Sculpted arms, popping shoulders, and bootylicious booties aren’t made by working them off – they’re built by the age–old art of bodybuilding.
The source of my tears are a group of 40 women. Well, plus one: their coach, Kourtney Thomas. This is all her fault, really.
I’m crying because I’m watching a flexathon of bursting biceps and big grins; hands sliding over rounder, higher haunches as they describe more booty developing and increasingly defined quads; gleefully celebrating new muscle striations in their shoulders. The new ripples look like 3D tiger stripes. These women are rejoicing because they feel bigger, inside and out.
The crew was selected last fall to embark on a special resistance-training endeavor called The Bigness Project. Over the course of the 14-week program, they were to try to pack as much muscle as possible onto their frames during that time.
Obviously I’m joking—everyone knows women don’t want to get muscular (or worse, the dreaded “bulky)!
But [whispering]: What if that assumption is incorrect? What if some of us really do want to look like we lift?
What if we stopped pretending otherwise, and admitted that yes, we WOULD like to look strong and muscular; gunsy, even?
After having to cap registrations for The Bigness Project after a scant two hours, we found that assumption to be flat wrong. In fact, it turns out that response wasn’t a fluke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a recommendation that all women do some sort of muscle-strengthening movement at least two days a week, and research indicates they are hitting the weight room in ever-increasing numbers.
It’s not just entertainment and gym selfies, however. Having more muscle mass is fantastic for your health; some refer to it as a veritable fountain of youth due to benefits such as:
So you see muscles are for women. They can be for you, if you want them to be. And resistance-training is the means to that end.
Hypertrophy training is, essentially, striking that perfect balance between workout volume, training frequency, exercise selection, amount of weight you use, rest times, and a myriad of other factors in order to build the biggest muscle size that you can.
Decades of research in exercise science lay the groundwork for the ingredients in this special sauce. You need to choose the right exercises, you need to perform them correctly (not just technique, but how you do every repetition matters), you need the exact amount of volume to stimulate growth but not hamper recovery, you need to create metabolic stress by manipulating rest times, and the list goes on and on. But like any recipe, the devil is in the fine details.
The thing is, I’m not a hypertrophy specialist. It takes deep, unrelenting attention to keeping up with the science and experimenting with the art to be a great hypertrophy coach. I know when I’m out of my depth, so…