By Julz Darroch
Back in the straight world, I have spent half a career educating women that no matter how many weights they lift they won't get big ole muscles and end up looking like a man.
While I wasn't lying reaaaally, the truth if you are inhabitant of a woman's body but seeking a more masculine or bulky physical appearance there are some tricks of the trade that you can enlist to give you an added advantage in the gaining muscle department so you do end up looking more like a man (or a less feminine woman).
Just as your shoe size and hair colour are determined by the heady mixture of dna that went into creating your body your ability to gain muscle is in part impacted by what you're born with.
Gender plays a big part, with the boys having a higher natural muscle mass than the girls but it's not the whole story, ethnicity plays a part as does good old fashioned luck- some of us got Uncle Jack's laugh, some got Aunt Ethel's washer women arms.
Fairness would dictate our body type would reflect how we express ourselves but it ain't necessarily so- for every girly girl who's working her curves there's a boi who's doing everything she can to conceal hers.
If you are looking at gain investigate increasing your lean protein intake to assist with muscle growth. The obvious way is with a protein supplement powder but buyers beware: It's still about calories in/ calories out. If add protein supplements to your diet without adding extra exercise (or decreasing other calorie sources) you will end up gaining fat weight rather than muscle weight.
FOR THOSE USING SYNTHETIC ASSISTANCE
Testosterone is the weight training equivalent of Popeye's spinach, so those taking testosterone will find that any weight training will lead to bigger results, faster.
Testosterone intake on it's own will lead to increased muscle mass to a point but further size gains, if desired, can be increased through weight training.
Focus on compound exercises
Any exercise that crosses over a couple of muscle groups is called a compound exercise. The extra assistance you get from more than one muscle working means you can lift bigger weights, and bigger weights lead to bigger muscles.
An example- ditch the leg extensions and leg curls and instead use squats and lunges.
Use a variety of weights
Using dumbells gives you more definition and balance but using a bar means you can lift a heavier weight. Using weights machines are great if you want to do weights that you couldn't lift on your own. A combination of a bit of all and you get the best of both worlds.
The principle of overload means that you need to lift weights greater than you do in your every day life to get muscle gains. Back to my straight ladies, they need to lift something bigger than their handbags, for those who are already training with weights or have larger muscles in mind this means HEAVY. As in “I can do 10 of these but the last few will be bloody hard”. If you can get through your set without too much effort it's time to increase the weight.
Sets and Reps
There are a million theories regarding how many repetitions of an exercise, how many sets, what time of the day etc.
Bottom line, muscles can't count. Unless you are at an elite level working within the 6-15 rep, 2-3 sets range will take care of business, just stick to the principle of overload and you'll be right.
Smoke and mirrors
Here's the important bit. Assuming your going to put in the effort but want maximum bang for your buck, getting the maximum visual definition is about what muscles you spend the most time on.
When looking for a more masculine size the muscles that will make the most difference visually are your shoulders and back
Back in the bad old days body builders avoided cardio like the plague, thinking the fat burning properties would eat their muscles up, yum yum!
The truth is doing no cardio work isn't that good for your heart so keep it in your programme (A few old school bodybuilders learnt this the hard way when they dropped dead of heart attacks in their prime, that'll teach em!).
It's endurance work like long distance running or worshipping at the treadmill altar for ridiculous periods that'll make it harder to bulk up.
Any questions? Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Julz Darroch is a Wellington-based Personal Trainer and Fitness Educator with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry.
Originally published by GayNZ.com 4th February 2011; republished with permission.