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How to Build Muscle for Women: Get the Facts


Strength training hasn’t always been the most popular topic among women. Weight training was long considered something for men. Lucky for women, times change and muscle strength is no longer off-limits. In fact, understanding how to build muscle for women can help you prevent bone loss and injury as you age while improving your overall quality of life. Learn the truth about muscle growth in women. Plus, how your hormones, your diet, and specific exercises can help you gain muscle.

Menstrual cycle and muscle growth

Do you want to start building muscle, but you don’t know where to begin? Start with your hormones: if you know what phase of your cycle you are in, you can use this valuable information to sync your training to your calendar.

One female sex hormone that is especially important for muscle growth is estrogen. Studies have shown that the hormone (which is particularly “active” during ovulation) can boost the production of protein and thus stimulate muscle growth. So doing different workouts during various phases of your cycle might help you build muscle more efficiently (i.e. strength building during ovulation when estrogen levels are at their highest will be more effective then strength building during menstruation). Here are some recommendations on different workouts in the adidas Training app that are suitable for the various stages: 

Want to learn more about how your cycle stages interact with your nutrition and fitness? Get more information here.

Mikaela Shiffrin working out

Good to know:

A US study found that birth control pills can limit muscle growth.(2) Women who didn’t take the pill, however, gained up to 60% more muscle mass.

Muscle GROWTH makes you stronger – inside and out

As you begin your journey toward muscle growth, it’s important to remember that building muscle has a multitude of benefits for women. Not only does it boost your metabolism, which turns your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine, but it also does wonders for your self-confidence. You will stand taller and feel more sure about yourself when you walk into a room. Plus, strength training has been shown to slow bone loss, reducing the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis.

If you’re worried about bulking up, don’t bother; men and women who work out three to five times a week will not experience the same muscle growth. Women’s testosterone levels are about 20% lower than men’s, which means if you do want to get those biceps and triceps bulging, you’ll have to seriously increase your calorie intake and target workouts to reach your goal.

Muscle growth

Why you shouldn’t skip cardio

It goes without saying that cardio should be part of your training routine. Workouts outdoors or on a treadmill, elliptical, or stepper are great, especially if you are looking to burn calories. But less fat doesn’t necessarily mean firm tissue. That is where muscle or strength training comes in.

If you are interested in achieving lasting weight loss success or improving your general health and fitness, the best way is a combination of cardio workouts, bodyweight training and, of course, a balanced diet.

Eat right: Tips for forging muscle

A proper diet is essential to build muscle. The following foods can help you get stronger:

  • Water: Did you know that your muscles are largely made of water? Make sure to get plenty of fluids through your diet: salad and other vegetables contain a lot of water.
  • Eggs: You need plenty of protein to build muscle. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein.
  • Legumes: Beans and lentils not only contain protein, but zinc, too. The latter is especially important for muscle growth. Without it your body cannot build muscle. Our tip: Avoid eating legumes before your workout. They are high in fiber and thus heavy on the stomach.
  • Berries: These fruits are true nutritional powerhouses. Berries not only help you lose weight, but they also promote muscle growth.
  • Meat and fish: After an intense workout, meat and fish help you replenish your protein stores.
  • Nuts: Different varieties like walnuts, almonds, or Brazil nuts contain protein and many important fatty acids. You also shouldn’t forget about vegetable fats (like olive oil and canola oil).

6 good reasons why you should begin bodyweight training today:

Do you need a little extra motivation? Here are six reasons why you should try bodyweight training:

  1. It will enhance your performance.
  2. It will whip you into shape and tone your entire body.
  3. It will improve your strength and your posture.
  4. It will really boost your metabolism.
  5. It will strengthen your immune system.
  6. …and it will increase your self-confidence!

So, do you want to start bodyweight training? Check out our new workouts in the adidas Training app and find workouts that will help you train in rhythm with your hormone cycle. 



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