When you enter a gym, what do you see? Most women are generally busy doing cardio while the men stay crowded around the weights. This scenario is mainly due to a preconceived notion that weights are for men only and women should always be graceful and elegant and stay away from the bulky weights. Wonder why society has encouraged this kind of misogynist thinking. However, the truth is strength training is important for toning and also for that extra calorie burn. There are many other benefits of strength training and women should definitely not miss out on the same!
Gender stereotypes tend to keep women away from weights, making them stick to cardio exercises and encourage the use of equipment such as the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike. The gender stereotypes are encouraged by the extensive attention given to men’s sports and upholding of “male qualities” like competition, aggression and strength. Unfortunately, there is some sort of double standard with regard to women lifting weights – women are only expected to be toned and not have big muscles. The fear of looking MANLY with big built muscles keeps women miles away from the heavyweights.
Women steer clear from lifting weights due to the fear of bulking up. According to experts, women need considerable many more hours of weightlifting than men, on a daily basis to really get bulky. Moreover, to become muscular there needs to be drastic diet changes as well. Strength training cannot make a woman bulk up so easily due to hormonal differences. Women have less testosterone; therefore, the body responds very differently to weightlifting. To actually bulk up like the way men do when they lift weights, women would need to consume excessive calories combined with an intensive weight training program.
Our Food Scientist Dr Lakshmi. K says “In a balanced and healthy diet, a woman consumes about 0.8gm/kg bodyweight protein. To work on muscle building and advance workouts, the protein intake should be gradually increased to 1gm – 1.4gm/kg body weight. Before taking the leap of faith, please contact your nutritionist as they can assess your health conditions (if any) and give you a customised diet that caters to your muscle-building needs. In general, increase the consumption of protein by adding an additional amount of 200gm in a week to your diet. If you are above 35yrs and are looking for strength and muscle training, your nutritionist will chart a diet based on your renal profile. The renal profile lets them know the creatinine levels and urea level in your body depending on which they will advise you on your protein intake.”
Strength training makes you more energetic, helps you burn more calories and fat and also aids in preventing muscle loss due to aging. When you lift weights you not only improve your strength but also increase your basal metabolic and boost bone strength. In fact, weightlifting helps elderly people combat health issues such as hypertension, muscle loss and abnormal glucose tolerance as well. It also makes them independent.
Expert Advice by Dr Rabindera Nath Mehrotra Endocrinologist
AgeMale (in ng/dl)Female (in ng/dl)
|17 to 18 years||300-1,200||20-75|
|19 and older||240-950||8-60|
There is no given testosterone level which helps in gaining muscle as such for women. With normal aging and lack of exercise anyone is bound to lose muscle mass. To maintain muscle mass one needs to have adequate calories/proteins- containing essential amino acids and exercise—resistance exercise. Doctors also measure an individual’s testosterone levels alongside Tanner staging; this is where the Tanner scale can monitor the visual growth of adolescents during puberty according to five stages rather than an individual’s specific age range.