The Pure Muscular Potential of Girls


What are you able to obtain as a feminine lifter? There appear to be solely 2 camps. Most people thinks a girl that touches a loaded barbell will get up the subsequent day because the SheHulk.

Folks with a bit extra understanding of train physiology notice that that is clearly nonsense. One go searching you within the common gymnasium makes it clear that getting severely massive is troublesome even for males. The statistic that girls have ~15 occasions much less testosterone than males is usually quoted to clarify that as a girl, you possibly can’t develop a lot muscle anyway. So the frequent advice in right this moment’s health circles is that ladies ought to practice like males and will anticipate to not see a lot muscle progress.

The pure muscular potential of ladies

There may be reality to this, however the causality runs in the wrong way. Earlier than I clarify this, let’s first have a look at how the pure muscular potential of ladies compares to that of males. Share clever, how a lot muscle can a girl construct in comparison with a person? Does it scale with testosterone so that ladies can construct solely ~7% as a lot muscle as males? Is it about half?

It’s 100%. Girls acquire the identical proportion of muscle mass as males throughout energy coaching. In reality, girls acquire as a lot measurement and typically extra energy than males [2]. The one distinction is the place to begin. Males begin off with extra muscle mass and extra energy, however the relative improve in muscle measurement is identical between women and men.

Analysis on protein metabolism involves the identical conclusion. Girls construct simply as a lot muscle protein after coaching and after meals as males. In reality, one research discovered that given the identical stage of muscle mass, girls have a better charge of muscle protein synthesis than males.

I labored with Hayley Hirshland (now Hayley Yamanaka) for over 2 years. Throughout this time, she received her professional card in Match Physique and Determine (sure, 2 professional playing cards) and took first place in her first professional present, the WNBF Professional-Am Central USA Pure Championships.

Girls vs. males in elite sports activities

For those who assume that is all simply foolish principle from labcoats finding out rookies, think about this. Elite, pure feminine athletes have 85% as a lot muscle as elite male athletes. The studied sports activities included Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting. The 15% distinction can simply be defined by three components.

  1. Girls have a genetically larger physique fats proportion. Girls have ~12% important physique fats to manage their hormones in comparison with simply ~three% fats in males. And you understand, boobs.
  1. Folks have decrease expectations of ladies, even most girls themselves underestimate what they’ll obtain bodily in comparison with males. In a well-known research, merely telling folks they had been on steroids elevated their energy beneficial properties by 321%. These had been superior trainees already benching and squatting over 300 kilos (137 kg) earlier than taking the pretend steroids. Furthermore, the androgenic-anabolic steroid protocol in query was simply 70 mg of Dianabol per week. Giving that very same dosage of precise Dianabol to superior trainees improves energy by only some %. So what do you assume it does to girls if you inform them they’ve 15 occasions much less testosterone?
  1. There are extra males in sports activities, so on the elite stage, the choice to get to the highest stage is stronger. Elite male athletes are probably the most effective the male race has to supply. For girls there could also be extra potential world report holders that can by no means understand it as a result of they don’t strive.

What about testosterone?

Inside a person, extra testosterone means extra muscle mass. There may be little doubt about that. Between genders, nevertheless, the relation turns into a lot weaker. Of their research of elite athletes, Healy et al. concluded that “The distinction in lean physique mass is enough to account for the noticed variations in energy and cardio efficiency seen between the sexes with out the necessity to hypothesize that efficiency is in any means decided by the variations in testosterone ranges.”

How can this be? Testosterone features in another way in women and men, as I defined in my BioSignature evaluate. In animals we’ve got a very good understanding of why testosterone will not be wanted for muscle improvement in girls. It appears progress components like IGF-1 and progress hormone take over the anabolic function that testosterone has in males. Progress components are extra essential for energy and muscle mass in girls than in males. Since girls have simply as a lot IGF-1 as males and girls produce ~three occasions as a lot progress hormone as males, this explains partly why having much less testosterone doesn’t restrict how a lot muscle they’ll construct. To make issues extra advanced, the intercourse hormones and progress components work together and all these hormones additionally work together along with your genes.

Briefly, saying girls have much less potential to construct muscle mass as a result of they don’t have as a lot testosterone as males is shortsighted.

I’m assured my former shopper Nancy Keizer is drug-free. She appears to be like like this just because she needs to and could be very informal about her physique.

The opposite intercourse hormone

Not solely is testosterone not the good savior, estrogen will not be the unhealthy man. Most individuals, even girls, shun estrogen because the evil hormone that makes you bloated and does all types of destructive issues. Though it’s not often described what precisely the destructive results of estrogen are, most individuals agree nonetheless that’s it’s unhealthy to your physique composition. That is full nonsense. In my article on hormones and fats loss I defined the optimistic results estrogen has on belly fats storage, however estrogen does many extra superior issues.

Why girls aren’t residing as much as their potential

Girls have the identical relative pure muscular potential as males. They even have a number of benefits over males. So why don’t we see extra muscular girls?

  • Girls are underrepresented in sports activities and within the gymnasium. Even on the Olympic stage there are fewer feminine individuals. It’s even true in science. There are over 50% fewer feminine individuals in scientific research than males.
  • Even when girls go to the gymnasium, most of them spend their time on the treadmill or taking part in with pink dumbbells.
  • We don’t have the identical expectations of ladies. If a person benches so much, that’s taken as an indication of social dominance. If a girl benches so much, she’s seen as a freak, folks get fearful and males really feel their satisfaction sting and shrivel. I’ve heard from lots of the girls I practice they’re approached within the gymnasium ‘not too elevate that heavy’ once they bench greater than a plate.
  • Many ladies use contraceptives that hurt their energy coaching development. Many contraception tablets impair muscle progress by reducing androgen exercise, reducing progress issue ranges and growing cortisol ranges. It’s primarily the progestin content material of the contraceptive that’s dangerous, as a result of this competes with testosterone for the androgen receptor.

Lastly, the ladies that do truly practice severely despite the stigma typically practice like males, which doesn’t align with their physiological strengths. Since girls produce far more estrogen than males, this offers them a number of benefits over males within the gymnasium. Girls don’t fatigue as a lot as males and girls get better quicker after coaching. There are a lot of extra essential gender variations in metabolism, anatomy, neurology and physiology: see this text a full evaluate of why and the way girls mustn’t practice like males. (If I simply offended any feminists, get actual.)


It’s time we cease treating girls like second charge males. Girls have simply as a lot relative potential for muscle progress as males. It’s as much as them in the event that they wish to fulfill that potential. In the event that they do, they need to notice they’re not males and practice to their strengths.


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