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When most people think of muscle building, they think of big bulky guys spending hours at the gym. But muscle building isn’t just for men, in fact many women can reap the benefits of building muscle without worrying about gaining big and bulky muscles. Strength training is beneficial for both men and women, but the results that men and women receive will be different.

Women are often fearful of becoming too bulky but they are missing one thing critical to gaining muscle bulk, testosterone. It is both genetics and testosterone that allow men to build bulkier muscles when they start muscle building. Women on the other hand, will typically gain lean muscle. There’s no way around it, men and women are just made differenty.

To begin with, men and women often have different motivations for working out. Men enjoy it as a sport and for the camaraderie and competition. Men also don’t mind getting sweaty and leaving the gym that way. Men naturally tend to have more upper body strength than women (and focus on that) , while women focus more on lower body strength. It’s easier for men to build muscle because they naturally have a large amount of the muscle enhancing testosterone hormone found in their body.

Women also go to the gym for camaraderie, but they are more in tune with the mind, body and spirit aspect of fitness. They typically have a more balanced approach to their fitness program and mix cardio, strength and stretching exercises. They have much less muscle mass than men so they won’t bulk up as quickly. However, this also means that at rest, women will burn less fat than men.

Women also take instruction better and are more likely to seek out the recommendations of a personal trainer. They struggle to make the time to workout, especially when they are already juggling jobs, family responsibilities on top of being the nurturer and caretaker for their loved ones.

Men and women are also prone to store fat differently. While men tend to have and store more visceral fat around the organs in the abdominal cavity. In their younger years, women tend to store fat in their hips and thighs (the only exception being if a woman falls under the ‘apple shape’ category).

Women generally have a harder time losing lower body fat, especially belly fat, and this only gets worse as women get older. This is due to a number of factors including hormonal changes, insulin resistance and reduced efficiency of the thyroid. When estrogen levels start to decrease around the time of menopause, it becomes even more difficult for women to lose body fat around the mid-section.

But not all aspects of muscle building are different between men and women. For example, both men and women are in danger of injuring themselves if they choose to overtrain or if they are unable to use proper form while they are training.