Strength Workout – Hypertrophy Training
Is lifting weights a man’s job? By no means! Women also benefit from well-formed muscles. This blog post will tell you what you should watch out for in a strength workout and how do you avoid “classic female” training errors?
Moreover, women often shy away from weight training for fear of gaining too much weight. Wrongly, especially since both the female muscle composition (morphologically no difference to “male” muscles; the hormones make the difference) and the hormone situation counteract excessive muscle building. Anyone who overcomes their fear of dumbbells and the like benefits from many positive effects on the organism. But, strength training has a preventive effect against osteoporosis and helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite. It is important to find the right training balance and train with sufficient weight.
Why should women train their muscles?
In addition, when you think of strength training, you primarily associate it with muscles – an optical aspect. Training with dumbbells and the like offers a lot more. It not only keeps you fit but also young. Why specifically?
- Strength training improves the appearance of cellulite
The extremely flexible, female connective tissue lies between the epidermal and subcutaneous fatty tissue. The fat cells mercilessly exploit this elasticity. They push their way through the skin and in this way cause the typical dents. Strong and, above all, shaped muscles smooth the features of the skin – making it appear tighter and firmer.
- Has a preventive effect against osteoporosis
Lots of little piles of immobile matter. This is how one could imagine the image of a man without bones. Over 200 bones support and stabilize the human framework (supporting apparatus). The body is busy building new bone substances around the clock. From the age of 35, the activity of these build-up cells decreases. Strength workout reduces the breakdown of bone substances. Why? Muscles are attached to the bone by tendons. In strength training, the muscle contracts, putting pressure on the bones. In order not to break, the bone has to adapt.
- Improves the hormonal balance
The body’s hormone production also decreases from around the age of 30. The growth hormones somatotropin and testosterone are increasingly released during strength training. These stimulate muscle growth and regulate fat metabolism and promote fat loss. Important to prevent weight gain in old age.
- Increases the basal metabolic rate
Muscles act like small kilns. The “logs” symbolizing food are converted directly into heat. The resulting equation is simple: more muscle mass = higher basal metabolic rate. This means that even in sleep mode, they consume more energy than inactive “couch potatoes”.
Special features of a women-specific strength training
Women have the same composition, but less muscle mass (less growth hormone and testosterone) than men: Compared to men, women have a little less strength available – because of less muscle mass. Specifically, the average maximum strength is around 60% of the strength output of men. Why is that? The reason for this: a lower muscle volume.
Female hormone situation: testosterone is the buzzword for efficient muscle building. This hormone lets the muscles sprout. Advantageous for men who not only build muscles more easily but also become “bigger”. A woman’s testosterone levels are, on average, 10 to 20 times lower than those of a man. An interesting fact is that the strength of a woman fluctuates throughout a cycle. So, the reason for this: is the unstable hormone situation, which leads to different concentrations of the sex hormones progestin and progesterone.
Myths about strength training
Do you give up strength training because you fear that you will soon look like a female Popeye? Don’t worry, there are many myths about strength training. Above-average muscle growth in women is one of them. But there are other “muscle fairy tales”:
- Cardio training replaces weight training
Do you stand at the stepper for hours, hoping to get a cracking bottom? The wish will only partially come true. Although endurance training is hard on calories, you will only build muscle to a limited extent.
The secret behind the colloquial is hidden in the percentage of the so-called “one-repetition maximum “. This means: the muscle volume only increases through targeted muscle building (hypertrophy). And this, in turn, is only triggered when the muscle is loaded with at least 40-50% of the maximum possible weight. Strength training between 60-80% of the one-repetition maximum is even more effective. This effect cannot be achieved with pure endurance training, since here you train in a range of a maximum of 30% of the one-repetition maximum.
- Strength training causes unsightly mountains of muscles
The initially mentioned low testosterone level in women severely restricts muscle growth. The women-specific hormone estrogen does the rest. It binds excess testosterone, making it ineffective. A study has shown that women do not gain more than 1.5 to a maximum of 3 kg of pure muscle mass per year, even with high-intensity training. Only strength training shapes the body and gives “wanted” curves.
You are wondering why female bodybuilders are loaded with excessive muscle. Most of them take synthetic growth hormones. Anabolic steroids manipulate the natural hormone balance and promote testosterone production. More testosterone means more muscles, even in women, the health-damaging effect is an open question.
- Strength training enables local fat burning
To get washboard abs, do you spend 10 minutes a day in sit-ups? Are you otherwise inactive? Caution! The body cannot be tricked – isolated fat burning in defined areas of the body is hardly possible. The only way to get visible results is by reducing the total amount of fat in your body. The way to get there is through a combination of endurance and strength training.
Common mistakes in weight training
- Too little weight
A common mistake in strength training: choosing too low a weight. Due to the lack of stimulus, the muscle quickly feels under-challenged. The consequences: the firming and body-shaping effects do not materialize. If you can do 20 or more repetitions per set, increase the weight. You can only achieve hypertrophy with a rep range of 6-12 repetitions per exercise. After that, the muscle should be “tired”.
- Unilateral muscle training
Are the leg and chest presses your favorite exercise equipment? Do you avoid demanding machines? Better not! Those who avoid uncomfortable equipment risk muscular, sometimes very painful imbalances – i.e. a muscular imbalance. This means: if one muscle is exercised too much and the other not at all, the neglected muscle may be either shortened or weakened. You should therefore always ensure that you also train the “counter mirror” in your program. Means: When doing back training, pay attention to the stomach, front, and back of the thigh, as well as training biceps and triceps, etc.
Train properly: this is how it works!
Moreover, for beginners: newcomers to sports are best started with strength and endurance training. The difference to hypertrophy training: a higher number of repetitions.
- A beginner’s training program could look like this in detail:
- How many times a week? 2 to 3 training units per week, ideally combined with 2-3 times endurance training on the non-strength days
- Number of repetitions: 15
- Number of passes: 2-3
- Duration of the breaks between the rounds: 30 seconds to 3 minutes
- Which weight? Choose a dumbbell weight that you find heavy to moderate and that can do 15 reps.
- For advanced strength athletes:
- How many times a week? 3 to 4 training units per week, supplemented by endurance training
- Number of repetitions: 8 to 12
- Number of passes: 2-3
- Duration of the breaks: between 60 seconds and 3 minutes
- Which weight? Choose the weight so that a maximum of 8 to 12 repetitions can be performed. A 13th repetition should no longer be possible.
- The following applies to both beginners and advanced learners:
- Make sure you have sufficient regeneration times. Muscle building is only possible in rest mode. Excessive ambition in the sport quickly leads to overtraining, for example, training every other day.
- Machine or dumbbell training? Both have their advantages. Above all, machine training offers safety. It enables a controlled sequence of movements and primarily addresses isolated muscle groups. Beginners who like to train alone will find adequate companions in strength training machines.
- With free weights: here significantly more muscles are used within an exercise – not least because of the higher coordination requirements. Studies also show a faster increase in strength.
- Which dumbbell weight? There is no specific guideline for this. The “ideal” training weight depends on many factors. Among other things, the training status of the individual muscles and the muscle groups themselves. In addition, there are individual circumstances that vary from woman to woman.
- Pay attention to an error-free execution! Correct posture and correct execution prevent improper strain, which in the worst case can lead to injuries. Beginners are therefore advised to undergo (personal) training under supervision.
- Don’t be afraid of the men’s training plans! Physiological differences between men and women have little or no effect on the training recommendations. Use the general guidelines for strength training as a guide when designing your workout.