It’s a common fitness adage: women should do many repetitions of lifts with lighter weights to “tone and sculpt,” and avoid heavy weights lest they develop vein-bulging muscle mass (most unfeminine, for sure – but that’s for another article). In truth, though, the vast majority don’t need to worry about turning into the Hulk when they lift heavy weights. On the contrary, serious weightlifting can help you slim down while also strengthening your bones.
Busting the Myth
If you’re a woman who wants to improve your physique, strength and fitness without looking like a body builder who’s pumped up on steroids, you can pick up those weights without fear.
While body composition of course varies among both men and women, the vast majority of women simply don’t have the amount of testosterone necessary or the genetic makeup to pack on voluminous muscle without a lot of effort, supplementation, and changes to your diet.
How Women Gain Muscle
You’ll certainly gain some muscle mass due to strength training, and for some women that can involve building some of that feared “bulk.” Depending on your body type and weight, that muscle may be more defined and visible – after all, you’re strength training!
If you have a fairly muscular physique in general, you’ll likely gain more visible muscle when you lift heavy weights. If you’re curvier or very lean, you’ll still become stronger by lifting heavy weights, but those changes likely won’t be as obvious. Either way, however, it is highly unlikely that your muscles will suddenly balloon to Popeye proportions if you shift your workout to fewer repetitions of heavier weights.