It happened again.
This morning, I got an email from a new female training client about how she didn’t want to “bulk up” by lifting weights. She wants to “get toned” but not big. You may have said the same thing before, too. I’ve worked with women who said, “Oh, I don’t want to look manly. I’ll stick with the 10 lb weights instead of trying the heavy ones.”
It’s time to wake up from this little fantasy. Lifting weights, even heavy weights, will not make women bulky.
“It’s evolution, baby”
Bulking up the way we think of Dwayne Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno bulking up has to do with straight-up biology. Muscle growth comes from testosterone, a hormone that’s responsible for masculine traits like body hair and larger muscles. Women have testosterone, too; it’s just balanced by estrogen to limit muscle growth. Hell, the vast majority of men cannot reach this “freak of nature” size we see in The Rock, The Terminator, and The Hulk due to genetic dispositions.
Short version: Women usually aren’t genetically inclined to get bulky from weights. If you want to tone up, you need to lift heavy. I’ll explain more in a later post and link to it here.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about women’s fitness capacity. If you’re looking to get lean muscle and look toned from your workout, then you need to lift heavy in the gym. Put down those little 10 lb dumbbells and work with your trainer to lift something that will really lean out those muscles. Get to lifting and get to toning, ladies.
I believe in you.
For a more technical explanation of the female bulking myth, check out this article from BodyBuilding.com.