Understanding the Basics of Hypertrophy:
I’d first like to define hypertrophy. Hypertrophy describes the process of building muscle and losing fat. Becoming good at building muscle essentially describes having achieved a physique that is both low in fat and high in muscle. Becoming a successful bodybuilder often entails learning how to tweak your diet for maximum effectiveness and optimising your sleep and nutrition to suit your goals of hypertrophy. This process can be described as a science, it actually is one, it however also covers a lot of important life lessons. I have written an article about the positive life lessons that I learnt through bodybuilding here. I cannot stress the impact of bodybuilding on a way to become your best self enough, its power has transmitted positivity on most facets of my life, and has encouraged me to live my most healthy life.
Aesthetics vs. Health:
Many females who have not become aware of lifting weights or have no experience doing so envision a bodybuilder as being a massive, steroid-filled man who gulps down egg white smoothies at the gym, while this stereotype is as old as the sport of bodybuilding, it is far from the norm. Bodybuilding essentially describes having muscle mass with low body fat. So if anybody is going to any extreme, it is because they desire that particular amount of muscle and/or that little body fat. It is important to be educated on the subject because it is my personal belief that this stereotype can be preventing some girls and guys from reaching their full potential in terms of confidence, a more attractive physical appearance and a healthy lifestyle.
Fitness is a way of living and breathing. My approach towards fitness has always been to encourage health rather than focus on pure aesthetics. While I do have goals pertaining to particular muscle groups, I think that an overall honest look at fitness entails that aesthetics (physical attractiveness) be given more value. The reason I would highlight this distinction is because nobody hates cardio, yet they hate bodybuilding, the same amount of time is spent lifting and doing cardio, yet one creates more enviable figures, so why the hate?
Do not fear the weights, fear the treadmill (and other simplifications)
Developing a toned physique is both beneficial for confidence and overall wellbeing. Having said that, I will dedicate this article to the psychological benefits for women on achieving a well-built physique and more importantly, rest assured that I give you, my readers, tips on maximising hypertrophy (fat loss + muscle gain) so that you can truly become your best strongest selves.
I have provided you, my readers with a great article for understanding the gender differences between males and females for training. Here is Menno Henselman’s article on the natural muscular potential of women.
Males and females can actually get as strong and as muscular, of course, pertaining to their own frames (women will not become monsters). This is good news because it means that stereotypes aside, women can achieve an incredible aesthetic naturally. Here are some interesting take-aways I have taken from Menno’s article.
- Focus on slower tempo. A woman’s strength with weights is in slow and controlled contractions (squeezes).
- Take longer rest periods, your body is naturally inclined towards endurance, as is stated in Menno Henselman’s article, so take advantage of this in order to boost your performance at the gym. This strength will get you through longer sets or longer duration workouts.
- Hormonally, your body has more fat. It is more intelligent than you think meaning that the estrogen and fats in your system can actually be a benefit towards muscle growth. This is interesting because if you think about the female aesthetic, especially with emphasis on glutes (butt muscle) and toned legs, the fat naturally complements the muscle even if the woman is very muscular (of course, not the case with females who take steroids, in my opinion at least).
While males start off physically larger than females, it does not always end up this way in terms of building the most muscles your frame can have. Meaning man and a woman are not fixed in their muscle potential. Menno did highlight how socio-cultural norms may impact views on strength. So females, especially Lebanese ones, do not train like men, only envision yourself as strong and follow a healthy and well structured plan that emphasises muscle growth and fat loss and the previously written tips on technique.
- Males can benefit from more explosive training, as it is their strength. Their central nervous systems are wired for that extra sensitivity which can be a huge strength for explosive lifts such as plyometrics and olympic lifts. Aside from being socially encouraged to develop more physical strength, understanding that your intuition is wired towards excelling in sprints, and faster lifts can improve your training in a variety of different ways.