dietary supplement derived from the evening primrose plant’s seeds. It is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. This plant oil has been traditionally used for various conditions, including eczema, arthritis, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some people also use it to promote weight loss and reduce the risk of heart disease, although more research is needed to support these uses. In the context of muscle growth, Evening Primrose Oil may promote muscle recovery and reduce inflammation after exercise.†
L-Carnitine is an amino acid-like compound that plays a role in energy production in the body. L-carnitine is involved in the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria, the cellular organelles responsible for energy production. By facilitating the movement of fatty acids into the mitochondria, L-carnitine can help promote the use of fat as a fuel source for energy production. For muscle growth, some people believe that L-carnitine can help promote muscle recovery and reduce muscle damage after exercise. Additionally, some studies have suggested that L-carnitine may help improve exercise performance and endurance. However, the research on the effects of L-carnitine on muscle growth and exercise performance is mixed, and more studies are needed to understand its potential benefits and risks fully.†
Laxogenin is a plant-derived compound structurally similar to the hormone ecdysterone, found in insects and some plants. Laxogenin is also a steroidal sapogenin, which means it is a type of steroid molecule found in plants. Some studies suggest this compound may have anabolic effects, which may help promote muscle growth and improve muscle recovery after exercise.†
For more information on Laxogenin, click here.
Myostatin inhibitors are compounds that can help reduce the activity of myostatin, a protein that plays a key role in regulating muscle growth. Myostatin normally limits the growth and development of skeletal muscle, which is why myostatin inhibitors are sometimes referred to as “muscle growth inhibitors.” Epicat from Blackstone Labs is a Myostatin inhibitor that contains epicatechin, a flavonoid found in certain plants. Epicatechin has been shown in some animal studies to have myostatin-inhibiting effects, which means it may help promote muscle growth by reducing the activity of myostatin.†
For more information on Epicat, click here.
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about building muscle for women:
How often should I strength train to build muscle?
|Strength training is recommended at least 2-3 times per week for muscle growth. Make sure to include a variety of exercises that target different muscle groups.†|
Should I do cardio if I want to build muscle?
|While cardio can help improve overall health and fitness, it’s not necessary for building muscle. In fact, excessive cardio can sometimes interfere with muscle growth. Focus on strength training and incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for cardiovascular benefits.†|
Can I build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
|It’s possible to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously, but it can be challenging. To do so, you’ll need to be in a slight calorie deficit and maintain a balanced diet that includes enough protein.†|
How long does it take to see results?
|Results can vary depending on individual factors such as genetics, training intensity, and nutrition. Generally, it can take several weeks or months to see noticeable changes in muscle mass.†|
Are pre-workout supplements safe for women?
|Pre-workout supplements can be safe for women, but they are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing.†|
What are some good pre-workout supplements for women?
|Ingredients such as caffeine, beta-alanine, creatine, citrulline malate, and nitric oxide boosters are all common pre-workout ingredients that can be effective for women.†|
And this marks the end of our guide for growing muscle. Thank you for reading! And as always, if there was something that wasn’t clear, another question you might have, or if you have another idea for a blog, Email Us!
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Warnings And Side Effects:
Products mentioned in this post are not intended for pregnant or nursing mothers or children under 18 years of age. If you are taking any medications, have a known medical condition, or are planning a medical procedure, consult your doctor before use. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if any adverse reactions occur.
- Fujita, S., Rasmussen, B. B., Cadenas, J. G., Grady, J. J., & Volpi, E. (2006). Effect of insulin on human skeletal muscle protein synthesis is modulated by insulin-induced changes in muscle blood flow and amino acid availability. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 291(4), E745.
- Turcotte, L. P., & Fisher, J. S. (2008). Skeletal Muscle Insulin Resistance: Roles of Fatty Acid Metabolism and Exercise. Physical Therapy, 88(11), 1279-1296.
- Thau L, Gandhi J, Sharma S. Physiology, Cortisol. [Updated 2022 Aug 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.
- Baar, K. (2019). Effect of Estrogen on Musculoskeletal Performance and Injury Risk. Frontiers in Physiology, 9.
- Gharahdaghi, N., Phillips, B. E., Szewczyk, N. J., Smith, K., Wilkinson, D. J., & Atherton, P. J. (2021). Links Between Testosterone, Oestrogen, and the Growth Hormone/Insulin-Like Growth Factor Axis and Resistance Exercise Muscle Adaptations. Frontiers in Physiology, 11.
- Dasa, M. S., Kristoffersen, M., Ersvær, E., Bovim, L. P., Bjørkhaug, L., Sagen, J. V., & Haukenes, I. (2021). The Female Menstrual Cycles Effect on Strength and Power Parameters in High-Level Female Team Athletes. Frontiers in Physiology, 12.
- Moore, D. R., & Philp, A. (2019). Editorial: Nutritional Strategies to Promote Muscle Mass and Function Across the Health Span. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7.
- Carbone, J. W., & Pasiakos, S. M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5).
- Watkins, E., & Giannopoulou, I. (2019). Effects of High Carbohydrate vs. High Protein Pre-exercise Feedings on Psychophysiological Responses to High Intensity Interval Exercise in Overweight Perimenopausal Women. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5.
†PLEASE NOTE: The intention of the information provided is for reference only. Furthermore, we are in no way providing medical advice or instruction. Instead, the information provided in this guide/blog utilizes anecdotal information and available studies/reviews. While our goal is to maintain and display accurate information, we can’t guarantee it represents the latest formulation of the product or information. Therefore, please visit the manufacturer’s website if you have any concerns. Also, the information above does not represent our views here at Same Day Supplements. Instead, these are the manufacturers’ and users’ views and information. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Finally, these products aim not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness.
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