When you think of being fit and strong, do you think of being big and bulky?
As a women do you think lifting weights is going to make you bulky?
We need to address the misconception that women will get big and bulky from lifting weights. If you understand the science behind lifting weights, muscle growth and the relationship it has with a women’s body you will realise that you are not going to walk out of the gym looking like a body builder if you lift weights in your sessions, unless of course your goal is to look like a bodybuilder.
Women do not have the levels of testosterone nor the equivalent human growth hormone that men have, for this reason men have greater muscle density and build muscle quicker than women. Women on the other hand have less muscle density, which in turn means when we lift weights we do not build muscle as quickly.
As a women a better way of looking at ‘lifting weights’ would be to think of it as ‘strength training’, increasing your strength but not building big and bulky muscles.
As we age strength training becomes more important as it is effective in preserving muscle mass and preventing a reduction in muscle strength and size, and the decline of our metabolic rate (resulting in the so called middle age spread); which all happens naturally with age.
Strength training can also help prevent the severity of osteoporosis by putting stress on bones which can in turn nudge bone-forming cells into action. That stress comes from the tugging and pushing on bone during strength building exercises, resulting in stronger, denser bones.
However, if you continue to pick up the same weight day after day, week after week, your muscles and bones are not going to get any stronger, in fact they can decline because those weights become your body’s norm and the natural decline of muscle and bone will simply continue. In order to progressively overload your muscles to make your musculoskeletal system stronger you need to pick up those heavier weights.
In summary, with strength training your bones and muscles become stronger, but you will not become big and bulky. When you have stronger muscles and bones you become more active, with a faster and healthier metabolism, and you burn more calories at rest. Therefore, women who strength train will live a longer, happier and healthier life. So next time you are strength training in the gym pick up slightly heavier weight than last week, even if it is only for one exercise.