Will Lifting Weights Make Women Bulky?
As a trainer specializing in female fitness I hear it all the time from women who are nervous getting into lifting weights because they don’t want to get too ”big”. One of the most common fitness myths for women is that incorporating strength training will make your body look masculine and bulky. There is such a misconception that unfortunately many women avoid lifting weights and stick to cardio because they have heard from friends or in the media of this myth. Biologically it is just not possible. It is much harder for women to gain muscle and also takes much longer than men. For the simplest answer for all you ladies, no, your body will not get masculine looking or bulk up from lifting weights unless that is your goal. Every woman should be incorporating lifting weights into their workouts to improve posture, shape their bodies and strengthen their bones.
Going back to the science, biologically women can not build the same muscle mass as a man. It is very rare to see a female version of The Rock or Arnold Schwarzenegger. That is because it is much harder for a woman to build muscle and takes a much longer time training to gain lean muscle mass. Women have less of the growth hormone testosterone in their bodies compared to men which helps with muscle growth and strength. Women also have more of the hormone estrogen than men do and estrogen fights the actual ability to bulk. Women can gain lean muscle mass if they are consistent and work hard but usually in women it appears more toned.
Quite contradictory to this myth is that if used properly, strength training and weightlifting in combination with a clean diet can be an extremely helpful tool in losing weight and creating the beautiful female figures we strive for. In the past, men and women assumed that cardiovascular aerobic activity was the best option for losing weight. The facts now show that strength training increases your resting metabolism which, in turn, means you will continue to burn more calories throughout the day even after your workout is complete. In basic terms, weightlifting helps build lean muscle mass and burns body fat while cardio will cause you to lose both muscle mass and body fat. Lifting weight also strengthens our bones and will decrease your chance of developing diseases such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Women specifically tend to drop a significant amount of muscle mass after menopause and that needs to be counteracted with gaining muscle mass from strength training.
If you have ever seen a female bodybuilder or female athlete on the cover of a magazine or on tv whose body looks strangely masculine, extremely muscular and bulky, there is a chance they could be taking anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are synthetic variations of the hormone testosterone. Men and women both of been known to use these steroids for a competitive advantage. In the fitness/sports world athletes and bodybuilders have been known to use anabolic steroids to gain extreme muscle mass and strength. Anabolic steroids in most professional sports are illegal and banned.
In summary, including strength training in your workout program will improve your overall health significantly and will not make you look masculine or bulky unless that is your goal. Feeling strong is a beautiful thing, so next time you go to the gym or set your fitness goals, swap the treadmill for a barbell and get lifting.
Strong is sexy!