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Articles on the efficacy of weight training for women?

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  • #31
    Most of the photoessays on "don't women who lift heavy look sexy!" are profiling women who are in the lowest weight classes. A woman who is lifting in 181 or 198 may get respect for the iron she moves, but she won't get that "women lifters are sexy" bit.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Leida View Post
      Athletic look requires the same or lower BF% as the runway model. It is far harder to achieve because you have to train on cross-purposes - for gaining muscle and losing body fat. While men have larger muscle and naturally lower body fat, women have smaller muscle and higher body fat. So, an athletic body, i.e. a body with visible muscle, and no jiggle and bulges, firm, is very hard to achieve for a woman.
      I don't think a woman needs to have a runway-level body fat to look athletic. If you take two women with average body fat and give one more lean body mass (something heavy weights are great for), she will look better and even more defined because her muscles are larger. The problem with this is many women fear numbers and sizes. It's not the muscular butt, it's the fact that you need larger jeans. It's not the muscular torso, it's that you weigh more.

      Ask a typical woman if she would like more strength and lean muscle (you have to say lean because if you just say muscle it will automatically be equated with giant, hairy, testosterone, steroid-driven bodybuilding bulky muscles). She will say "sure". Now say that doing so will make her 20lb heavier. It doesn't matter if it's lean body mass, it will still strike fear because the scale will now read higher.

      Originally posted by Leida View Post
      It's a fallacy to think that there is on one hand a healthy athletic goddess, and on another - a starved waif with no muscle. They both will need 15% BF or less, and both will be more or less starved depending on their natural appetite level.
      It's also a fallacy to think that looking good means either being rail thin or a full blown athlete. Muscle looks good on everyone, men and women. Men want muscle openly but usually don't attain it. Women are typically afraid of muscle, and think they will easily attain it should they touch a barbell. The point is that making a woman put some muscle on her, without fear of being "bulky", or weighing more, or being a bit larger, will make her, at least certainly in my opinion, look better.

      Let's do a hypothetical. Suppose you have two twin women, they are identical in every way. They both have an average body composition. They decide to improve how they look. One decides to eat a lot less, do a lot of cardio, sit-ups, light weights, etc, i.e. do what the majority of women do. The other decides to lift heavy and eat better, i.e. do "man" exercises, and eat normally but with healthier food, such as the diet advocated here. Give them both a year. Who will look better? Who will be healthier and perform better? Who will have a lifestyle that is indefinitely sustainable? Which would you rather be?

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      • #33
        Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
        Most of the photoessays on "don't women who lift heavy look sexy!" are profiling women who are in the lowest weight classes. A woman who is lifting in 181 or 198 may get respect for the iron she moves, but she won't get that "women lifters are sexy" bit.
        That applies to both sexes though. What percentage of women find heavyweight bodybuilders sexy? Google Ronnie Coleman, for example, is he sexy? Is a 330lb powerlifter sexy? There's a huge (and sexy) gray area between minimal muscle/no weightlifting, and being a heavy strength athlete.

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        • #34
          It's also a fallacy to think that looking good means either being rail thin or a full blown athlete. Muscle looks good on everyone, men and women. Men want muscle openly but usually don't attain it. Women are typically afraid of muscle, and think they will easily attain it should they touch a barbell. The point is that making a woman put some muscle on her, without fear of being "bulky", or weighing more, or being a bit larger, will make her, at least certainly in my opinion, look better.
          Since starting to do more with weights- starting 6 months ago, 2 things happened that improved my looks- shoulders got broader with makes your waist look smaller and butt got some lift. Without being ripped or lean, women can use weights to manipulate their body shape and proportions. The women at my CF all have the V shape on their upper bodies and nicely shaped butts. To me, that look is 500x better than 1. the apple of a non fit person or 2. the wiry runner look and for me, more attractive than skinny fat.

          I have some damn stumpy legs and nothing I do is going to make them look like a dancers. But at least I can have them topped with a proportionate ass, broader shoulders and a smaller waist, even if I have more fat than is desirable on that frame.

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          Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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          • #35
            Originally posted by quikky View Post
            I don't think a woman needs to have a runway-level body fat to look athletic. If you take two women with average body fat and give one more lean body mass (something heavy weights are great for), she will look better and even more defined because her muscles are larger. The problem with this is many women fear numbers and sizes. It's not the muscular butt, it's the fact that you need larger jeans. It's not the muscular torso, it's that you weigh more.

            Ask a typical woman if she would like more strength and lean muscle (you have to say lean because if you just say muscle it will automatically be equated with giant, hairy, testosterone, steroid-driven bodybuilding bulky muscles). She will say "sure". Now say that doing so will make her 20lb heavier. It doesn't matter if it's lean body mass, it will still strike fear because the scale will now read higher.
            Basically you are saying the same thing twice: that a woman of average body fat will look better if she adds 20 pounds of muscle while maintaining that fat as a constant.

            Body Fat Percentage Pictures of Men & Women - BuiltLean

            Average body fat for women is 25-31%. 20 pounds of muscle added to that is going to be 1-2 dress sizes.

            That's enough padding that if, as your examples say, she adds muscle while keeping her fat layer the same thickness, she will look bulkier, not leaner. It is losing fat that makes one look leaner, not adding muscle while maintaining the fat. She really would end up a larger size.

            Women can be convinced that strength exercise will make them leaner and stronger. But stronger and bulkier is going to be a real hard sell. What you're arguing is not what you think you are saying.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
              Basically you are saying the same thing twice: that a woman of average body fat will look better if she adds 20 pounds of muscle while maintaining that fat as a constant.
              I am not sure I follow you. What am I saying twice?

              Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
              That's enough padding that if, as your examples say, she adds muscle while keeping her fat layer the same thickness, she will look bulkier, not leaner. It is losing fat that makes one look leaner, not adding muscle while maintaining the fat. She really would end up a larger size.
              I disagree. More muscle with the same body fat percentage will produce a leaner look. Consider the body of a sprinter vs a supermodel, which looks leaner? The body fat is low in both cases but because the sprinter is more muscular, there is more muscle definition, thus creating a leaner look.

              Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
              Women can be convinced that strength exercise will make them leaner and stronger. But stronger and bulkier is going to be a real hard sell. What you're arguing is not what you think you are saying.
              You're underlining my point precisely. Dress sizes and scales will ultimately determine the training, not actual looks or results. Bulkier woman from muscle is a different body shape than a bulkier woman from just fat gain.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by quikky View Post
                I am not sure I follow you. What am I saying twice?
                You are saying that a woman who is average in body fat (25-31%) who adds 20 pounds of muscle, a whole lot of muscle for a woman to add, is going to look leaner. That is your opinion, and it is pure conjecture that her body fat will not be mostly obscuring those attractive muscles.

                I disagree. More muscle with the same body fat percentage will produce a leaner look. Consider the body of a sprinter vs a supermodel, which looks leaner? The body fat is low in both cases but because the sprinter is more muscular, there is more muscle definition, thus creating a leaner look.
                Here you are switching from average body fat, which you have been using as in illustration, to sprinter/supermodel level of body fat. I would dispute that a supermodel is as lean as a sprinter. But in any case, your illustration is irrelevant to women of average body fat levels.

                You're underlining my point precisely. Dress sizes and scales will ultimately determine the training, not actual looks or results. Bulkier woman from muscle is a different body shape than a bulkier woman from just fat gain.
                We're not talking about adding fat to an average woman. Again, you are changing your argument. For you to say that a woman of average body fat, probably size 14-16, should be willing to add 2 dress sizes in order to meet your arbitrary standards of strength and beauty (standards which I would doubt you actually use yourself when choosing who to ogle) is nothing short of bizarre.

                Women who already have a thick layer of body fat (= average) will not appear leaner if they pack on a whole lot of muscle, unlike supermodels.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                  You are saying that a woman who is average in body fat (25-31%) who adds 20 pounds of muscle, a whole lot of muscle for a woman to add, is going to look leaner. That is your opinion, and it is pure conjecture that her body fat will not be mostly obscuring those attractive muscles.
                  Bigger muscles are more visible given the same body fat. This isn't conjecture, this is a simple fact. Of course two women with 25% body fat are equally lean, but the more muscular one will have more muscle definition, i.e. will look leaner.

                  Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                  Here you are switching from average body fat, which you have been using as in illustration, to sprinter/supermodel level of body fat. I would dispute that a supermodel is as lean as a sprinter. But in any case, your illustration is irrelevant to women of average body fat levels.
                  The illustration is very relevant because it presents a more sharp contrast when discussing muscles and body fat. Say two people have a 1/2" of fat on top of their abdominal muscles. One has small muscles that don't pop forward, the other has larger ones that do, which one will have a more defined look? Wrap the same fat and skin around a bigger muscle and it will be more visible.

                  Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                  We're not talking about adding fat to an average woman. Again, you are changing your argument. For you to say that a woman of average body fat, probably size 14-16, should be willing to add 2 dress sizes in order to meet your arbitrary standards of strength and beauty (standards which I would doubt you actually use yourself when choosing who to ogle) is nothing short of bizarre.
                  I don't know what argument I am making that I am also changing. Apparently, I also have "standards of strength and beauty" that women must meet. I wasn't aware I had them, to be honest, maybe you can elaborate on what they are.

                  My point is that to me, muscle looks good on women, and they shouldn't be afraid of gaining it.

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                  • #39
                    I think he's basically talking about this

                    What the female body looks like at different body fat percentages

                    15% vs 15% picture particularly.

                    Really I encourage my wife to lift some weights cause lean mass is healthy and it promotes metabolic fitness. No other reason needed for me.

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                    • #40
                      [QUOTE=quikky;1169131]Bigger muscles are more visible given the same body fat. This isn't conjecture, this is a simple fact. Of course two women with 25% body fat are equally lean, but the more muscular one will have more muscle definition, i.e. will look leaner.

                      No this isn't true. If two people have the same 25% BF, the one with more muscle will not look leaner in fact she will look bulkier. If we are using the 25% picture on leangains depending on the height of the person and body composition the more muscular person almost always look thicker. Just take a look at gymnast, they certainly carry quite a bit of muscle mass but if you put them at 25% BF, then they look really bulky.

                      I know this to be true for myself. I have enough muscle mass for my liking. I would classify myself in the 20-22% BF and if I were 10 lbs heavier, I look really thick especially my thighs and arms. One needs to shed the excess BF in order to see muscle definition and this goes for both men and women.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                        I think he's basically talking about this

                        What the female body looks like at different body fat percentages

                        15% vs 15% picture particularly.

                        Really I encourage my wife to lift some weights cause lean mass is healthy and it promotes metabolic fitness. No other reason needed for me.
                        Actually, that's exactly what I'm referring to as well. The woman at 30% is not going to look leaner if she puts on 20 pounds of muscle while keeping her body fat layer the same. She's going to look bulky. The chart doesn't show large numbers of women who are carrying different amounts of muscle mass.

                        15% is highly atypical, and has nothing to do with "average body fat".

                        That's why women won't exercise hard. Because they have guys telling them they need to gain weight and increase dress size from large to XL or even larger. It's no wonder women won't listen to men who date skinny women and turn around and tell women whose goal is to stop being so fat that they should gain weight.
                        Last edited by eKatherine; 04-23-2013, 05:43 PM.

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                        • #42
                          ^ I gotcha. Yeah, your right with regards to someone whose carrying that layer already. More muscle will simply make them more bulky.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by cayla29s View Post
                            No this isn't true. If two people have the same 25% BF, the one with more muscle will not look leaner in fact she will look bulkier. If we are using the 25% picture on leangains depending on the height of the person and body composition the more muscular person almost always look thicker. Just take a look at gymnast, they certainly carry quite a bit of muscle mass but if you put them at 25% BF, then they look really bulky.

                            I know this to be true for myself. I have enough muscle mass for my liking. I would classify myself in the 20-22% BF and if I were 10 lbs heavier, I look really thick especially my thighs and arms. One needs to shed the excess BF in order to see muscle definition and this goes for both men and women.
                            You're confusing size with definition. You can be big and defined, just like you can be slim and soft.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                              Actually, that's exactly what I'm referring to as well. The woman at 30% is not going to look leaner if she puts on 20 pounds of muscle while keeping her body fat layer the same. She's going to look bulky. The chart doesn't show large numbers of women who are carrying different amounts of muscle mass.
                              See my post above.

                              Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                              15% is highly atypical, and has nothing to do with "average body fat".

                              That's why women won't exercise hard. Because they have guys telling them they need to gain weight and increase dress size from large to XL or even larger. It's no wonder women won't listen to men who date skinny women and turn around and tell women whose goal is to stop being so fat that they should gain weight.
                              I'm sorry but this is just complete rubbish. The vast majority of men and women who care about looks are obsessed with "abs" and being skinny. I don't know where you're finding these all these men with skinny girlfriends that are telling overweight women to become even more overweight and just lift weights.

                              You've also warped and twisted my point into something that's neither my point, nor has much to do with the discussion. I'm not saying that if a woman has a lot of body fat, all she needs to do is some deadlifts and she will look perfect. I'm also not saying that big muscles on a woman will give her six-pack abs. What I am saying is women are, generally, afraid of muscle, and that I, as one guy on a forum giving his opinion, think that muscle makes women look better and that they should stop worrying so much about being skinny and just losing body fat, and that working with heavy weights will have a positive impact on how they look and feel. That's all that I am saying.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by quikky View Post
                                See my post above.
                                I did. And it is rubbish. The idea that a woman with 30% bodyfat is going to be "defined" if she puts on an unnatural amount of muscle is absurd.

                                I'm sorry but this is just complete rubbish. The vast majority of men and women who care about looks are obsessed with "abs" and being skinny. I don't know where you're finding these all these men with skinny girlfriends that are telling overweight women to become even more overweight and just lift weights.
                                Women are not obsessed with "abs". They don't care about them at all. They would prefer not to have theirs show. It is guys who are obsessed with abs.

                                I admit I don't know whether your other half is hefty or lean. But right here you are the one who is using an example of a borderline obese woman who you think would look lots better if she remained obese but put on as much muscle as a guy would put on.

                                You've also warped and twisted my point into something that's neither my point, nor has much to do with the discussion. I'm not saying that if a woman has a lot of body fat, all she needs to do is some deadlifts and she will look perfect.
                                Could have fooled me. That "average" woman who you want to put on 20 pounds of muscle could have up to 31% body fat, which would make her clinically obese.

                                I'm also not saying that big muscles on a woman will give her six-pack abs.
                                You keep bringing up abs and women, as though you think women want 6 pack abs.

                                What I am saying is women are, generally, afraid of muscle, and that I, as one guy on a forum giving his opinion, think that muscle makes women look better and that they should stop worrying so much about being skinny and just losing body fat, and that working with heavy weights will have a positive impact on how they look and feel. That's all that I am saying.
                                Women are afraid of looking bulky, which could happen to the average woman if she puts on muscle without losing excess body fat, given that the average woman is overweight or even obese. They've probably experienced working out for endless hours and putting on weight. But given the choice of being lean and muscular, they'd choose that over obesity any day. If it was really a choice.

                                When I was a size 2X, I don't think putting on 20 pounds of muscle would have improved my enjoyment of life. If I'd had a real option of becoming lean (20%) and muscular, I'd have jumped at it. Hey, I did, and I'm almost there.

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