How Much Muscle Can A Female Put On With Resistance Training?
A very interesting paper from 2019 titled “The Effect of Resistance Training in Women on Dynamic Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review with Meta‑analysis” has a few nuggets of gold for the lady lifters out there! To date this is actually the first paper that has reviewed what we know about how resistance training (RT) effects females. The study searched through a bunch of papers (14,067 to be precise) where strictly female strength trainees were studied and found 24 papers that fit their inclusion criteria for the research analysis. The good news is that RT does improve strength and hypertrophy- yay but also duh! And even better news is that this paper gives some REAL recommendations that practitioners can provide (as a ball park) to clients on how much muscle they can expect to gain in a training block (note the studies included were on untrained females with an average age of 27, but it’s a start). Ok, are you ready! The magic number? The paper reported that on average, an untrained female strength athlete might expect to build 1.45kg of muscle over an average 15 weeks of training (range 0.4-3.3kg) and within that time increase strength by 25% (range 4-40%). But what I really want to know is, did these ladies have their nutrition optimised whilst undertaking these programs? Could it be that if they were consuming adequate calories and had their protein intake optimised that this number could be increased? If anyone out there has a spare $100K and 4 years, we could get that questions answered. However, as this was a strictly training focused research paper, and any studies that had a concurrent nutrition intervention were left out, we might just need to start with that number as a ball park figure and hope that more of this fabulous female focused research comes out. The research on how much protein is needed is pretty conclusive, ans we can generally assume this covers female athletes. Philips and Van Loon (2011), two protein research rock stars, specified that a protein intake of 1.3-2g/kg body weight spread over 3-4 meals is to support lean muscle.