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How important is testosterone for woman for hypertrophy?

There are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for women. Even to suggest women train differently than their male counterparts.

Although men start out with more muscle mass than woman, and higher absolute strength, long term relative increases in strength and hypertrophy are very similar for men and women when we compare similar conditions. Some evidence suggests that women build more muscle than men over a training career, relative to their starting point, particularly in the upper body (Nuckols, 2018).

"But men have more testosterone, right?" Perhaps, but the role of testosterone in the muscle building process, within natural levels, is typically overstated. Higher testosterone level may increase your "base" level of muscle, but to my understanding, doesn't have so much of an effect as people think on building new muscle tissue.

There are also a ton of other factors that influence strength and hypertrophy, beyond sex, including genetics, race, adiposity, training history, nutrition, social factors, etc, and these differences may rival or exceed the influence of sex (Heymsfield, 2015).

This isn't to say there are NO differences between men and women as it pertains to training, as there likely are. For example, some evidence suggests the female menstrual cycle could impact recovery and performance at the various stages. Additionally, woman may be less acutely fatigable than men and thus may be able to perform more reps at a given percentage 1RM than men. Although, I'm not an expert on female biology, so I won't make bold claims here.

In summary, contrary to popular belief, women can gain strength and muscle similar to their male counterparts via ratio to body weight with mirroring conditions. Women don't need a unique training approach and they certainly aren't less capable than men.

I see this all the time with the women past and current that I personally train and have conversation with in person and online as well. Current evidence and society is catching up to par as more and more females (and males) have more access to not only current evidence, but better training protocol. In fact personally, I see slightly higher ratio of young females taking advantage of the information that is available to all of us if we search it out beyond simply reading/viewing and repeating standard memes or IG and TikTok posts of- “Women can lift heavy and not be bulky”...as if the same cannot be true for men. It comes down to the individual and how they respond to training with all factors accounted for.

Replies

  • watts6151
    watts6151 Posts: 858 Member
    Lyles book covers pretty much everything a female needs to know about training/hormones etc, also a really Valuable training guide into training females

    https://store.bodyrecomposition.com/shop/the-womens-book-vol1/
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,016 Member
    Very reassuring info, especially for those of us women who are at an age when our hormone complement has tanked.

    There are plenty of photos around here from successful older lady lifters to support what you're saying.
  • claireychn074
    claireychn074 Posts: 589 Member
    Would be interested in any studies about the effect of oestrogen in building muscle, as I know it’s an anti- inflammatory hormone. So anecdotally it appears harder to build muscle after the menopause, but is that hormonal or merely tolerance to progressive overload as we age?
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,016 Member
    Would be interested in any studies about the effect of oestrogen in building muscle, as I know it’s an anti- inflammatory hormone. So anecdotally it appears harder to build muscle after the menopause, but is that hormonal or merely tolerance to progressive overload as we age?

    I'm sort of half interested and half "I don't wanna know" if it's going to be bad news, lol. I'm already fighting genetics (if ectomorph was a thing, I'd be a textbook example) in attempting to build muscle. Sometimes I think I'm better off sticking my head in the sand and pretending I'm going to succeed.

    If there are particular dietary or training strategies that would help offset the hormonal challenges, I'm all ears however.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,082 Member
    edited October 18
    Would be interested in any studies about the effect of oestrogen in building muscle, as I know it’s an anti- inflammatory hormone. So anecdotally it appears harder to build muscle after the menopause, but is that hormonal or merely tolerance to progressive overload as we age?

    Anything anti-inflammatory is literally a blocker towards MPS. Hence why besides the obvious, ibuprofen isn't especially recommended for those who train. Inflammation from useful stress(resistance training) is that...very useful. Without it MPS is very difficult.

    There are a lot of factors as we grow towards advanced age some are...

    1. How efficient we absorb & process protien..
    2. General health including sarcopenia(which can be reversed).


    Then we have factors that go across the board of all ages.

    1. How male we are.
    2. How anabolic resistant we are.

    Your question is an intetesting one for sure.
  • claireychn074
    claireychn074 Posts: 589 Member
    I actually had a look after I posted this and I didn’t find that many studies. There was one or two meta-studies, but the data they analysed was small and frequently included mice and men (sounds like a rock track 🤣). I know that women historically have been excluded from medical trials owing to hormonal changes affecting results, and it’s why the side effects on women of many drugs have not been studied. I think menopausal women have had even less research, but that might change as pharma realises there is money to be made.