One of the unexpected perks of having a baby around the house is that you end up with great shoulder and biceps muscles by the time the time she reaches 1yr old.  Lifting the little one in and out the car, crib and high chair sure beats biceps curls any day. My 14 month old is almost walking and she won’t need me to carry her around as much anymore, but that shouldn’t mean that I should neglect my new-found “guns.”

When it comes to PCOS muscle mass really matters.  Strength and resistance training  is a very efficient way to bring down insulin levels and help with weight loss and should be part of an exercise routine for all women with PCOS.  A study published in the September 2009 issue of Diabetes (1) suggests that exercise stimulates muscles to increase glycogen breakdown.  By mobilizing fuel stores in muscle, the researchers propose that exercise may help to restore energy balance (i.e. insulin and glucose). I have referenced several other studies that confirm that when it comes to insulin resistance – “muscle matters.”

I am a huge advocate of strength training. For the past few years,  I have enjoyed taking group strength training classes at my local gym. I am amazed at how great some of the women in their 60’s look who have maintained their muscle mass.  I am convinced that muscle training will keep me looking and feeling great for a long time. I can seriously say that weight and resistance training not only has revved up my metabolism but has helped with my insulin resistance.


Poehlman ET, Dvorak RV, DeNino WF, Brochu M, Ades PA. Effects of Resistance Training and Endurance Training on Insulin Sensitivity in Nonobese, Young Women: A Controlled Randomized Trial. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2000 July 1, 2000;85(7):2463-8.

Fish oil for PCOS

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MUSCLE MATTERS WITH PCOS - (Part 2) Top 3 Strength Training Guides

  1. The reason why exercise is so beneficial when suffering from diabetes and insulin resistance is because the glucose transporters that work on fat and -resting- muscle are insulin dependent (GLUT-4). These need insulin to be able to transport glucose into cells and produce energy. The higher the amount of fat we have in our bodies and the more sendentary we become, the more GLUT-4 transporters we’ll have that need insulin to transport glucose into the cells. On the other hand, -exercising- muscle only needs a miniscule amount of these transporters (therefor insulin) to absorb glucose because it can get its glucose supply directly from circulation and not through these transporters. This is why when diagnosed with diabetes, the first line of treatment is diet and exercise. Lower the body fat to reduce amount of insulin produced by your body to be able to maintain that fat and get the muscles moving which will lower hyperglycemia by making the muscle eat the sugar straight from your blood 🙂

  2. Are you still using the insulite pcos system? I was diagnosed with PCOS five years ago because of infertility. Happily, I now have three year old twins. Have been on metformin since they were babies but can not control recent weight gain. Have decided it’s time to really tackle this PCOS and am exploring my options!

    1. Hi Amy-
      I took Insulite for several years and conceived my last child while taking it. I have not taken it since my pregnancy. I have refined my diet such that I don’t seem to need it anymore. My cycles are regular and if I stay on my diet plan and exercise I don’t have any blood sugar issues and my hormone panel is close to normal. I think the best thing you can do for your PCOS weight gain is to follow a Clean Eating diet and make sure to get plenty of exercise – including strength training.

  3. Thanks, great post on muscle-building and how it can help us PCOS ladies manage our symptoms. I’ve linked to this post from my site so others can read your material. Good blog!

  4. Hi Amy

    I just came across your website and wanted to thank you for all the information that you have here.
    I am 38yrs old and never been pregnant my husband and I have been trying for 2yrs to have our first child. My husband has a son from a previous marriage. It is so hard for me to talk about this with my friends I have all the systems except no facial hair and no loss of hair. But the weight gain, insulin resistance, no period. I have been to other website but they all want you to buy something. Well today is Labor Day and I am taking the challenge to starting tomorrow to take control over pcos and my body. Thank you so much your story and your website has really encourage me that there is hope.

    1. Hi-
      Thanks for your comments. I am 38 years old too and my cycle seems to get more regular as I get older. I recently came across an article that stated that women with PCOS can be fertile longer than women without PCOS. If you are interested in more of my musings I post on Facebook and Twitter more often than my blog. I am more than happy to help with any questions you may have. There certainly is hope! Start with revamping your diet and start exercising. These are the best first steps.

  5. I am so stoked to have found your blog. I’m also going to add you on facebook as well. Two years ago I was diagnosed with PCOS. I’m 26 and me and my husband are wanting to get pregnant soon. If possible I don’t want to use any kind of drugs. I know that it may come down that but I’m going to try my best to do it on my own. I’ve been reading your blog and found lots of good advice. I’m from the U.S. so I know a lot of the magazine and such that you talk about but I can’t find them here in Japan. I’m going to try to have some of my family check out stuff for me while I’m still here. I really appreciate your blog.

    1. Mai-
      Wish you lots of luck. Eat clean and think about avoiding gluten for a while. A gluten free diet has been shown to increase fertility. Also look into acupuncture.

  6. Hi Amy,

    I just found out I had PCOS yesterday and my doctor told me DONT lift weights or worry about muscle because when you do you will be gaining muscle and not losing weight because the hormones in women with PCOS are often different , what are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks! I loveee the site! 🙂

    1. Did you read my post about Muscle Matters? I totally disagree. Gaining muscle was a big part of my healing process.

    2. Doctors usually say this because of the high testosterone in women. It’s kind of a myth that gets thrown around in the allopathic world–that weight lifting will raise testosterone in women with PCOS. The truth is, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. If your insulin is under control there is less risk of this, but at the same time doing the lifts lowers insulin resistance.

      I personally lift heavy, however I also have MTHFR/COMT mutations which lead to muscle weakness. If I don’t lift, I cannot maintain a NORMAL amount of muscle. So I lift. I have not noticed an increase in testosterone because of this, however some women might.

      Best practices would be to get a testosterone baseline, lift for three months, and then do another baseline. If it’s elevated, then you might consider stopping. My bet would be the baseline will go down as long as you observe a good diet.

  7. Amy,
    I found about 9 months ago I have PCOS and that I am not insulin resistant. My first dr. told me to gain weight because they said I was underweight and that was why I was not getting my period. The second dr. diagnosed me with PCOS after blood tests. I do a lot of weight training and cardio exercise. I am not overweight and I eat healthy. I was wondering if you think too much exercise could be my problem. I exercise 6 days a week for 1-2 hours a day. I do intensive cardio and weight training.

    1. I do think too much exercise raises cortisol levels which in turn lowers progesterone and raises insulin so too much exercise could be a problem. Try adding some cortisol reducing exercise like yoga.

  8. Hi my name is Lili I am 22 and I was told today that I definetly have PCOS I started having symptoms a year ago I kept going to the gynecologist and she just kept blowing it off. Finally my primary doctor sent me to a specialist. Today I got my lab results and it was confirmed I actually got really emotional because I’m at super high risk right now for everything that could go wrong with pcos. All I kept thinking about is why me why now I’ve always thought you had to be much older before you start having so many health problems. I also have hypothyroidism which is finally under control after over a year of switching dosages. I’m very glad I ran across this website my doctor told me that I should be building muscle to help with the insulin resistance and I’m happy to hear that it actually works. I have always been athletic so muscle training isn’t to hard. My doctor also put me on a dietary supplement called total fertility pcos made by coast science and a birth control pill since I’m not trying to have children right now. I have made a pledge to overcome this and I’m so happy to know I’m not alone!