Does Weight Training Really Reduce Breast Size In Women?
One of the most common myths about weight training for women is that weight training reduces breast size and creates a flat manly looking chest. Even today in the 21st Century when we have access to so much in the way on information, the idea of weight training reducing breast size persists. The flat out answer is no, weight training does not reduce breast size in women. And this misconception has unfortunately prevented so many women from incorporating weight training into their quests to lose weight and firm up their bodies. And instead driving them towards aerobic exercises and extremely light weight training. Practice that inevitably lead to failure as intense weight training is without question the most effective way to increase muscle definition, tone up and develop a tight body. But what about the prospect of becoming flat chested? To answer that I can honestly say that unless you plan on starving yourself or using anabolic steroids, women have little to worry about in terms of their breasts getting smaller from weight training. In fact most tend to see a slight increase over time!
Weight training properly executed with sufficient intensity, adequate rest and nutrition will bring about an increase in muscle size of any part of the body that is being worked. This holds true whether it be it the pectoralis muscles of the chest (or pecs as many call them) or the muscles of your arms and legs. The way that this process (hypertrophy) works is that individual muscle fibers will get bigger (slightly bigger, that is, you won’t see mountains of muscle sprout on a woman without the use of anabolic steroids as it takes men with ten times more testosterone, years upon years to develop a muscular physique) or they will split and then get slightly bigger. The fibers of your pectoral muscles are all constituents of skeletal muscle whereas breast tissue is made up of sex specific adipose tissue (fat), ligaments, connective tissue and mammary glands. There are no skeletal muscle fibers found in the breasts as they simply sit directly over the pectoralis muscles. Weight training therefore can have no direct effect on them whatsoever.
Weight Training Doesn’t Affect Breasts Just The Muscles Underneath
Thus breast tissue cannot be subject to hypertrophy or get larger due to weight training, but by increasing the size (slightly, ladies) of the pectoral muscles under the breasts there will be a natural increase in overall chest size. It may then appear that the breasts look a bit larger as they will stand up a bit more, which, is something most women would not mind. However the actual size and composition of the breasts themselves will not change. A study conducted in the University of Arizona back in 1985 confirmed this phenomenon in a 21 day study that used concentric and eccentric contractions with a specialized chest exercise machine. After the three week program researchers found no changes whatsoever in the size, shape or volume of the breasts of the women participating after extensive scientific measurement.
So what about those flat chested women in the magazines with thickly developed chest muscles and no breasts? The ones that are so often parodied and ridiculed? Firstly it should be noted that the female bodybuilders that we typically see in magazines or on the internet use extensive amounts of drugs to attain a degree of muscular development and body fat reduction that is not in any way possible without pharmaceutical intervention. These athletes do not in any way represent what a regular woman would look like if they trained with weights, no matter how long or how hard they trained. The size and shape of breasts in a healthy woman is fairly resistant to change as long as there are normal conditions of hydration and food availability. That being said, in cases of extreme under nutrition or calorie restriction as is often the case for athletes trying to get lean or individuals with eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia where there is a significant reduction of body-weight and body fat, the breasts, which have a high proportion of fat, will shrink. In the case of female bodybuilders- you see the dense muscle tissue in their chest area and no breasts and the assumption is erroneously made that somehow the weight training made their breasts go away. Weight training has nothing to do with it, as shrinkage comes from the reduction in body fat and nothing else.
Weight Training Can Help You Look Better All Round!
That being said, natural athletes who don’t aspire to have 3% body fat levels don’t tend to have the same flat chested look as their drug using counterparts, nor the thickly muscled pecs that many find a bit off putting. Due to the reduced body fat of the average elite athlete there is some reduction in breast sized as compared to the general population, as they diet down, but most of the size lost in their chest area comes back when they eat normally and reduce their levels of fat burning activity. The other factor that can cause breast size to change is obesity- in which case the breasts become larger as body fat increases past healthy levels. Some women who are overweight see this increase in breast size as a positive attribute and are reluctant to exercise or diet for fear of reducing their bust size. For someone who is overweight to trim down to a lean and toned body, there will always be some loss of breast size- from the loss of body fat. But keep in mind that weight training can help lift what remains and make you look better all round!
What I Eat To Stay Lean and Keep Building Muscle All Year Round.
If there every was a "secret" to how I consistently stay in shape (and almost 20 years since my last competition) the answer would be my diet.
Diet is the deciding factor in what your body looks like and your overall performance and I want to stress that while this is a layout of the foods I eat on a daily basis, it's not a blueprint for your YOU should be eating.
What it can be is an example of what it takes to maintain a certain degree of size and muscularity at all times as a natural athlete, and also the underlying principle to how I select my foods.
Which is that I don't eat junk foods or highly processed foods and I only drink water.
(No protein shakes, ever!)
If you can start with that, there's no doubt that you will be on the right track in terms of your nutrition.
So stay away from processed foods, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense
Do You Have Good Genetics for Natural Bodybuilding?
I don't believe it's the question that needs to be asked.
Far too many, myself included, who went on to be successful natural bodybuilders would never have been the men and women you would expect to have the genetics for bodybuilding.
But we put in the work, the years, the dedication and the consistency, and so what matters isn't the question of genetics, but rather do you have the passion, the drive and the discipline to train hard and focus on your diet nonstop for years on end to realize your potential?
That's the real question, and yes, there are men and women who have great genetics for natural bodybuilding, but there are even more who would be amazing onstage but don't know it because they didn't believe enough in themselves to put in the time to see how far they could go.
So I am here to say that I believe you have it in you to do amazing things, so if it's your goal, or even if you just want to improve the way you look, stick with it and don't quit!
Know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, Kevin Richardson’s Naturally Intense High Intensity Training have helped hundreds lose weight and transform their bodies with his 10 Minute Workouts. One of the top natural bodybuilders of his time, Kevin is also the international fitness consultant for UNICEF and one of the most sought after personal trainers in New York City.
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net
For the past thirty years, Celebrity Trainer and Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Kevin Richardson has helped hundreds realize their fitness goals in less time with Naturally Intense High Intensity 10 Minute Workouts.