There’s been a longstanding rule that women should be careful not to lift if they don’t want to bulk up and end up looking like The Hulk. It’s as if we’ve had this equation burned into our subconscious: lifting = muscle mass = bulk = Hulk (minus the green hue).
Personal trainers can talk until we’re green in the face to convince clients otherwise, but we can always tell there’s still a bit of fear when we recommend weight training.
Unless you have incredibly high levels of testosterone (levels only achieved through steroid use which is dangerous and illegal) and are wearing an avocado face mask, weight lifting will bring you no closer to Hulk-like appearance than any other exercise.
Women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (the body-builder bulk). In fact, the prevalence of steroid use in body building is indicative of how hard it is, for both women and men, to bulk up.
Weight lifting and strength training are, in fact, key for women’s health. On top of not bulking up, women who do strength training and lifting will:
Become physically stronger without bulking up. Strength training can help you be healthier in daily life when lifting books, kids, groceries and more. My clients are surprised to find that women can increase their strength at the same rate of men. Additionally, strength training shows incredible benefits for back health and joint pain (like arthritis) because it builds stronger connective tissues and strengthens joints.
Lose fat and gain muscle. You will absolutely get definition when you strip away the fat through these exercises. And when you increase lean muscle, you also increase your resting metabolism, in turn burning more calories throughout the day.
Decrease your risk of Osteoporosis. Strength training is the only way through exercise to improve bone density in women.
Decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease. Naturally, most clients who do strength training tend to have healthier lifestyles and incorporate cardio into their exercise regimes. With any exercise program, our bodies benefit by lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol, metabolizing sugars, in turn lowering our risk of Type II diabetes.
Personal trainers encourage lifting and weight training and really hope that through literature and education, we can take the fear out of weight lifting and training. It’s a phenomenal way for women to get healthier and tone up. Coupled with cardio and healthy eating habits, weight lifting and strength training are ingredients to a toner, healthier, better body.
So, let’s lift!