By: Pearl Maalouf BS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
First things first, the reason why this article even needs to be written, is because there are a few big misconceptions out there that myself, other trainers, and most women that workout have to deal with. The first one being that if a woman lifts weights heavier than 10 pounds then she will become this giant ball of muscle. The second misconception is that women with muscles are ugly. Everyone is allowed to have muscles, and whatever amount of muscles you decide to have – whether you’re a man or a woman – is great because not many people want to put in the time and effort it requires to build muscle. Muscles make you special.
That being said, we know that everyone has different body goals, so if yours don’t include bigger muscles — but you still want to lift weights and get stronger — read on!
- As a woman lifting weights you probably won’t get big, bulging muscles (unless you work really hard to do so). I’ve been lifting weights since 2008 and I, in no way, look like a bodybuilder. I do however have nice curves, a tight body, and I’m decently strong – without veiny arms or huge biceps.
- The average woman’s hormone levels don’t enable muscle growth the way men’s do. Muscle is built with testosterone and growth hormone. Women naturally just don’t make enough of those hormones (women have about 10% of the testosterone then men) to elicit the same muscle growth response that a man would.
- In order to build crazy amounts of muscle you have to be following a specific training program to get those kinds of results. For example, you have to work a muscle group often, intensely, and with a lot of weight in order to really build the muscle up.
- You have to putting down a lot of food – and at the right time to build up muscle. To build muscle you need to be eating a lot to not only maintain your weight but to fuel your growing muscles (they burn more calories than fat so you need to eat more to maintain them!).
- A very small percentage of women are “easy gainers”. If you feel a certain body part puts on muscle easily after a few weeks of training then you can still workout and lift weights but train the supporting/surrounding muscles. For example if you feel your quadriceps (front of your legs) gain easily you can still train legs – but focus on straight leg deadlifts, glute bridges, or even sumo squats to put more emphasis on the hamstrings/butt.
- If you want to really truly want to not even risk building too much muscle, but want to be more athletic then high intensity circuit training coupled with volume training is a great style for you! High reps and short to no breaks in between movements means that you will have to stick to low weights. You will torch fat and get lean!
- If you still don’t think lifting weights is for you or not applicable in your life, strength training can actually help you in your day-to-day life making tasks like walking up stairs, picking up heavy objects (like kids or grocery bags) from the floor, or even household chores seem easier! If you have any other hobbies, like yoga or running, training can improve those activities as well. Muscle also consume more calories and improves your metabolism so you burn more calories (and can eat more!) just doing things like walking!
- Through lifting weights you can literally change the shape of your body. Have you always wanted a better shoulder to hip ratio? You can change that! Have you wanted a tighter butt, or maybe a bigger butt? Through targeted weighted exercises you can achieve both goals!