Insulin is the “storage” hormone. When it is secreted fat burning is blunted. By controlling insulin secretion by choosing low GI carbs you can decrease fat gain/increase fat loss. Stable blood sugar levels also improve energy levels and ones mood. All of our diets as based around insulin control, leading to leaner muscle gains with little to no fat gain.


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Lie on your back on the floor, feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Hold medium-weight dumbbells directly over your shoulders, arms straight. This is the start position. Squeeze your shoulder blades, then bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering the dumbbells until your upper arms are on the ground. Pause, then press back up to the start. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets.
There are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for women, and there are a lot of reasons for those misconceptions.  Women are less likely to be represented in exercise research, women are less likely to take part in strength training or compete in strength sports, and there are still a lot of societal biases against women lifting (heavy) weights.
The term “adrenaline” is commonly used to refer to the body’s excitatory catecholamines, Epinephrine (E) and Norepinephrine (NE), which are regulators of lipolysis (fat breakdown). NE and E acts on receptors called adrenergic receptors of which there are alpha (1 & 2) and beta (1, 2, & 3) subtypes. Activation of the alpha1 and beta-receptors is lipolytic (causes fat breakdown) while activation of the alpha2 receptor is anti-lipolytic (blunts fat breakdown). Stubborn fat areas have a high density of alpha2 receptors, making it harder for fat breakdown to occur in that area. If you are a women this means you have a large amount of alpha2 receptors in your thighs and glutes.
Why she switched: As I’ve become a more advanced practitioner of yoga (I am now a yoga teacher and wellness influencer), I have been craving more. I used to leave a level 3, two-hour yoga class exhausted, but now I am ready for more. I also wanted a more drastic improvement in muscle mass. I have always been fairly thin and petite, but as I get older, I desire to have more of a physique. So, I decided to add in weightlifting about three or four weeks ago.
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 WomenStrength and GirlStrength are happy to set up booths or tables at events so that we can spread the word about the fantastic services the programs have to offer. Our booths provide program information, information and resources on violence against women, facts and myths about violence and sexual assault, as well as information and tips for personal safety.
As for muscle growth, there are certainly women who are genetically better at building muscle than other women… just like some men have better genetics for it than other men. But even then, the worst case scenario is that she builds whatever amount of muscle she’d like to build faster than the average woman can (which, by the way, is still fairly slow) and then just stops trying to build additional muscle beyond that point by simply training to maintain rather than progress.
What about cardio? Get stronger. That is what matters most when it comes to transforming your body. Extra movement is always a good thing, so you can aim for at least 30 minutes of light to moderate movement every day, or just on non-lifting days. You can do traditional cardio activities if you prefer (i.e., cardio machines), but I recommend doing something fun you actually enjoy.
Second . . . the amount of time and effort that is actually required to gain muscle is something women likely don’t think about much. Maybe the cardio addicts hear “lift heavy things” and immediately have a negative reaction based on 30 or so years of hype about how women should workout. I have always hung out with guys who lift and have heard the celebratory cheers for each and every gain made, so I went into the whole lifting thing with my eyes wide open. Kudos for pointing this out!

POPSUGAR Fitness is the health arm of the popular entertainment and media company, providing a break from the celebrity gossip and fashion pieces usually highlighted. With its origins in mind, it makes sense that the channel puts a focus on the most buzzworthy workouts of today—such as the Victoria’s Secret model workout shown above, or the plethora of celebrity-approved methods featured. However, the trend-factor is no reason to write-off the channel as trivial, as it also provides short breakdowns of often incorrectly performed exercises, such as the squat or even basic stretching. Further, the sheer variety of practices available—from The Bar Method to P90X—ensures that users can fill a full fitness plan from home.
For the first couple weeks, we'll use relatively lighter loads. We'll progress to using heavier loads as we move forward, but for now, don't push yourself beyond where you feel safe. Once you feel comfortable doing the movements and understand how they should feel, then you can start adding a more weight. Take full advantage of our exercise database by clicking on each exercise below for detailed instructions!

One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.

This is important. Lifting weights on stiff or “cold” joints and muscles will make it harder to move, and you’ll increase the risk of injury. If you’re weight training, warm your body up either with some cardiovascular activity that utilizes the muscles you’re going to work, or do a short set with a lighter amount of weight than you’re planning to use for your workout.
Add some dumbbells to your fitness routine and build some metabolism-boosting muscle while toning your entire body. We leave no muscle untouched with this workout, so grab a set of dumbbells between five and 25 pounds. Better yet, grab two sets — so you can challenge yourself on a few of the moves with heavier weights. The more often and consistently you lift, the more you will be able to lift!
Hold two light-to-medium-weight dumbbells with an overhand grip and let them hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift your left leg a few inches off the floor behind you; this is the starting position. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let your left leg stretch out behind you with your toes pointed down to the floor the entire time. The dumbbells should travel straight down toward the floor. Return to the starting position without letting the toes of your left foot touch the floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 sets per leg.
Perform three dumbbell weights sessions. You have easy access to weight training gear at the gym, where free weights and machines are at the ready. But dumbbell lifting can be done easily at the gym or at home. Try having dumbbells conveniently placed in the house so that it's easy to pump out a few dozen repetitions in between other activities or even while watching TV, videos, or listening to music. Check out the beginner resources to get familiar with how weight training works.

For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can't eke out another one without compromising your form. To spark further muscle building, William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, suggests alternating moderate-intensity workouts of 8 to 10 reps with lighter-weight 12- to 15-rep sets and super-hard 3- to 5-rep sets. (For a more detailed fat-blasting workout, check out "Do This at Home," below.)


Cardio history: I wouldn’t consider myself an avid runner, but it was my top-choice workout before I discovered lifting. I would run on treadmills or trails around a lake or hillsides, do some kind of kettlebell workout, followed by whatever diet fad I was on at the moment. One thing was clear to me: I wasn’t getting any results. Sure, running made me sweat like a maniac and gasp for air every second. But I was also injured quite often. I would consistently hurt my hips, knees and ankles.
Also note, testosterone isn’t the only relevant sex difference here.  There are sex differences in gene expression, sex differences in other anabolic hormones like IGF-1 (which may play a bigger role in women than men), and, obviously, sex differences in estrogen (which, contrary to popular belief, exerts anabolic effects in muscle tissue).  Testosterone is only one piece of a much larger picture that only gets more confusing and convoluted the more you look at it.  At the end of the day, it’s best to just remember the messiness of physiology and understand that outcomes (similar relative muscle growth and strength gains, supported by heaps of research) trump mechanisms (differences in testosterone levels) every time.

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If the running burns enough calories to put you into a deficit and cause fat loss, your legs will likely get smaller as a result of losing some of the fat that is on them. It’s also possible for some forms of intense running to build some lower body muscle. Then again, look at a bunch of marathon runners and you probably won’t see a muscular leg among them.
That’s why I included the analysis of studies lasting 20+ weeks, to specifically look at studies where that sort of effect wouldn’t influence the results as much.  That’s also why I separated upper body and lower body strength gains, as I’d expect this type of effect would be more prevalent for upper body strength than lower body strength.  In support of the hypothesis that “untrained” women may be more untrained than “untrained” men – especially when it comes to upper body strength – women gained strength faster than men in shorter studies but not longer studies, and in measures of upper body strength but not lower body strength.
Getting comfortable with a steady running routine is definitely something to be proud of, but when you're on that cardio grind day-in and day-out, you might be ready to change things up and take on a new challenge. Time to throw some strength training into the mix. It can be a little intimidating at first if you don't know where the hell to start, but understanding the basics can help you feel confident in your refreshed fitness routine.
Hold two dumbbells with an overhand grip and let them hang at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift your left leg a few inches off the floor behind you; this is the starting position. Keeping your lower back naturally arched, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let your left leg stretch out behind you with your toes pointed down to the floor the entire time. The dumbbells should travel straight down toward the floor. Return to the starting position without letting the toes of your left foot touch the floor. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 sets per leg.
Why she switched: I made the switch to more heavy lifting and dedicated powerlifting because I was always injured. I would get at least two injuries a year that would knock me out for two months, many of them stress fractures. So I knew I needed to build stronger bones, hips and glutes to support my endurance activities, and the light weightlifting wasn’t cutting it. A CrossFit gym near my house was starting an eight-week powerlifting class that was going to provide a program and culminate in a competition. It was great to have the support and coaching for the proper form. I ended up adapting quickly and falling in love with the heavy lifts and the powerlifting program. I broke six Illinois state records at the competition and was hooked. I also did not get injured that year.
Loved this weight training video! I am 70 years old and have been working with your videos and DVDs for about 5 years. Although I have always worked out, I really like the consistency of your workouts. I do everything from yoga to weight training to aerobic workouts 6 days a week. I had open heart surgery to remove a benign tumor from the ventricle of my heart a couple of years ago and know that your workouts before and after surgery helped me to a quick recovery. Many thanks!!

Your cardio will come in a couple different forms. On each day you train with weights, you'll do 20 minutes of high-intensity intervals. Choose an interval scheme that's challenging, but not impossible. Thirty seconds of all-out work, followed by 1 minute of recovery is usually a good place to start. One day per week, you'll do 30-45 minutes of low-intensity cardio. On these days, you can jump on your favorite cardio machine for some extra fat-burning.


If you don’t have a ball you can perform the exercises on the floor or a bench. For each exercise below perform 8-12 repetitions and rest for 30-60 seconds in between exercises. Move slowly through each exercise concentrating on proper form and continued breathing. And don’t forget, it’s always helpful to have guidance. If you have the ability to reach out to a fitness professional — even if it is just for one session — he or she can help take you through proper form and teach you how to move properly for your body. Enjoy your new fountain of youth.
Sit on the ground, with your right leg directly in front of you, bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground. Your left leg should be behind you, also bent 90 degrees at the knee, knee flat on the ground Your thighs should also form a 90-degree angle with each other. Now place your hands on the floor on each side of your right leg; slowly lower your chest toward your knee. Go only as low as you can while keeping your shoulders square. Pause and feel the stretch. Return to the start position, then swivel your hips so your left leg is now directly in front of you and repeat the process.
How: Begin seated with your back supported and 5- to 8-pound dumbbells resting at your shoulders. Sit up tall and ensure that your elbows are below your wrists. Press upward so that your elbows are in front of your body, and not out to the sides. End with the dumbbells directly over your head, palms forward, with elbows fully extended, but not locked. Slowly release down following the same pattern of movement, ending at the start position. That's one repetition. Aim for 10 to 12 reps.
There were 63 comparisons of strength gains, encompassing 3,332 subjects.  In these studies, men got 29.41% stronger, on average, while women got 37.42% stronger.  The average difference was 8.01%, with a 95% confidence interval from 4.59-11.43%. This was a significant difference (p<0.0001) and would be considered a small effect (d=0.34; 95% CI: 0.19-0.48).  On average, strength increased about 27% faster in women.

Calorie counting should not be a life-long endeavor. It just doesn't effectively work in the long term. Studies show that calorie counting is prone to inaccuracy by upward of 25 percent—even if you triple-check your calculations and sources! The discrepancy arises from measurement errors on food labels, serving sizes and measurements which are impossible to reproduce consistently, different food quality, and a whole lot of guesswork.


Lowers the risk of chronic disease: Not only will strength training help save off many chronic diseases, but it also helps lessen the symptoms of issues you may currently have. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends strength training for most older adults to help lessen the symptoms of the following chronic conditions: arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, back pain, depression.
Tracking what you do in the gym is critical because if you don’t, it’s unlikely that you will push yourself and the weights that you’re using.  This will slow down not only gym progress, but aesthetic progress as well. Keep track of what you’re doing in the gym, workout to workout, week to week, month to month. Write down your sets, reps, and the weight you used. Make notes about each workout (for example, “weight felt easy, can go up next week” or “feeling a little sluggish today, didn’t push it.”)  This will allow you to know when to push, and know when to take it easy.
Caffeine inhibits phosphodiesterase (PDE), causing a build-up of cAMP levels and greater effect of NE on fatty acid lipolysis. PDE blunts lipolysis; therefore inhibiting PDE allows lipolysis to proceed at an accelerated rate. The end result is there are more fatty acids available for oxidation after consumption of caffeine. Caffeine increases the release of fat from body fat stores so it can be burned, leading to fat loss.
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If there’s one travel-friendly workout tool, it’s the resistance band. Not only does it weigh next to nothing and take up little room in your bag, it’s also super versatile. And if you’re a fan of our full-body resistance band workout, you’ll definitely dig this free workout video. It combines strength movements, like rear lunges with a rotation, with heart rate-boosting exercises for a routine that’ll challenge your entire body.


"I make my own home workouts from YouTube videos, online articles, and magazines. Most of my moves include high-intensity interval training, military exercises, and yoga. Working out at home is perfect for me because I hated the feeling of having to 'perform' at the gym, and I felt too intimidated to try new moves and equipment. Now I try new stuff all the time. I had neck surgery years ago, and my workouts have helped me regain my fitness and increase my endurance. I went from barely being able to walk to doing a Tough Mudder race. I'm also so much stronger—I can do pullups and handstand pushups now. I'm so proud of the way my body looks and performs." —Betty Nordengren, Aurora, IL
While some women, especially those facing illnesses or injuries that impede their ability to perform load-bearing exercise, do best with cardio only, most would benefit from adding some kind of weight training to their workout routine. Ko says it’s never too late to start, and adds that the “bro culture” of the weight room is changing and becoming more welcoming to people of all genders.
Caffeine inhibits phosphodiesterase (PDE), causing a build-up of cAMP levels and greater effect of NE on fatty acid lipolysis. PDE blunts lipolysis; therefore inhibiting PDE allows lipolysis to proceed at an accelerated rate. The end result is there are more fatty acids available for oxidation after consumption of caffeine. Caffeine increases the release of fat from body fat stores so it can be burned, leading to fat loss.
Personal trainer Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, created a built-to-burn strength-training routine exclusively for Women's Health readers that you can tap into online. Each move works multiple muscle groups, so you'll burn a ton of calories and rev your metabolism into high gear for 24 to 48 hours afterward. For best results, do 10 to 12 reps of each move, breaking just long enough to catch your breath in between; repeat for two to three sets. Get the workout.
Moderate-intensity cardio is also important because it helps you build a solid aerobic base, which is critical to performing your best. Moreover, numerous studies has proven that low-to-moderate intensities of cardiovascular exercise 3-5 days per week for 30-50 minutes are sufficient to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Cardio history: I started long-distance running in 2008, half and full marathons, which led to half and full Ironmans from 2011 to 2013. That moved to ultramarathons — 50 km, 50-miler, 100 km, etc. — for the past three years. During these periods, I was basically doing cardio in the form of biking, running or swimming for 15 to 20-plus hours a week, with maybe five of those hours as light circuit-style, high-rep weight training — so more cardio than lifting.
What she does now: My routine now consists of higher-intensity weight training, no more than 12 reps. I split it up into upper body and lower body, and use the maximum amount of weight I can lift. I do exercises that have big, compound movements and involve the biggest muscles — like your quads, hamstrings and glutes. My cardio I do at a higher intensity and not longer than 25 minutes, and only on the days I do my upper body. After squats and dead lifts, I can barely walk out of the gym, so no cardio.
Start lying on your back, arms and legs extended. Tighten your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor as you do so. This should lift your legs off the floor; work to keep them straight. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor as well; keep extending your arms back as you do this. Do 4 reps. During Week 7, try to maintain the hollow hold for 40 seconds, then rest for 20. During Week 8, aim for 50-second holds, then rest for 10 seconds between reps. Can’t hold that long? Hold for as long as you can, then come out of the hold and get right back into it until time’s up.
Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber is one hour and five minutes and was released on DVD on May 4th, 2010. The video can be broken down to the two twenty minute segments and the two ten minute segments and the five minute abs segment. For me the video is an intermediate level workout. Granted the workouts are great, but goes at a little to fast a pace and there is no step by step instruction. When I first saw the preview videos on Amazon and YouTube they looked easy, but when you put them into practice it is a whole different story. It is for this video and others as well that I am an advocate for labeling the workouts: beginner, intermediate, advanced or something like it. Step By Step Strength Training with Petra Kolber gets a B-.
Both BCAA and Glutamine oxidation/demand is increased during exercise. In order to meet this increased demand for BCAA and Glutamine, the body breaks down muscle protein. The goal of weight training is to increase protein synthesis. In order to gain muscle mass, protein turnover (protein turnover = protein synthesis – protein breakdown) must be positive. An increase in protein synthesis from weight training can lead to an increase in muscle mass. If we are increasing protein breakdown during training, we are decreasing the training session’s overall anabolic effect and limiting muscle growth.

Why she switched: I made the switch to more heavy lifting and dedicated powerlifting because I was always injured. I would get at least two injuries a year that would knock me out for two months, many of them stress fractures. So I knew I needed to build stronger bones, hips and glutes to support my endurance activities, and the light weightlifting wasn’t cutting it. A CrossFit gym near my house was starting an eight-week powerlifting class that was going to provide a program and culminate in a competition. It was great to have the support and coaching for the proper form. I ended up adapting quickly and falling in love with the heavy lifts and the powerlifting program. I broke six Illinois state records at the competition and was hooked. I also did not get injured that year.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
Start in pushup position with your feet wide, and each hand gripping a light-weight dumbbell. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. Keeping your core and glutes tight, lift the right dumbbell off the ground and toward your right ribcage, driving your right elbow up high. Squeeze for a moment, then lower it back to the start. Repeat with the left arm. On all reps, focus on doing everything possible to keep your hips and core square to the ground. They will shift a little bit (that’s OK!), but fight for good form. Alternate reps until time’s up. Do 3 sets.
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How her body has reacted: Once I started lifting, I got a lot of feedback from friends saying I’d lost weight. Funny thing is, I didn’t really lose any pounds, I was just looking leaner and fitter. Now that I’ve been lifting regularly for several years, my energy is better and I feel stronger. I’m positive that my physical fitness helped me have a faster and (somewhat) easier delivery of my son in 2016. I continued to lift responsibly through my pregnancy, which helped me quickly get back into pre-pregnancy shape later. Overall, I feel better and look better thanks to this lifestyle change.

Start in pushup position, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your core and glutes and perform a pushup, lowering your torso to an inch from the ground. Press back to the start, and as you do this, remove your right arm from the ground and touch your right hand to your left shoulder. Pause for one second in this position tightening your core and trying to keep your hips level, then return to the starting pushup position. Repeat the process on the other side. This move will challenge you, but you’re continuing to build core stability. Alternate reps on each side for 3 sets. During Week 5, do the move for 40 seconds during each set, then rest for 20. During Week 6, work for 50 seconds, then rest for 10.
Many people think of running or putting in 30 minutes on the elliptical as an example of moderate intensity cardio.  While this is technically true, you can do any activity that keeps your heart rate in that 120 to 140 range. Of course, if you love running, who are we to make you stop?  Just keep in mind that as “simple” as running seems, it’s an extremely advanced exercise that’s repetitive and high-impact.  If it’s not done with great form, your likelihood of injury increases significantly (just like with lifting weights).
While I was training for endurance events ... at times I felt run down, and it would be hard to eat properly and I would end up bingeing. I also was in the constant mindset of needing to be thinner to excel in endurance events, which would lead me to eat too few calories and again I would end up bingeing. So although my calorie burn was much higher while training for marathons and Ironmans, my nutrition was not nearly as good. The other thing that has changed is my confidence. I was always self-conscious of having big thighs, now I embrace them because they are strong thighs. These thighs let me squat a lot of weight! It is funny, I am even more confident in my running (short distances, of course!) and have run a lifetime mile personal record this year. I am so much more confident in my own skin, which transfers to all aspects of my life.
Fast forward to myself as a 30 something “skinnyfat” office worker/couch potato, I got into beginner level workouts with weights (body pump classes and kettlebell workouts). I worked out 3 times a week for 30 minutes, barely even that, did NO cardio and didn’t really diet (just upped my protein a bit and watched the carbs). The result after 7 weeks – the best body I ever had in my life, exactly the kind of dancer’s physique “girly workouts” claim to create. Better than on my dancer’s regimen.
Lose yourself in the high-energy rhythm of the Pound Rockout Results System, a five-disc sweatfest in which you wield drumsticks (aka Ripstix) instead of weights. "The drumming takes your mind off your muscles hurting!" one tester marveled. You'll "constantly tap the sticks" in each routine—core, upper body, lower body, intervals, tune-up and jam session—for a "totally unique" cardio blast.

Why: "The muscles of your upper arms are very small from a volume perspective. Due to the muscle loss that has occurred since your 30s (sarcopenia), these muscles are atrophied," says Perkins. "It's critical to keep your biceps muscles strong so that you are able to carry objects safely and easily. It'll also make your arms look great." (For more moves for sculpted arms, try this at-home workout.)
After posting her first video on YouTube in 2009, Cassey Ho’s distinct take on training has turned into one of the largest female-focused online fitness empires—Blogilates. Though the practices focus around the class created by Ho—POP Pilates, combining pop music and pilates movements to create a more danceable practice—there is a wide variety of videos available, from single-song challenges to 20+ minute workouts. Each video is equipment free, besides the optional (but recommended) yoga mat. The best part? Ho preaches body positivity, fearlessly uploading videos detailing her struggles with self image. If you’re new to the channel, we recommend the POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout; for a challenge, a video from the PIIT series, Total Body Slim Down.
Poor fat: so misunderstood and neglected. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to a major landmark study from the 80s that—very erroneously—concluded dietary fats promote incidences of heart attacks and other illnesses. As a result of this, the government promoted eating as little fat as possible and corporations rolled out their fat-free and reduced fat foods to save everyone from their exploding hearts.
Poor fat: so misunderstood and neglected. Dietary fats got a bad rap due to a major landmark study from the 80s that—very erroneously—concluded dietary fats promote incidences of heart attacks and other illnesses. As a result of this, the government promoted eating as little fat as possible and corporations rolled out their fat-free and reduced fat foods to save everyone from their exploding hearts.

For the first couple weeks, we'll use relatively lighter loads. We'll progress to using heavier loads as we move forward, but for now, don't push yourself beyond where you feel safe. Once you feel comfortable doing the movements and understand how they should feel, then you can start adding a more weight. Take full advantage of our exercise database by clicking on each exercise below for detailed instructions!
I’m sure there are some people in a state of mild disbelief as this point.  After all, men have more testosterone, and testosterone is anabolic; therefore, men should be at a huge advantage when it comes to building muscle and gaining strength, right?  An implication of this analysis is that, assuming a given woman and a given man start with similar amounts of muscle mass and strength, they’d be likely to gain the same amount of muscle and strength if they both started lifting.  That just doesn’t sit right with some people.
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