women shouldnt lift weights

Women Shouldn’t Lift Because They Will get too ‘Bulky’

Women who weight train?
Women who weight train?

Do I have your attention now?  Heard this before?  Ladies have you been told this before?

OK ladies, it’s myth-busting time!

Gents feel free to read along – but this blog entry is specifically targeted at a long-standing gym myth for the ladies. I can’t count the number of times women have come to me asking about wanting to work out but don’t want to get ‘big and bulky’. I have to be honest, as a personal trainer this is one of the most frustrating and popular myths out there. I am so sorry if someone has already gotten a hold of you and has tried to convince you of this.  I am here to tell you, DON’T drink the Kool Aid!

Ladies, you CAN lift weights and not get ‘yoked out’.

Now I know you are sitting there reading this and already picturing a female body builder on stage, muscles bulging, veins popping, sporting a bedazzled bikini and a $75 spray tan right?  Let me shed some light on that. Those women are pounding SERIOUS iron a MINIMUM of 2 hrs a day, eat to bulk and spend hundreds of dollars a month on supplements. It’s also not uncommon for steroid use to be in play – to get that big. This is NOT by accident ladies. It takes MAJOR work and dedication to look like that. Now, thanks to the growing trend in natural body building, that arena seems to be trending back towards a more toned, less bulky or masculine look of the original Ms. Olympia, Rachel McLish.

So is it possible for women to get big and bulky if they lift weights? 

Yes!  However, it will take a HERCULEAN effort so unless you are going out of your way, i.e., the reasons stated above, it will NOT happen! Why you ask?

women bulky from weights

Two words;  testosterone levels. 

If you compare testosterone levels between the genders you will find a huge difference between the sexes.  Why?  The difference quite simply comes down to the testes, which is where those of us with a ‘Y’ chromosome get the majority of our testosterone.  Women do produce testosterone from the ovaries & adrenal glands but in lesser amounts.

Strong is the new skinny’, heard that a time or two lately?

It seems like I am seeing that a LOT lately and it seems to be motivating a fair share of women to work out.  This is a good thing! However, and I am speaking in generalities here so forgive me if you do not fit this scenario, but this is what I commonly see played out in the gym:

A light warm-up on the mats, followed by 30 – 45min on an elliptical in hopes of burning up the chocolate cake indulged from last night.  Then, for good measure the lightest dumbbells off of the dumbbell rack are plucked for a few undisciplined sets.  If there is still some residual guilt there are usually a couple of crunches or planks thrown in to try in vain to flatten that tummy.  Does this sound familiar?    

From my experience the above routine is used by those who think that it will burn the most calories.  In reality very little is accomplished other than maybe burning 300'ish calories during their pilgrimage to the gym.  Pushing some descent weight will actually increase your metabolism rate for two reasons.

  1. Lean mass takes energy for your body to support it.  Think of it as living, breathing matter.  Your body will have to constantly fuel it!  Even at rest your metabolism rate will be higher.  Now opinion out there on how many calories per hour a pound of muscle will burn varies according to the research I have personally done.  I have seen everything from 6 calories to 50 calories an hour per pound of lean mass.  But consensus is that metabolism will go up.
  2. It takes energy for your body to repair itself. When you apply a load to your body it wouldn’t normally see in your everyday life, i.e. lifting heavy weights, you actually cause fine microscopic tears to the muscle fibers themselves.  After a workout with proper nutrition and rest, your body will repair itself a bit stronger than it was before.  This repair process burns calories.


Not convinced of the benefits of lifting weights ladies?  How about a few more good reasons to pound some iron?

7 Reasons Everyone (especially women) Should Lift More Weights

  1. Better Quality Sleep
  2. Increased Energy
  3. Increased Bone Density
  4. Stress Relief
  5. More Shapely & ‘Toned’ Body
  6. Improved Functional Strength
  7. Improved Self Esteem

What benefits have you personally seen ladies?

Feel free to ask questions or share your story here.  You never know who you might inspire!

tim clark bio profile picAuthor Bio: Tim Clark

Tim is a full-time gym manager/personal trainer, part-time gym designer, part-time blogger and part-time psuedo-entertaining public speaker as well as an ex-college athlete and ex-firefighter with a BS Degree from Fresno State in Kinesiology as well as an AS degree in Respiratory Therapy. His passion is seeing everyday people get healthy and live life to the fullest.

“My heart breaks for those that want to get healthy but are too intimidated to go to a gym. I strive to break those barriers and bring the vast and complex world of fitness to the common man. I love working with people fresh off the couch and turning them on to a life of health and fitness! It is a HUGE reward to get to be a small part of giving someone a second chance at living! To be more specific I LOVE to see someone like that have their ‘AH-HA!’ moment and realize there is an athlete within. That is my passion and my pay off. That is what drives me to do what I do.”

Tim can be followed via: Facebook, LinkedIn, the Community Medical Center Fit for Life Blog or reached directly by email at [email protected]

Opt In Image
Get your free e-book!
99 Workouts, no equipment required

Join the "Moose is Loose" tribe and receive health, fitness and wellness tips to keep you motivated, educated and inspired... and it all starts here!

In This E-book, You'll Learn:

  • Fast and effective workouts
  • Low to moderate to high intensity options for all levels
  • Constantly varied movements to keep you from getting bored
  • No equipment required for any of the 99 workouts

Stop making excuses for not having a gym or access to equipment, get the free e-book now!


  1. Tim, you hit the nail on the head with this article! Besides the extremes that a woman would have to go through to gain significant muscle mass, their decreased presence of testosterone is undoubtedly an enormous factor as well. I also like your “7 reasons to workout” as a way to reinforce the many benefits of weight lifting, which greatly overshadow the misconception that women who lift weights will get “huge”. Nicely done. http://www.fitnessinterest.com/

  2. I am little confused. But, if weight lifting helps in staying fit then I would love to try it. Please suggest should I start doing it or not.

    • Hi Rebecca, what part specifically are you confused about? Happy to help find some clarity. However, weight training/resistance training for any gender at any age is fantastic.

  3. I want to lose belly fat, I look so fatty. Help me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.