Today’s episode is especially tailored for our female listeners. I know ladies, you want to look your best and feel your best but the process to achieve your goals can be so confusing at times. But don’t worry because today we shall talk all about building your dream body, from the woman’s perspective.
We shall first address some of the most common concerns among women just starting out on their journey to build their dream body. After that, we shall discuss about the kind of training that gets you a stunning feminine physique. To wrap it up, we shall talk of the things that take you away from achieving your goals. So let’s get started.
If you are like most women I know, you probably have the same goals regarding your body: you want to be lean but not too skinny; you want a flat stomach but not a shredded six pack, and you want shapely legs and toned arms of course. And you definitely don’t want to be bulky! Yeah. No bulk. I get that.
Will weight training make you bulky? 😱
I have actually had a girl say once, “Oh man. I’m not even going near those weights. I dont want to look like a bodybuilder!” That seems to be the biggest fear among women. So let’s just dispel this myth once and for all.
Men naturally carry more muscle mass than women. And this is because we have about 15 times higher testosterone levels than women. Testosterone is the male sex hormone which gives men their masculine characteristics like a deeper voice and higher muscle mass.
Since women already carry lower muscle mass plus they have lower testosterone levels, it is highly unlikely for them to end up looking like a man solely from lifting weights.
I already know what some of you must be thinking. “Well, if you go google crossfit girl, you get these pictures of muscular bulky women. And also what about those female bodybuilders? They are huge.” I agree.
But you can also see that most of your male friends who lift weights regularly at the gym look nothing like male crossfit athletes, and definitely not like pro bodybuilders.
First thing that you should know is that building a bulky body is not something that happens accidentally. It’s not like you just lift a couple of weights a few times a week and in a few months…boom…you’re Henry Cavill from The Witcher. It requires meticulous training day in and day out, rigorous attention to what you are eating and sometimes in some cases, it involves performance enhancing drugs like steroids
Why would you want to build muscle as a woman? 💪
Building muscle seems to be a frightening thing for a lot of women because they automatically associate muscles with looking big. But the very thing that gives structure to your body and gives you your curves are your muscles.
So if you want a toned look with a tight stomach and curves in all the right places, weight training is exactly what you need. What usually makes you look big and bulky are not huge muscles but, it is actually having a high bodyfat percentage. If you take your favourite model with your dream body and put 5 kilograms of fat on her, you’d be really be surprised by how bulky she looks with all that extra fat. It is because 5 kilograms of fat occupies a lot of space on the body as compared to 5 kilograms of muscle.
Muscles also give you that tight smooth look because of the dense formation of muscle fibres. They form a very solid and firm structure under your skin.
When you have muscular glutes, it gives you more curvy hips which make you look great in a pair of tight leggings. But if instead you had very low muscle mass, your hips would have no shape and would only sag under your skin. Fat is just squishy and soft and it gives you that saggy, bloated and shapeless kind of look that you really wish to avoid.
Is there a right way to train using weights? 🤔
The thing with weight training and muscle building is that the more you train a muscle the more that area of the body grows. If you target the right muscles, you can grow the body parts that would give you that nice toned and curvy look. But with the wrong kind of training, your results could be a little unsatisfying.
A very common thing that you must have noticed at the gym is that a lot of women seem to train their abs almost every other day. And with a ton of different exercises. You might be thinking “Well, I got to lose that belly, bro. What do you think I got this gym membership for?”
I hate to tell you the truth but you are probably achieving the reverse thing here. Like I mentioned earlier, training a muscle…any muscle…makes it grow. Same goes for your abdominals. They follow the same rule. If you do endless side-bends and weighted crunches, guess what body part you are growing? Correct. Your waistline.
And it’s not just women. Have you seen that one guy at your gym who just loves his squats? Maybe it is one of those trainers. For him, every other day is squat day. Heavy squats every damn workout! Because only the most alpha males can train legs every session.
But what he seems to have missed is that squats also train another body part. Your glutes: the big muscle group that shapes your butt. Now if you were wondering, that is how the squat bro in your gym got his Kim Kardashian butt. By doing way too many sets of squats.
So you see ladies, it is not weight training that gets you looking bulky or blocky or big or manly. Weight training is great. It is what gives you that toned tight look. But you need to be wise when it comes to planning a weight training program. If you want shapely legs, do your squats and deadlifts. That is what will give you that gravity defying bubble butt like that squat bro.
If you want a popping six pack, do those weighted crunches. If you want a wider waist, do your weighted side bending. But seriously, please stop doing those side bends to work your obliques. They will not give you a smaller waist. They will actually give you a bigger waist. The obliques are a muscle group. If you train them, they will get bigger not smaller.
You might also like: How to Build an Aesthetic Physique: The Ultimate Guide for Men
Upper-body training for women? 🧐
A lot of women also seem to have a dilemma regarding upper body training. “Will doing heavy bicep curls get me massive arms like Dwayne Johnson?” Well no. Because like I said earlier, Dwayne Johnson probably has over 15 times the testosterone levels than you and actually probably way more than most males on this planet.
So…no…you won’t get 18 inch biceps from doing curls. What you will however get are the toned arms that you desire. Women have different body structures than men. They have wider hips and a stronger lower body. However men have a relatively stronger upper body. It has been actually proven by research that such a difference allows women to train their lower bodies harder and longer then their upper bodies. And in some cases, they can even train their lower bodies harder than a lot of other men!
So if you are a woman, your upper body is naturally designed to be smaller than your lower body. It is a biological fact.
That is why even training your upper body hard with heavy shoulder presses or bench presses won’t make you end up looking like a WWE superstar. You will in fact only achieve your toned tight look because of how nicely your skin would wrap around your muscles. It’ll make you look shapely and enhance your curves.
Now to simplify. Ladies, if you want to be shapely, curvy and toned, the best way to achieve this is through heavy weight training. You need to lift weights that challenge your limits and force your body to grow. You must also pick exercises to focus on the right body parts.
As most women love to have a curvy lower body that looks great in skinny jeans and tight leggings, you must make a lot of time for exercises like squats and deadlifts. Along with a great pair of legs you also want toned arms and a slender back that make you look amazing in a dress. For this, you must include upper body movements like the bench press, barbell rows, shoulder presses and bicep curls.
You might also like: Do you even need nutritional supplements?
What things should you avoid while trying to build your dream bod? 🚫
Now that we know what builds your curves and makes you look like a bombshell, what does the exact opposite? What are the things that ruin your appearance and that you should definitely avoid? There are a few.
First would be doing a ton of cardio. If you are a cardio queen, it is very likely that along with all the fat you’re burning, you’re also burning away a lot of your muscle tissue. This is especially very prominent if you do ONLY cardio and no weight training at all. This is what gives you that skinny look without any curves whatsoever.
Cardio is a great tool when used right. It is used to supplement weight training and to help with fat loss. But cardio is not a primary exercise method. If you make cardio your main exercise, you will never be able to achieve your goal body. It is just not possible. So, do incorporate your favourite cardio workout a few times a week but don’t make it your only workout. And always prioritise weight training over cardio. Not the other way round.
Second would be dropping to a very low bodyfat. While this is not very common, this is what usually freaks out most regular women. This makes women think that weight training would make them look like female crossfit athletes who have very prominent 6-pack abs and lots of veins down their arms and legs. I wish to clarify at this point that these women look that way only because they want to.
In sports, having a very low bodyfat is an advantage because it allows you to keep your body weight very low. But the side effect is that you will see all the veins and muscles in the body prominently.
While this can be attractive to some people, most women I know personally don’t want such a body. But you don’t have to worry. You will need to go through a very strictly supervised nutrition program which is designed to get you that lean to be able to do this. It would not, and can not happen if you don’t decide to do it voluntarily. Plus, it takes years of rigorous discipline to develop such a physique. It can not happen accidentally.
The last thing that you should completely avoid are those plans that promise you a 30-day total body transformation. Or a way to drop 10 kilograms in 4 weeks.
Things like building a great body and losing fat are very slow processes and there is no way you can speed these things up without causing some damage to your body and health. All good things take effort and time. So stop searching for shortcuts and put in the work. Think long term of your goals in a timeframe of years and not of weeks.
Final takeaway 💯
On a closing note, I have to mention one thing that probably sums up this episode well. You can look like a goddess only if you train like a warrior. Moving 1kg dumbbells through the air and running endlessly on the treadmill would get you nowhere.
In the gym, you have to sweat, grunt and make ugly face contortions which happen only when you are pushing past your physical limits in the weight training section. You have to learn to love heavy squats and deadlifts. You have to love the sound of iron plates clanking as you load up your barbell.
There is nothing more mentally empowering than the feeling of lifting really really heavy weight. You have to embrace this powerful animalistic side of you in the weight room so that in the real world you can have an elegant, feminine, toned yet strong body.
What has been your personal experience with weight-training as a woman? Let me know.
Follow Workday Physique on Instagram for free fitness and nutrition tips.
🎯 3-Bullet Thursday
Every Thursday, I send out an exclusive newsletter with 3 of the coolest things I have explored that week. It can include exclusive giveaways, books, articles, actionable fitness tips, lifehacks and all other sorts of weird stuff I dig around from the real world and the internet. Sign up here to get this newsletter. 📧