There are hundreds of fitness myths which can influence a woman when entering the world of fitness, and one of the biggest fears being that weight training makes women appear ‘bulky’. This is something which I feared also when I started training two years ago, and after receiving this question on Instagram over the weekend, I thought it’d be really great to research this topic in depth. I thought it’d be beneficial to write a blog post on my findings to further educate not only myself, but hopefully help you guys with any questions you may have as well.🙌
To be brutally honest with you, there’s actually no correct answer to this question. And for me to say ‘no’ outright would be wrong, because it’s not the weights alone which will determine your results and physique. It’s weights, combined with lots of other factors. Let me explain:
Point One: Let’s get the elephant out of the room firstly: Yes, weight training does have the capabilities of increasing the size of your muscles – but in order to enhance their size dramatically, weight training needs to be effective, continually progressive and combined with an increase in daily food intake.
- It takes A LOT of hard work, determination and dedication to building big muscles to significantly increase their size. It usually requires more than 2/3 strength training sessions every week to achieve a big, bodybuilding physique.
- Hormones play a huge part in muscle growth. Aside from total dedication and strict regimes, women naturally have lower testosterone levels than men, and this makes it harder for us to develop really significant muscle growth.
- To enhance the size of your muscles dramatically, training with heavy weights must go hand in hand with your diet. For professional athletes in particular, they normally follow very strict nutritional regimes which are focused on muscle gain as their top priority.
In the words of Alexia Clark, an online fitness sensation; ‘To really get bulky while lifting heavy weights, your diet would have to change significantly to eating a very high calorie, carb, and protein diet.’ ‘Lifting heavy weights will not only give you a firm womanly body, but it will also make you strong mentally. By challenging ourselves in every workout to push a bit harder, we will see a difference in other aspects of our life as well.’
Point Two: On the contrary to gaining huge muscle mass, if you’re looking to burn fat, shape your natural curves, tighten up and tone your entire body, then weights can also help you achieve this look. And here’s why:
ONE: Weight Training shapes your body.
You’ve probably seen the image that’s circulated the internet over a billion times, which shows that 5lbs of Muscle is much smaller than 5lbs of Body Fat. (And for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past 8 years, please see below..😉😘)
Relating this now to your body, imagine replacing the majority of your body fat with lean muscle. Aesthetically you could appear smaller, and in toning your muscle, you can appear to have more muscle definition and shape.
TWO: You can actually burn more calories with weight training.
Muscles need fuel to maintain themselves, because unlike fat, they require energy even when you are resting. The more lean muscle you have, the more energy you burn. Another couple of really cool things about gaining lean muscle is that it can lead to an increase in your metabolism, improve the regulation of your hormones, and your central nervous system learns to adapt to and manage physical stress.
THREE: Weight training helps you lose fat!
Weight training can be very high intensity, which can leave your body burning calories at a higher rate for a period of time even when you finish your session. This is down to lots of different reasons, including metabolic changes, hormones and oxygen deficits, which can result in your body burning fat even when you’ve put down your weights.
FOUR: Weight training strengthens your bones.
Training weights has the capabilities of increasing bone density, which in turn can reduce the risk of breaks and fractures as you age.
FIVE: Weight training is an amazing way to measure personal growth.
One of the most incredible things about weight training is being able to measure personal growth. You can see (physically) the benefits of training in your physique and muscle definition, measure your weight lifting progression in numbers, and also measure your own personal mindset growth and outlook on weight training, too. Being able to measure your progression helps you track success, which can be very rewarding and satisfying.
One super big thing to remember!*
If there’s one thing that you take away from this blog post, please let it be this:
MUSCLE WEIGHS GREATER THAN FAT
If you’re training weights and suddenly see an increase in your weight on the scales, DON’T FREAK OUT. Muscle weighs heavier than fat, so technically speaking, if your body fat percentage goes down but your muscular ratio goes up, your weight could stay the same or potentially increase.
(My advice to any ladies wanting to build muscle in order to tone up would be to ditch the scales if you can. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still working on this myself, because for me it’s a really huge step but it’s something I’m working towards and really trying to focus on. I completely understand and realise that it’s super tricky to change your mindset in this way, but trust me it’s for the best and I’m 100% with you.✨)
I guess what I’m really trying to express in this article is basically, do not worry. If you eat spinach and protein and do squats and deadlifts at the gym tomorrow, don’t sweat it! You WON’T wake up Green and Hulky in the morning! Growing muscles to ‘bulk’ or achieve the look of a professional bodybuilder will not happen without dedicating yourself and your life to a muscle-gain regime. These athletes train day in-day out, and their lives often revolve around one goal: Gaining muscle. You won’t become Pop-eye overnight by accident, I absolutely promise you😘.
Did you like this article? Feel free to leave a comment below, and if you have any questions or fancy sharing an experience, please don’t hesitate to message me!❤️
*I am not a Personal Trainer, Nutritionist or Health Professional. I do not possess any health, fitness, or nutritional advice qualifications, and my posts are based from research I have found online or in books. For tailored health advice, please always consult your GP*