Updated: Aug 3
In the world of fitness, myths often circulate around women and weightlifting, creating misconceptions that can discourage women from embracing the benefits of strength training. In this blog post, we will address and debunk three common myths: the fear that weightlifting will make women bulky, the notion that women should train drastically differently than men, and the belief that women cannot gain noticeable strength and muscle. By dispelling these myths, we aim to encourage women who are discouraged from doing so to lift weights, which will help them attain many physical and mental health benefits.
One prevailing myth is the fear that weightlifting will cause women to become overly muscular and bulky. However, this is far from the truth. Women have lower levels of testosterone compared to men, which limits their potential for significant muscle growth. Engaging in weightlifting will enhance muscle tone, strength, and definition, resulting in a fit and sculpted physique rather than excessive bulkiness. In addition, we know that you need to eat in a calorie surplus to gain substantial amounts of muscle. If you are wary of weight lifting because you don’t want to gain too much muscle, you can simply eat at your maintenance calories or slightly above, and gain at a slower rate. Lastly, the great part about muscle growth is you control the signal for it through weight lifting - so if you ever feel you’re getting too muscular, you can just do less weekly weight training volume and maintain your physique, or progress at a slower rate.
Another misconception is that women should follow drastically different training approaches compared to men. While it's true that individual fitness goals and preferences may vary, the fundamental principles of strength training remain the same for both genders. Women can benefit from utilizing progressive overload, focusing on compound exercises, and following proper programming just like men. The key is to tailor the training program to individual goals and abilities rather than assuming women require an entirely different approach. It isn’t uncommon for women to respond slightly better to higher rep training (meaning 15-25 reps) and need less time to recover between sets. Therefore if you do start training and it feels very easy, it may be worth training with more reps, and taking a little less rest between sets. However, the idea that if you're a women and you want to gain muscle you should just use resistance bands and bodyweight is absurd. No matter your gender, muscle is built by using a mix of compound and isolation exercises in the 6-25 rep range, taking the sets close to failure, and trying to progress yourself over time.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, women are fully capable of gaining strength and building lean muscle mass. Strength and muscle development are not limited to men alone. Through consistent resistance training, women can experience substantial improvements in their strength, endurance, and overall muscle tone. With a well-designed training program, proper nutrition, and adequate recovery, women can achieve remarkable progress in their fitness journey. This often doesn’t leave women feeling bulky - it leaves them feeling strong, confident and fit. The differences in strength levels between men and women are often just due to the difference between their body sizes (ie. a 120lb man and women on most exercises can be of similar strength levels - men seem to have more strength potential simply because their average bodyweight is higher than that of women).
It's time to shatter the myths surrounding women and weightlifting. By embracing strength training, women can enhance their physical and mental well-being, improve bone density, boost metabolism, and develop a strong, confident physique.
Kurtis Proksch, CSCS, CNC, PTS
Head Strength Coach