It’s one of the most common concerns that prevents women from doing strength training or weight lifting. They want to get fit and trim up, but they don’t want to look “bulky”. So, they skip the weights, and perform hours of cardio, or worse - they avoid exercising all together.
Unfortunately, this is a common myth. And, it could be preventing you from seeing the results you want.
Why You Won’t Get Bulky by Lifting Weights
Let’s untangle this myth a little bit. It’s most likely rooted in the fact that weight training increases strength. It does this in two ways. As you challenge your muscles to lift more weight, you send them a signal that they need to get stronger. To do so, your body first increases the efficiency of your muscles by recruiting more muscle fibers. Then, as you continue to train, your body thickens the muscle fibers, providing more strength.
Hold on. I know what you’re thinking. If your muscle fibers thicken, won’t your muscles get bigger and cause you to bulk up?
Yes, as your muscles get stronger, they will also get bigger. But rather than becoming bulky, the first stages of muscle growth typically result in shape and muscle tone. Strength training and muscle mass can actually help you trim up too because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. That means it burns more calories, even when you’re resting. So, as you gain muscle, you’ll also increase your ability to burn calories.
The reality is that you will gain muscle if you lift weights. But that doesn’t mean you’ll become bulky. Sometimes the weight training areas of your local Seattle gym can be overrun with guys trying to bulk up. So, that might lead you to believe, “I don’t want to bulk up, so I should avoid weight training”.
But as we already pointed out, weight training can help contribute to weight loss, and getting closer to having a toned, strong feeling body. Plus, women are not as physically inclined to bulk up the way that men are because they have biologically differences.
Bulking up to look like Chris Hemsworth isn’t an easy feat for most men. But, they do have a key ingredient for stimulating muscle growth - testosterone. That’s why the bulky physique is more commonly associated with men.
Testosterone, or the lack thereof, is one of the main reasons that women won’t get bulky from lifting weights. Testosterone is a natural anabolic steroid, which directly stimulates muscle growth. And, on average, women only have one seventh the amount of testosterone as men. So, as usual, that means women have to work harder. But it also means you don’t really need to worry about bulking up.
Instead, strength training actually has a lot of benefits for women.
Why Strength Training is Important for Women
We already discussed how muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat, so it therefore helps contribute to weight loss, and weight maintenance. But there are also a number of other benefits as well.
As we get older, it’s easy to develop muscle imbalances, especially since most of us work fairly sedentary jobs in offices, staring at computers. With those weaknesses, we are at an increased risk for injury. So, if you enjoy being active, it’s important to keep your muscles trained so they’re not overstressed when you want to use them to go skiing, take a hike, or play with your kids.
Strength training can also help prevent or slow the bone loss associated with osteoporosis and aging. It’s estimated that by age 30 we have peak bone mass, and we then begin to lose bone mass each decade. But, we can slow that bone loss through strength training. If you’re not 30 yet, it’s still important because strength training promotes bone development, and peak bone density.
Find a Seattle Personal Trainer for Women
Want to learn more about strength training from a Seattle personal trainer who’s experienced in helping women? At Demco Fitness we operate a gym in downtown Seattle that offers personal training, and fitness classes. You’ll find a personal trainer who will work with you to understand your goals, and develop a strategic training plan to get the results you want. Stop by or give us a call to learn more.