They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And rightly so. After all, from different looks to a completely different anatomy to completely, completely different emotion-processing mechanism–men and women seem quite different, don’t they?
But does this difference also mean that they’ve got to work out differently to achieve the same goal of gaining muscle? Here’s what the fitness experts have to say:
Unfortunately, gender disparity exists here too!
Y’all know that both men and women have testosterone (the male sex hormone) as well as estrogen (the female sex hormone) in their body. But the difference in the ratio of these hormones is what makes a difference in how they gain muscle and lose fat.
“Conventionally, men have higher levels of testosterone hormone, which makes it easier for them to gain muscle and burn fat. While women have higher levels of estrogen, which makes it harder for them to gain muscles and lose fat,” points out Praveshh Gaur, founder, Srauta Wellness.
But does this difference affect the amount of muscle gained?
If you see the larger picture, the differences between muscle gain in men and women are minimal, according to Dr. Kruti Khemani, celebrity sports physiotherapist and founder, Continuum Physiotherapy and Rehab Clinic, Mumbai.
“Gaining muscle is slightly misunderstood when it comes to strength training in men and women. Women can gain muscles just as easily as men. The only difference is the size of the muscle as these gains are based on one’s overall skeletal structure, size and testosterone levels,” explains Khemani.
Hence, with their conventionally leaner skeletal structure and lower levels of testosterone hormone, women’s muscle bulk is limited as compared to men.
So, should women work out differently than men?
“No, there is no requirement for men and women to train differently in order to gain muscles as strength training can be equally beneficial for both men and women,” states Gaur.
In fact, Khemani is quick to remind that the traditional method of building muscle for both men and women is to lift heavier weights and perform fewer and slower repetitions.
Doing so can activate the type-2 or the “fast twitch” muscle fibres which are important in developing strength and increasing muscle fibres and thus, increasing muscle size.
But, you’ve got to keep this in mind
Most women don’t lose the body fat surrounding the muscles, despite performing strength training the exact way as men do—thanks to higher estrogen levels in their body.
“This is why the ‘bulking up’ doesn’t happen in women as fast as in men. So, in order to train for muscle gain, women need to reduce their body fat first and replace it with muscle with the help of a protein-rich diet and workout,” says Khemani.
To be honest, there is no hard and fast rule in case of muscle gain.
“Some men will be hypermobile and have low testosterone. This means that they will struggle to gain muscle while some women may have higher testosterone and hence, can build muscles easily,” Khemani concludes.