Q: My boyfriend has got me started bodybuilding. He says I should train the same way he does with weights appropriate for me—but don’t women need to train differently than men?
A: Primarily due to hormonal differences, women typically respond to bodybuilding to a much lesser degree than men do, but the same training principles apply to both genders. If women want to build strength and muscle, they must train seriously. Toying with exercise without any effort or use of progressive resistance is as unproductive for women as it is for men. You need serious training if you want to build some muscle, lose bodyfat and maintain a lean physique thereafter. Most women can’t acquire the degree of definition that men can, also because of hormonal differences, but every woman can make improvement—perhaps tremendous improvement.
Only very few women have the ability to develop a lot of muscle. For all the rest muscle growth happens very slowly and only if the training is appropriate and hard enough. Even so, just five to 10 pounds of muscle can make a big difference in a woman’s appearance, fitness, strength and ability to control bodyfat. Achieving even that level of muscular improvement, however, requires that the training be serious.
The elite-level women bodybuilders have freaky genetics for building large muscles and developing a very lean body. That, plus drug assistance and tremendous dedication to training is the combination that yielded their freaky physiques.
Every week I see women waste their time in the gym. They never push themselves hard, never do the most productive exercises, never make any visible improvement and give up sooner rather than later.
Bodybuilding is the most productive single form of exercise for men and women. Here’s why: Along with strength and muscle, it strengthens bones, improves overall fitness, increases the body’s calorie consumption, helps control bodyfat, improves posture, slows the effects of aging, increases resistance to injury and transforms physical appearance. The problem is, very few women experience those benefits because most never train seriously enough, which means hard, progressive training on routines that are appropriate for them.
So your boyfriend is right, provided that he trains correctly himself.
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or www.Home-Gym.com.