Why women shouldn’t be afraid of lifting (heavy) weights

We’ve all heard it: “Lift weights? I don’t want to get bulky! I just want to get toned”. If you still think that the only way to achieve an optimal body composition is by spending hours a week jogging on the treadmill, you have been misled. Firstly, if you’re barely eating any protein, are avoiding all healthy fats and most of your diet consists of dairy and carbohydrates such as wheat, grains and sugar, that is probably the reason why you’re unable to get toned – address this issue first!

One of the most effective ways of becoming physically healthy and strong is through weight training. Everyone (especially women) needs to acknowledge this. However, women should not be afraid of performing less reps with heavier weights. Once a basic level of technique has been established, many women tend to continue performing long sets with low weights and plenty of repetitions [15 reps and more]). The problem with this method is that the training becomes an aerobic workout. (Click here to read the article “Training for fat loss: the anaerobic vs aerobic debate). One of the most common reasons why women will not see significant change from weight training is simply due to the fact that the weights they use are too light.

To address the “bulky” issue, the hormonal response women will have to weight training is different than that of men. Men demonstrate significant increases in testosterone but both men and women demonstrate substantial increases in growth hormone. What this means is that the average woman is physically limited in terms of gaining muscle compared to the average man. However, due to the increase in growth hormone (a hormone that burns fat in the body), strength training using functional, multi-joint movements (ig squats, lunges, deadlifts, overhead presses, pullups, rows, dips, etc) is an extremely efficient tool that both men and women can utilize to achieve optimal body composition and high levels of strength.

Of course it is inevitable for women to gain some muscular mass from weight training. This is a good thing! Here are some of the many benefits linked to well-developed muscles:

Muscle mass helps you keep fat off: studies have shown that women who lift weights using loads ranging from 60 to 80% of their max can expect to see significant increases in strength, slight increases in muscular mass and a substantial drop in body fat.
Improved posture: by strengthening and hypertrophying common areas of deficiency such as the lower and upper back as well as the shoulders and rotator cuff, one can correct postural problems and reduce the risk of injury.
Longer and healthier life: Lifting weights has been linked to stronger bones, better mobility and greater muscular strength in older women. Furthermore, many studies have proven that women with higher levels of muscular development tend to enjoy longer and healthier lives.

More women need to incorporate weight training into their daily lives. Combined with a healthy diet and effective stretching regimen, both men and women can dramatically improve their lives. Let’s help crush the myth that weight training makes you bulky. Eating crappy foods, looking for shortcuts, being lazy and being inconsistent on the other hand, that’s another story.



Andreoli, A., Celi, M., et al. Lon-Term Effect of Exercise on Bone Mineral Density and body Composition in Post-Menopausal Ex-Elite Athletes. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012. 66(1), 69-74

Consitt, L., Copeland, J., et al. Endogenous Anabolic Hormone Responses to Endurance Versus Resistance Exercise and training in Women. Sports Medicine. 2002. 32(1), 1-22

Cheung, C., Nguyen, U., et al. Association of Handgrip Strength with Chronic Diseases and Multimorbidity. Age. 2012. Published ahead of Print.


Filed under Blog, Training

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