The Training Differences Between Males And Females

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Male And Female Muscle Are Similar, But They Are Not The Same.

Male And Female Muscle Are Similar, But They Are Not The Same.

Many similarities exist between men and women. When it comes to muscle building, however, there are subtle but significant differences between us.

Many factors influence how much and how quickly you can gain muscle. Our bodies respond to anabolic hormones and enzymes in our muscles by turning on the switch and gaining muscle mass. Lifting weights increases muscle gain and breakdown, and your muscles grow bigger and stronger over time if you gain more than you lose. Is it true that females have a harder time gaining muscle strength and size than males, or can you achieve the same results regardless of gender?

Muscle Differences Between Men and Women

Contrary to popular belief, there are few differences between men and women's rates of muscle protein synthesis. When we are at rest, we build muscle at the same rate. The same can be said for the time after a gym session or other form of physical activity. Our muscle protein synthesis is stimulated in a similar way by both training and protein-rich diets.

The rate at which we build muscle over time is not solely determined by our basal muscle protein synthesis. What happens right after you lift weights or eat is neither of these things. There are no significant sex differences in the amount of new muscle tissue created by an intense strength training session.

One study stands out among the rest. Women had higher rates of muscle protein synthesis in that study, according to the researchers. 4 However, that is the only time this has been demonstrated. Men and women, it's safe to assume, respond to strength training in the same way.

For several hours after a strength training session, you build about 50% more muscle than normal. That's without eating anything before or after the workout. If you eat some protein after your workout, you will notice a significant increase in the muscle-building effect. However, there are no sex differences there either.

Is it true that men have more muscle mass than women?

Yes, that is the answer to that question. In both absolute and relative terms, women have less total muscle mass than men. The differences in lean body mass between men and women appear during puberty and last for the rest of our lives.

Long-term strength training, regardless of age, increases muscle mass in both men and women. Heavy strength training results in men gaining more than twice the total muscle mass as women.

Muscle Growth in Males and Females

Keep in mind, however, that women have less muscle mass from the start. When you consider this, women gain muscle at the same rate as men.

After 12 weeks of biceps curls, a large-scale study with 585 subjects, 58 percent of whom were women, found no sex differences in relative muscle mass.

Depending on your training goals, these findings could be either good or bad news.

Many women do not wish to develop the same muscularity as men. Don't worry if this describes you. You will not appear to be a bodybuilder one day. Years of hard work and dedication are required to accomplish this. Female athletes are unable to build the same size muscles as male athletes.

After years of training, competitive male bodybuilders' biceps were twice as large as those of competitive female bodybuilders, according to one study. In addition, male bodybuilders had more muscle fibers, which meant they had more building material to begin with. When you lift weights, your muscle fibers grow in size rather than in number. That means that if all other factors are equal, females will not be able to catch up.

  • You can gain a lot of muscle mass as a woman if you want to. At least if you're genetically predisposed to it. What matters is your genetics and what you do inside and outside the gym, not your gender. 
  • Strength training works just as well for women as it does for men, and they gain just as much muscle mass relative to their starting skeletal muscle mass.
  • To begin with, females have less muscle mass than males. This means that men gain more muscle mass from strength training in absolute terms, as measured in kilograms or pounds of body weight.
  • Testosterone is likely to account for a significant portion of any differences in muscle mass gains. Even though the acute effects of strength training are unaffected by hormones, higher testosterone levels will result in more muscle mass in the long run.

Let's look at how our hormones fit into the picture while we're on the subject of testosterone.

Hormones in Males and Females

Hormones regulate the size of your muscles, instructing your body whether to break them down or build them up. The male sex hormone testosterone is probably the most well-known of these. Both muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown are regulated by testosterone. You're more likely to have more muscle mass and strength, as well as less body fat, if you have a lot of testosterone.

The testosterone levels of women are nearly ten times lower than those of men. It's easy to assume that hormonal differences make it easier for men to gain muscle mass.

Female sex hormones, on the other hand, aid muscle growth.

  • Estrogen is a hormone that promotes muscle growth and prevents muscle breakdown. This has been proven in a number of studies.
  • Progesterone, like testosterone, stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

Most people associate testosterone with strength and large muscles, and you probably don't associate muscle gain with higher levels of estrogen and other female sex hormones. Those hormones, on the other hand, help women gain as much muscle as men when they lift weights, despite their lower testosterone levels.

These hormones might be able to help you improve your training. The menstrual cycle is a type of natural "doping" available to females. Your hormone balance changes dramatically during the menstrual cycle. Estrogen takes precedence during the first two weeks. According to a recent meta-analysis, the scientific evidence is insufficient to draw any firm conclusions. Nonetheless, some studies show that strength training during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle can help you gain muscle. When your hormones are on your side, go heavy and hard. 

In addition, there appears to be a link between growth factors like IGF-1 and female strength and muscle mass. For men, however, this is not the case. In addition, women produce up to 80 times the amount of growth hormone that men do.  In conclusion, while testosterone is the most well-known anabolic hormone, females have a number of other hormonal advantages for muscle growth.

Age Differences Between Males and Females

Male and female muscle differences begin to appear as you get older. In general, as people age, they lose muscle mass. When you eat protein, you don't gain as much muscle as you did when you were younger. This is where men have an advantage over women, as this process occurs faster for them.

However, in elderly females, basal muscle protein synthesis rates are higher than in age-matched males. To put it another way, older women build more muscle tissue all the time than older men. This is most likely due to males' lifetime exposure to high testosterone levels. Although testosterone is anabolic in and of itself, a lifetime of male testosterone levels reduces the hormone's anabolic sensitivity.

Despite the fact that women have higher basal muscle protein synthesis rates than men, females lose significantly more muscle mass as they age. This disparity is influenced by a number of factors.

  • An increase in the breakdown of muscle protein.
  • After menopause, gene expressions that inhibit muscle growth.

Following menopause, there is a decreased anabolic response to both a protein-rich meal and strength-training sessions.

Each meal stimulates muscle protein synthesis less than it did prior to menopause, and each workout produces less new muscle tissue. When compared to men of the same age, older women face a double disadvantage. Because your estrogen levels are lower than they used to be, this occurs. Higher testosterone levels aren't helping you maintain muscle mass, and the estrogen advantage that helped you maintain muscle mass is gone.

That sounds a lot worse than it actually is! There is a cure for this, and it's called strength training.

You don't gain as much muscle as you used to from a strength-training session as you get older. Lifting weights, on the other hand, can prevent or at least slow muscle loss. Maintaining muscle mass and body composition as you age requires strength training. You can maintain your mobility and quality of life regardless of sex by doing strength training and keeping the majority of your muscle mass. That means that after the age of 60, strength training is even more important for women than it is for men.

Despite this, when it comes to gaining muscle mass at an advanced age, women are at a disadvantage compared to men. The ability to build and maintain muscle mass differs significantly between men and women at this point.


Everyone understands how important, if not critical, testosterone is for muscle growth. If you're training for strength, however, the (in)famous male sex hormone is likely to play an even bigger role. In absolute terms, males are generally stronger than females. It's natural to assume that this gives you a leg up in the gym when it comes to getting stronger.

Legs and Feet

Females frequently have lower body strength than males. Again, not in absolute terms, but the differences disappear once total body mass is taken into account. Lower-body strength is compared in more studies than upper-body strength.

Women's muscular strength increases at the same rate as men's when they train the same way. 23 To put it another way, there are no significant sex differences there.

Arms and Shoulders

In comparison to your lower body, your upper body muscles may have a higher number of anabolic receptors. As a result, it seems reasonable to assume that men, who have 10-fold higher testosterone levels, would respond better to strength training and gain upper body strength more quickly.

That does not appear to be true.

Leg presses, leg curls, chest presses, and lat pulldowns were performed twice a week for 10 weeks by 44 young men and 47 young women in one study. There were no differences between males and females in 24 strength tests. The men improved by 11.61 percent on average, while the women improved by 11.61 percent on average.

These findings are consistent with those of a previous study. The time course of strength gains after high-intensity strength training was investigated in that study. For 12 weeks, seventeen young men and women and 20 middle-aged men and women participated in a strength training program three days per week. In the upper and lower bodies, both males and females increased their absolute strength (measured as 1RM) in similar ways. Females had a slight advantage when total body mass was taken into account.

Consider the results of a recent meta-analysis.

Over 60 studies compare and contrast the effects of strength training on male and female strength and skeletal muscle mass. There have been no meta-analyses or systematic reviews of the results of these studies until recently.

The release of the meta-analysis Sex Differences in Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in May 2020 corrected this. We got a good look at whether males or females gain more muscle mass and strength by lifting for the first time.

The following are a few highlights from the findings:

  • Males and females gain muscle mass at roughly the same rate, according to ten studies with 12 outcomes.
  • Females gain upper-body strength a little easier than men, according to the researchers, who looked at 17 studies and 19 outcomes.
  • There were no gender differences in lower-body strength after a review of 23 studies.

Lifting weights gives both men and women the same amount of lower-body muscle mass and strength. Females actually improve more in upper-body strength when compared to their body size.

Females who are untrained may be able to gain upper-body strength faster than males who are untrained. The research available does not explain why this difference is only visible in the upper body. Perhaps there are differences in muscular, neural, and motor learning between men and women? Future research will hopefully look into this further and reveal more information. It's possible that the studies are too short to draw any conclusive conclusions.

Previous findings are backed up by new research.

18 male and female students did bicep curls and squats twice a week for seven weeks in a new study published in December 2021.

27 There were no gender differences in absolute strength gains, but there were no differences in relative strength gains. In comparison to their baseline strength levels, the females gained just as much strength. In terms of muscle growth, the researchers discovered that both males and females increased their muscle mass in the upper and lower body in equal amounts.

In other words, more evidence that men and women gain the same amount of weight, despite hormonal and other differences.

The more muscle mass you have, the more difficult it is to add more.

When you've been strength training long enough to have left your beginner's gains behind, muscle development slows down. Over time, the avalanche of gains dwindles to a trickle.

There are no obvious differences between men and women in this regard. It becomes more difficult for all of us to keep moving forward. Male and female competitive bodybuilders stopped gaining muscle mass after a certain point, according to one study. You'll probably find yourself refining and adding quality to your physique rather than quantity sooner or later. After 24 weeks of monitored training, the very experienced bodybuilders in the study did not see an increase in muscle fiber size. 28 Even when they used anabolic steroids, they didn't gain any more weight. As you gain experience, your capacity for muscle growth decreases.

In conclusion

Females, contrary to popular belief, respond to a weight-training program just as well as males. Despite much lower levels of the anabolic hormone testosterone, the beginner's stage may be even better. Male testosterone levels allow them to naturally gain a greater amount of total muscle mass. This does not, however, imply that gaining muscle and strength in the gym will be any easier. Muscle mass and strength are controlled by a variety of factors, including hormones and genes, and in many cases, these factors favor females.

In absolute terms, men gain more muscle mass than women. If a man weighs 80 kilograms and a woman weighs 60 kilograms and both increase their muscle mass by 10%, the man will have gained more muscle tissue. Females, on the other hand, gain roughly the same amount of muscle as males when compared to their starting point.

Women who want to gain the same amount of muscle as men must train in the same manner. You must train for gains if you are a female and want to gain as much muscle as possible. For years, that means lifting heavier weights and doing high-intensity strength training. There are plenty of women who work out as hard as any man in the gym. At the same time, some women use light weights and don't push themselves when they exercise, and then wonder why they aren't seeing the results they want after spending so much time in the gym.

After all, males and females aren't that dissimilar.

Many sports outcomes are influenced by gender differences, but when it comes to muscle gain, we're fairly equal. Despite the fact that men and women have very different physiological makeups, from hormones to genes, we all gain muscle and strength by lifting weights. In absolute terms, males develop more muscle mass than females, but female muscle grows at the same rate in relative terms.

The best way to pack on pounds of muscle for everyone, regardless of gender, is to go to the gym and work hard and consistently.

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