Ever heard this before: “I want to start going to the gym, but I don’t want to get too big!” Don’t worry, you won’t—and here’s why.
Like most other things in life, when it comes to building muscle (in the gym or elsewhere), men and women do so in different ways. In men, the testosterone boost from intense workouts like those incorporating free weights can result in freakishly large proportions. Women, on the other hand, will never get as big as their male counterparts no matter how much strength training they do (even if it includes free weights).
The reason for the contrasting results all boils down to a single word: estrogen. In fact, the estrogen-based steroid hormones that are housed in women’s bodies, while beneficial to their overall muscle strength, have little to do with developing their overall muscle size.
This critical insight for women worried about losing their feminine shape through too much strength-training exercise is supported by an academic article that appeared in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. Among its other key points, the article’s researchers note that: “Evidence indicates that (natural, estrogen-based steroid hormones like estradiol do not) accomplish (increases in muscle strength) by affecting muscle size, (but) rather by improving the intrinsic quality of skeletal muscle whereby fibers are enabled to generate force.”
In short, for women, the net result of strength-training exercise appears to be an increase in the quality of their muscles, minus the He-Man bulk.
Perhaps there’s no better proof that strength training won’t blow up your body than to take a look at some of Instagram’s top trending female fitness models. Luckily, Cosmopolitan.com provides us with an excellent list here.
From long and lean @amandabisk to Emily Sky’s chiseled torso, what we find is worlds removed from the dense, hard muscle that distinguishes their male counterparts; rather it’s the type of tuck-and-tone that health and beauty conscious women like us strive for.
These women prove that hours of hard training will still keep you looking feminine.
We get that you want to keep your muscles strong while still maintaining a feminine figure. While we think we’ve already done a good job of making the point that strength-training won’t result in an overly muscular physique, we’re not done yet. Here are workouts you can perform that bypass the weight rack altogether:
Ready to hit the gym? We’ll see you there!