Mythbusting – Women, Weightlifting, and Getting “Bulky”

Mythbusting – Women, Weightlifting, and Getting “Bulky”

I could read her response before the words left her mouth.

No, I can’t read minds. But I’ve seen this script play out countless times.

I had just advised a female client that, in order to achieve her goals of losing fat and shrinking her waist line, she would benefit from getting stronger, and that lifting weights 1 – 3 days per week would accelerate her progress.

“UGH, nooooo! That will make me all bulky and gross. I don’t want to look like a man!”

So many women believe “lifting weights = bulky”. Why?

Many women are afraid to do any sort of strength training out of a fear of becoming “bulky”, “muscle-y”, or “looking gross”. This is a common – and harmful – misconception. Where does it come from?

1. Bodybuilder stereotypes

Mention weightlifting to almost any woman, and this is what immediately comes to mind:

via shutterstock.com

That’s not an exaggeration – the thought they’ll develop “man-like” huge biceps and chest muscles keeps many women from getting stronger.

This is silly. And is mainly due to..

2. Misunderstanding physiology

Testosterone is a muscle-building hormone produced naturally by both men and women.

However, women only produce a fraction of the amount of testosterone produced by men. Natural (as in those who do not use anabolic substances) female lifters cannot attain the bulky, muscular look achieved by male bodybuilders. It is physiologically impossible.

Dedicated females lift for years and years, getting stronger and stronger, and don’t come remotely close to attaining the muscle size competitive male bodybuilders do. And these are women who are stronger than many men! It’s silly to think that moderate strength training will make you look like a man!

“But what about those female bodybuilders? They’re huge!”

Yes, yes they are. They’ve also dedicated a large portion of their lives to working out – in fact, it may be a full-time job for some. Some are natural, some are “enhanced”. The point is, it takes superior genetics and years of targeted training to achieve the “female bodybuilder” look. These women train 5, 6, even 7 days a week. Strength training 1 – 3 days per week does not even come close to that level of dedication, and will NOT make you “too bulky”.

3. Word of mouth

Blame it on “old wives’ tales”, superstition, or just plain old misinformation. The “lifting = bulky” belief has taken root as factual knowledge that “everyone knows”. Like other closely held beliefs, this makes the misconception even harder to shatter.

The truth: strength training knows no gender.

Lifting weights and getting strong is NOT just for men. In fact, the lifting game works the same for women as it does for men.

Some men lift weights to get bigger – but not all. Some are solely after strength. Some want to maintain their current appearance. Some want to maintain a lean look.

It works the exact same for women!

Want to add muscle?

There’s a weightlifting routine for that.

Want to lose fat?

There’s a weightlifting routine for that.

Gain strength? Be lean? Add curves?

Check. Check. Check.

Not all strength training is created equal. There exists an endless variety of movements and routines that can be used depending on your goals. The commonality is, no matter your goal, YOU can benefit from getting stronger!

Wrapping Up

We’ve addressed reasons why many women hold misconceptions about lifting weights – and busted the myth that weightlifting makes all women bulky.

We’ve discussed that a weightlifting routine can be tailored to YOUR specific goals. So, whether you want to gain muscle, lose fat, or just stay lean and in shape, we can pick and choose exercises to customize your workouts to fit your personal goals.

Don’t let myths stop you from getting the body you deserve!

Let us know – do you have friends or family that think women shouldn’t lift weights? What are some benefits you’ve experienced from strength training?

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