Females & Weightlifting

One of the most common misconceptions that we come across as personal trainers is the fear that females will become too muscular if they use heavy weights (those pretty 5lb pink weights do not count). Where do these perceptions come from? First off, it begins with the media and weight lifting magazines such as Shape, Muscle Hers, Oxygen etc.  These popular reads visually portray women who are in shape doing light weighted exercises (15 or more reps.)  The reader can then surmise, if I use light weights, I can look like this!  Wrong. These ‘media and magazine’ ladies follow VERY strict diet regimens and exercise for hours a day.  They literally live and breathe exercise and nutrition.  Furthermore, they get paid to look that way from sponsors and supplement companies.  Does this sound like the average female?  Not so much.  Also, consider the following:  Photoshop and steroids.

Secondly, how your male counterparts use weights  can be intimidating. Look around in any gym and/or sports club and a person can literally smell the testosterone! Observe the alpha male rituals that include: loud grunts and scantily designed shirts so they can show off to their female counterparts – males will gladly add an extra 25lbs to “look cool.”  So it’s simple science; perform the same exercises as the gorillas, and you as the female will end up looking like them!  Not so fast ladies!  I do applaud your impeccable form, which guys could emulate, but the resistance that you are lifting, needs to be much heavier.   Relax, you won’t grow huge gorilla like muscles because women lack the degree of testosterone that males have, almost 20 times less (YES, TWO, ZERO =TWENTY). 

Thirdly, it is important to use heavier weights because females are more prone to osteoporosis (porous bones, think of a sponge). Once menopause sets in, estrogen gradually declines and this is a huge precursor to weaker bones.  For males, it is the opposite – guys can become prone to osteoporosis as they produce less testosterone.  If you listen to popular doctor shows or watch the media, they all say that vitamin D and lots of calcium make bones stronger.  This is true, but only to a certain degree.  It is necessary for women to add sufficient resistance in their weight training so bones can rebuild.  Studies have shown that completing 10 repetitions to fatigue will maximize bone remodeling along with maximizing your results.  Some good exercises to begin with would be squats, lunges, bench press and shoulder press.

In the end, adding more resistance will help achieve that toned, sexy and feminine look!   Don’t fret because of the added weight; it’s extremely unlikely that a woman would look like a guy due to the hormone testosterone.  The extra weight will only help reduce the chances of bone issues later in life and the additional muscle will help increase the resting metabolism.