As a strength coach at a small personal training boutique, I get the opportunity to train a lot of women looking to improve their physique, health markers, and habits.
Oftentimes, my novice female clients who are just starting out in our gym lifting weights will express that they really don’t want to get bulky, so they don’t want to lift heavier weights. These clients may have an image in their mind of a female athlete, bodybuilder, etc. who have taken their physique to the highest level, and know that’s not the physique that they are aiming for. But I promise you, lifting weights and training 2-3x per week is not going to result in that top 1% of physiques. Weight training will not cause you to lose your femininity.
We always like to use the analogy that just because you have a driver’s license does not mean that you are automatically going to be a Nascar driver. We are all capable of taking our physiques to the extreme, but it takes immense dedication, consistency, a strict nutrition strategy, and often unnatural advantages, that the majority of women don’t pursue when starting their health and fitness journey.
Before we jump into the benefits of weight training for women, let’s quickly touch on the reasons why you won’t actually get ‘bulky’, and how to start reframing your mindset around fitness, and the physique-based goals you want to achieve.
Science Says ‘No, Women Won’t Become Bulky…’
The reason why men (biologically male) are so apt to gain muscle mass comes down to their hormones, specifically testosterone. Women (biologically female) do not produce enough testosterone naturally to see the same level of muscle gain. Now, if a woman were to supplement with testosterone (a.k.a. steroids), then yes, her physique would have the ability to put on muscle mass much like a man. With steroid use, there are a whole host of other side effects that will make a large impact on the user’s life.
So, a typical general fitness female client is not going to get bulky – it’s a myth – we promise! Want to check out some of the other fitness myths and get the true story? We’ve Debunked a few on an older article, Achieving Your Fitness Goals: 7 Common Myths You Shouldn’t Believe.
Is Your Dream Body ‘Toned’?
What does it mean to be toned, especially when you’re describing your physique goals to your coach or personal trainer? Lower body fat, shapely thighs, glutes, arms, and slim waist. Losing weight does not equate a toned physique. Increasing your musculature in those areas is what will give you the look of a ‘toned’ physique when weight loss begins to happen.
If your goal is to see more muscle tone, then you will need to start by finding a training program and nutrition strategy that will help you achieve your physique goals. Most untrained individuals (novice lifters or detrained strength athletes) will see muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) by just implementing a structured full body workout 2-3x per week.
We have many experienced female clients at PP who have been strength training for years. One of our female clients is even a National Record holder in USPA Powerlifting in the 65-69 age category, and let me tell you, she is anything but bulky.
So please, PLEASE, don’t fall prey to the mentality that weight training is just for young men.
How Much Muscle Gain Is Actually Going to Happen?
Once again, science says… Naturally, your body will be able to lay down a maximum of a ¼ of a pound of muscle per week, which averages out to be 1 pound (or so) per month, and up to 12 pounds per year. If you’re noticing that your rate of weight gain is higher than 1 pound per month, then you are probably gaining fat, because you don’t have your nutrition strategy on point.
Nutrition is an important ingredient to achieving physique-based goals, especially if losing scale weight is the focus. More crucial than your training, if you don’t have a handle on your nutrition strategy then you will be spinning your wheels endlessly trying to out-exercise a bad diet.
If you’re looking for accountability and the nutrition strategy that will allow you to still eat foods that you like while still losing weight, we have the nutrition program for you. My goal as a Certified Nutrition Coach is to provide education, support, and accountability, all while keeping my clients focused on making goal-oriented habit changes that help them to build a healthy lifestyle and relationship towards their nutrition.
Benefit #1: Fight Bone Loss
One of the biggest concerns women have as they age is bone loss, turning into osteoporosis. Along with taking your vitamins and supplements, weight training consistently every week is recommended to fight bone loss, and actually increase your bone density.
Benefit #2: Metabolic Rate Improvement
By increasing your muscle mass through weight training, you will actually increase your caloric expenditure on a daily basis. Now what does that truly mean? An improved metabolism means that you will be able to increase your daily calories in (Eat More!), in a structured and goal-oriented way of course. Remember what I said above about your nutrition and reaching your goals…
Benefit #3: Happy Doctor’s Appointments and Improved Health Markers
Adhering to a structured exercise plan of 2-3 workouts per week, and a proper nutrition strategy will see your blood tests improve (for individuals without pre-existing conditions), which make for less anxiety-ridden yearly check ups. Your doctor will definitely ask you what you’ve been doing, and recommend that you keep it up!
Benefit #4: More Confidence and Better Self-Image
Let me tell you, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work pay off. Especially if you’ve been working towards a physique goal. Once you realize how strong and capable you are in the gym, it will actually translate to your daily life. Imagine having the confidence to rock that little black dress at the next company party. Your confidence and positive attitude will be infectious, and everyone will be asking you what you’ve been doing (not just your doctor).
Outside of physical changes bringing you confidence, weight training will give you the independence to tackle everyday tasks and challenges, like grabbing that 50lb bag of soil from the home improvement store, or moving an awkward piece of furniture at your house.
Benefit #5: Bring on the Stress Relief
Exercise is a great outlet for stress relief, a structured weight training program especially. Whether you’re a wife, mom, student, CEO, or just a generally busy woman, coming into the gym and lifting weights is a perfect place to pour your stress out, or even anxiety and frustrations. I’ve had plenty of clients who have told me that they appreciate the simplicity of just coming into to lift heavy things and put them back down after a hectic work day, or a stressful week of chauffeuring kids to and fro.
Science backs it too, after exercising your body will give you chemical ‘rewards’ like dopamine and serotonin, making sure that you feel so much better walking out of the gym than you did walking in.
Are You Ready to Start Seeing the Benefits of Weight Training?
Now that I successfully convinced you that you won’t become bulky by lifting more than little 2lb pink dumbbells, and that the physique goals that you have are achievable – let’s get started on your own health and fitness journey! Which of the 5 benefits are you most looking forward to adding to your life through a structured strength training program?
Let us know – send an email to [email protected] – and a coach will be in contact with you about how we can help you.