Strength training has long been thought to be a male-dominated world. The fear of getting ‘bulky’ is often wise what stops women from becoming the best, most athletic, healthiest version of themselves.
I’ve trained a lot of female clients over the years and none of them, not even one has ever complained about being too bulky because of our training or has been unhappy with the results. This is not me blowing my own trumpet. It’s simply because lifting weights will make you feel and look stronger, more confident, and healthier.
I understand the concerns. Social media are full of strong looking women lifting super heavy weights. As much as I admire their athletic endeavours and am impressed by their strength, I understand how that can lead to quite a simplistic conclusion: strength training makes women bulky.
I get a lot of questions about the “right” way to train for women. As much as I would never dare to say that all women are similar (😬), their training goals usually are. You want to look leaner, be slimmer and work on your ‘problem’ areas – which again, in most cases are the same.
I would love to see more women strength train so let’s try and clarify some of the misconceptions and explore why strength training is good for you and why you shouldn’t worry about getting too bulky.
Strength training helps build muscle and increase metabolism.
Looking leaner is not only about decreasing the amount of body fat (aka losing weight), but also building a substantial amount of lean muscle mass. Building muscle will make your body more efficient at burning fat, even when you’re not working out. This, in turn, will make you look leaner.
Don’t panic. Building muscle doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll look like a bodybuilder. More about this later in this article.
If your goal is to look leaner, your focus should be optimising your body composition (lean muscle mass to body fat ratio) rather than losing kilograms.
Focus on increasing your strength, the way you look and feel rather than on the number on the scale. Check your body composition frequently to understand where you stand and how you’re progressing.
Strength training can improve bone density.
It’s important to understand that strength training is not only about looking better. Health is such a major, often overseen component of it.
Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men, and strength training can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of developing this condition. Strong bones are also essential for preventing injuries and improving overall health.
Strength training can boost confidence and mental health.
There is a direct correlation between feeling stronger physically and being stronger mentally.
There is something very empowering about picking up a heavy object and seeing your strength numbers going up every week.
Strength training will make you feel stronger, more empowered, and more confident in your body. It’s likely that this will have a positive impact on your mental health and self-esteem, which can in turn lead to better overall health and wellbeing.
Why Women Shouldn’t Worry about Getting Too ‘Bulky’
“I don’t want to look like I could pick up my boyfriend”. These are the words of a friend who’s just starting her adventure with strength training.
“That all depends on the boyfriend” was my immediate response.
Jokes aside, this is one of the biggest concerns women have when it comes to strength training. However, this fear is largely unfounded. Here is why:
Women have lower levels of testosterone.
Testosterone is the hormone that is largely responsible for building muscle mass. Men typically have much higher levels of testosterone than women, which is why they are able to build muscle more quickly and easily. Women who strength train will build muscle, but they won’t become bulky unless they are actively working to do so.
Building muscle takes time and dedication.
Building muscle mass is a slow process that requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Be it for men or women. Women who strength train regularly will see improvements in their strength and muscle tone over time, but they won’t suddenly become super muscular overnight.
Bulky is subjective.
What one person considers bulky may be completely different from what another person considers bulky. Women should focus on their own goals and what makes them feel confident and healthy, rather than worrying about what other people might think.
Strength training is a valuable workout routine for women that can provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. Women who strength train regularly will build lean muscle mass, increase their metabolism, improve their bone density, and boost their confidence and mental health.
You shouldn’t be afraid of getting too bulky from strength training, as it is a slow process that requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Focus on your own goals and what makes you feel strong, healthy, and confident in your body.