“I don’t want to get bulky!” If I had a dollar for every time I heard a woman say that about working out….well, I would buy the gym instead of just work out in it. The fact is, women have many misconceptions about weight training and how it affects their bodies. Many women believe that if they lift weights, they will automatically become muscular and masculine. If it were that easy, we would have more women who enter the sports of competitive body building and Olympic weight lifting. Sadly, this misbelief prevents women from weight training and they miss out on its benefits as a result. It is actually quite difficult for a woman to put excess muscle mass on her body and weight training is actually a great way for women to get lean and toned. Let’s dive into some reasons why.
The Testosterone Factor
Any way you slice it, women have less and need less testosterone than men. Testosterone plays a part in building muscle so it is no surprise that men have a leg up on women in that department. For a woman to build as much muscle as a man, they would have to supplement testosterone significantly and over the course of a long period of time. Regardless of gender, muscle mass takes a long time to build and a lot of work to maintain. One doesn’t simply “get bulky” overnight.
The Body Fat Factor
Men’s bodies are genetically lower in body fat and higher in lean muscle mass, giving them the edge when it comes to getting stronger, larger and leaner. Women, by nature, will have a softer and more slender physique than men- even if they have similar exercise routines. This is yet another reason why women should not fear weights.
The Strength Factor
Before any woman gets mad about this statement, just hear this out for a moment. Men are not necessarily stronger than women overall. They are, however, stronger than women pound for pound. That means that if you take a 150 pound male and have him lift weights next to a 150 pound female, he will likely out-lift her. This is due to his greater amount of muscle mass.
Why Women Should Weight Train
The question remains: why should women weight train? The truth is, women are made for weight lifting! Their bodies are functional, they heal quicker than men and they can tolerate longer durations of exercise at intense levels. Women who lift weights will experience increased muscle mass, lower body fat percentages and increased energy. This is partly due to the boost in testosterone they get from lifting weights. In general, women who lift weights are stronger, have a more defined core and are able to metabolize food much better than if they did not lift weights. Like any exercise regimen, weight lifting should be well thought out and should be started slow and worked up over time. A great starting weight lifting regimen would be:
Monday: Lower Body + 20 Minutes Steady State Cardio
Tuesday: Upper Body + Abs
Thursday: Lower Body + Abs
Friday: Upper Body + 20 Minutes Steady State Cardio
As the body becomes more accustomed to its weight lifting regimen, longer and more frequent lifting days can be incorporated. Let the results speak for themselves and more importantly, listen to your body.