How Can Women Benefit From Building Lean Muscles?

Time to read 5 min

Most women still shy away from exploring options for building muscle mass. There is this common misconception that working out to build muscle will cause women to bulk up and become bigger in size. However, the truth is that women are not built to bulk up, and unless they try to achieve that result, working out and building muscle mass can actually make you leaner! 

There are three major parameters we can measure in women to gauge their level of fitness and health. Body fat percentage is one of them. A body fat percentage of more than 32% is considered too much for women. Fit women, however, have a body fat percentage of no more than 24%.  

The second parameter to be measured is bone density. Osteoporosis is known to follow menopause in almost all women, and decreasing bone density increases the risk of fractures. In such circumstances, strength training- not just any exercise but systematically lifting weights- can actually help strengthen the bones and reclaim some of the lost strength.  As always, it is best to begin strength training before problems set in, and not after. 

The T and Z scores are statistical parameters that measure a person’s bone density against the standard for their age, and for younger people respectively. While we won’t get into the calculation of them at this point, but in general, an increasing T-score as compared to the standard causes a proportionate increase in fracture risk.  By measuring this parameter often during strength training, we can aim to get as close to the standard values as possible. 

The third parameter that makes a difference to women and their health is the proportion of lean muscles they have. What are lean muscles? Lean muscles are essentially a colloquial term used to describe those muscles whose efficacy is not obstructed by fat. A higher percentage of lean muscles in the body can increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), allowing you to feel better overall, and to indulge in healthy foods from time to time without excessive fluctuations in weight. 

Let us take an example of a woman who is a novice marathon runner. We know that marathon running is more about endurance than anything else. How can lean muscle mass help build endurance? Having lean muscles decreases the body fat percentage and proportionately increases the strength of voluntary muscles, thus allowing them to not be fatigued as often, and helping marathon runners run for longer. Likewise, stronger bones come from stronger tendons, which means that women now have the flexibility to run as much as they like without injuring themselves in the process. 

Zumba and CrossFit are other examples of exercises that not only function as cardio exercises, but also help in strength training. Zumba’s immense popularity has roots in its fun element, but there are several variants to the dance-exercise that can also serve as strength training activities. For example, aqua Zumba uses water as the resisting agent, while Zumba toning uses weights in different parts of the body to achieve similar effects. Another fitness trend, CrossFit, is taking the fitness world by storm, and several sports retailers are using CrossFit even as a form of advertising their products. Trainers across the world are incorporating strength elements into CrossFit, and even patenting their programs! Ask your CrossFit trainer about using CrossFit as a strength training module. 

We’ve discussed the whys, we have also talked about the whats and wheres. Let us now spend a moment to discuss how building bone strength, reducing body fat and building lean muscles can benefit you in your everyday activities. In an excellent blog article, IdealShape’s sports nutritionist Lindsey Matthews talks about the benefits of muscles, especially from a woman’s perspective. She says that losing fat and building muscle can actually give you the strength to do more- more of the activities you love without being tired or fatigued. 

Haven’t we all wondered why we get so tired by early evening, and thought of ways to make ourselves feel better? The answer may just lie in building up strength from the inside! Here are a few ways in which muscles can help you under different circumstances. 

  • Pregnant women who have been practicing strength training for a while can benefit from reduced weight gain during pregnancy, and can also significantly reduce their risk for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Research has shown no adverse effects on the newborn when the mother exercises often. The key to strength training during pregnancy is to lift lesser weights more often.
  • Women athletes often aim for a body fat percentage of less than 20%. This helps them in several ways- it helps them endure the sport longer, it keeps them from having cravings and it also helps them perform more flexibly.
  • Working professionals have a predominantly sedentary life. Research shows that women begin to automatically lose muscle mass post-thirty, and this leads to greater and greater fatigue over time. In this context, strength training can help increase the strength of the muscles and keep women active for longer. 

If there is just one reason for women to want to build muscles, it is to feel better overall. Even before the aesthetic attributes such as sculpting and toning come into play, the muscles help you be more active, improving your mood and performance significantly. 

How increased Bone Density helps

How reduced fat helps

How lean muscles help

Women athletes

Reduce the risk of falling and fractures during performance

Be more alert and active

Be more flexible and agile

Working women

A stronger spine allows for long periods of working, both in desk and active roles

Helps to compensate for sedentariness and a loss of body tone as a result

Increase RMR

Pregnant women

Helps women stay active even in pregnancy

Reduces the chances of weight gain and GDM

Increases flexibility, may make childbirth easier as pelvic floor muscles are involved

New mothers

Helps reduce the aches and pains that appear postpartum due to demands on the body

Helps them lose pregnancy weight easily since they’re already accustomed to a program.

Helps them stay on their feet for longer, and cope with energy demands


Essential to ensure good health and strength throughout their career

Helps increase their RMR so they’re about to cope with erratic food and sleep schedules

Gives them a tined appearance, something that is considered desirable

*Medical Disclaimer - The following information is for educational purposes only. No information provided on this website, including text, graphic, and images, are intended as substitutes for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about specific medical advice pertaining to your condition(s)

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