The Truth About Weight Lifting For Women

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We’ve all been told that women can’t lift weights and still lose weight. We’ll get bulky, look big and will actually go up in size. And while many women have heard that this idea is a myth, they aren’t really sure why, and that uncertainty makes them reluctant to hit the gym and lift. But by not lifting, women are missing a valuable component to their exercise regime, one that actually makes losing weight and looking thin easier. So let’s crush this fitness myth once and for all. Why is it a myth that women can’t lift?

The idea goes that when you lift weights, the fibers in your muscles actually accumulate small, microscopic tears. When your body goes to repair these tears, it fills in the damage with extra muscle tissue, and over time, causes the muscle to grow and bulk. And while this process does happen to women when they lift, it just doesn’t create bulk. The bulky, beast-like muscles you see on guys at the gym comes from the acceleration of this muscle building process that comes from excess testosterone in the system. Women just don’t have enough testosterones in their systems for rapid muscle growth to occur (unless they’re taking steroids). Instead women will see tightened, toned and leaner looking muscles from lifting, which is the result that women who exercise are after.

But lifting goes beyond just making muscles look more toned and defined. By adding more muscle mass to your overall body composition, you’re actually making your body a more efficient calorie burning machine and increasing your metabolism. Muscle tissue burns more calories and fat per hour than fatty tissue does, even when the body’s at rest. So if you lift weights and turn some of your body’s fat into muscle, even when you’re sitting on the couch flipping channels, your body is burning more calories than it was when you started lifting. And that can lead to even more weight loss.

So ladies, how much should you be lifting to get toned muscles and a revved up metabolism? Ideally a women who has never lifted weights should start with 2-3 sessions of 25-35 minutes per week, and will focus on total body strength and conditioning. Choose weights that are heavy enough to cause fatigue by the end of the set (typically 8-15 reps of a single exercise) but don’t cause unnecessary strain or pain in the joints.

Try including exercises for the upper and lower extremities as well as the core for best results. Exercises that combine more than one area, like medicine ball lunges with an upper body twist or free weight squats with a bicep curl, are also great to get more work done more efficiently. As you progress, you can add more weights and more diverse exercises to keep your body challenged. And just keep in mind that even if you go up in weight on a particular exercise, that won’t cause you to bulk, you’ll just get more toned.

Lifting weights is one of the best things any women can do to improve her overall fitness level and appearance. And no matter what those pesky myths out there try to tell you about getting bulky, unless you’re taking testosterone shots, you won’t get big. Instead your body composition will change from mostly fat to mostly muscle, and that will leave you with a rockin’ body. So let’s hit the gym with the boys and show them that girls can lift too.


  1. Emma M

    I already knew about this being a myth but if I could get it out there, good and loud, I would. I hate that a woman touching weights gets told “Be careful, don’t get too big!”.
    Every single time I have to say,” Not going to happen unless I start injecting testosterone!”.
    I have seen the gorgeous and fit results of women doing weights and it’s all good!

  2. Vivian

    Lifting weights is great for muscles building and fat loss. I recommend it to all of my clients. I’m particularly partial to crossfitters. While I don’t do it myself, their passion for lifting is amazing. Check out the tumblr gifs of female crossfitters women doing dead lifts and power cleans.

  3. Kelsey, r.j

    Weight lifting has totally transformed my body into a fat burning powerhouse. I love what it’s done for me and wish I had started lifting sooner.

  4. Elinore Stone

    Any website recommendations for women getting started in weight lifting?

  5. Haley

    This is definitely something a lot of girls (including myself) worry about when they think about weight training. I mean look at Serena Williams. She is very big and bulky to me and she supposedly does not take steroids. It seems like every time I workout for a couple months I end up stopping because I start getting paranoid that I am getting bulky.

  6. SFx

    Basically it comes down to “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” It really dendpes on your body type to determine whats best for you to personally gain muscle. Personally, I found it difficult to gain muscle until I started taking supplements. Protein powder is essential, so start there as a staple and try experimenting with different supplements. I’m currently take NO Explode (a mix of cretine, nitric oxide and caffine) before I work out. The theory behind it is it allows you to work out longer and lift heavier weights which results in more muscle mass. After the work out I take protein powder it helps with the rebuilding of muscles after a workout. They say you’re supposed to intake 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. So if you weigh 160 lbs, then you should be taking in 160 grams of protein, daily. That’s very hard to achieve naturally. Naturally you do have to go to the gym in addition to taking anything. No getting around that.Btw mono-creatine is what bloats the muscle through water retension. There are other types that do not.

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