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Women & Weight Training – Dispelling the “bulky” myth

By October 28, 2019 No Comments


If I had a dollar for every time a woman said that to me, I wouldn’t have to work.

Time and time again I have seen women scream at the weights and run for the cardio machines… why?
Out of fear that they will ‘bulk up’ when their goal is to be slim, toned, and with minimal body fat.

I’m here to debunk that myth.

Let me start by saying, I get it. I used to fear the dreaded ‘bulked-up’ look and thought weights would make me able to give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money, but it’s just not true.

Here’s 3 simple reasons why.

  1. People who are bulky are 9/10 times TRYING to look that way: That is their goal! They are eating more than their share of food, training multiple times a week, working with a coach (most likely) and tracking everything to a T! Every single piece of food that is put into their mouth, every single training session they are doing is undertaken with the GOAL of becoming bigger and stacking on the muscle.
  2. It is HARD for women to get bulky: “Wait what? But… I’ve seen girls who are muscle machines…” How many? Do you see a ton of them walking around the streets? No. Exactly! Our genetics limit us as to how much muscle and size we can actually gain. We do not have the same hormonal profile as men, so unless we are taking exogenous hormones (i.e., Testosterone/estrogen boosters or performance enhancing drugs) we cannot get bigger than our genetics permit us. (If you want to know more about female hormones, watch this space. We here at BodySeek are setting up a Ladies Health Seminar!)
  3. Weights at the gym don’t speak a secret language to your muscles: What do I mean by this? Your muscles don’t know a dumbbell from a handbag. Load is load. Receptors in your muscles detect resistance (weight) and react accordingly. Mum’s out there, you wouldn’t refuse to pick up your newborn out of fear of getting bulky? No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t leave your groceries or shopping spree collection in the car out of fear of getting muscle man arms would you? No!

Muscle is a dense tissue, far denser than fat. It is far more metabolically active, meaning, it boosts your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories both at rest and as you move around. Doesn’t that sound lovely? If you’re wanting the ‘toned’ and ‘tight’ look, resistance training is your key to success.

Not only that, strength training itself:

  1. Boosts metabolism both during and after exercise: Its post-exercise caloric burn lasts anywhere from 24-48 hours, as opposed to aerobic exercise which gives you a 4-8-hour window.
  2. Number #1 for bone health: The stress placed on the bone as your muscles contract around them during exercise triggers a cascade of events which lead to increased bone strength, reducing your risk of osteoporosis, injury and osteopenia.
  3. Increases insulin sensitivity: What does this mean? Your body is better able to tolerate carbohydrates. It has more storage room for carbohydrates and is less likely to store them as fat.
  4. Increased strength: Your ability to perform activities of everyday living (ADL)’s goes up! Carrying the kids, shopping, and all your man’s problems won’t be as tiring. Your body adapts to the stress in the gym, allowing you to be stronger, healthier, more resilient to fatigue with a better posture and overall quality of life.
  5. Mental health and increased self-esteem: Exercise is great for your wellbeing, we all know this. But proving to yourself that you are strong in the gym and feeling yourself master different exercises leads to increased mental resilience, self-perception and self-esteem. You, and every woman out there, deserves this.

So ladies, next time you head into the gym, wonder over to the weights section and have a go. If you are nervous, ask a coach or someone who knows their way around the gym to show you the ropes. Strength training is so important for us, not just for physical health, but also mental health.

Post by Senior Coach Rhiannon Healy

BSC Clinical Exercise Science,

Accredited Clinical Exercise Scientist,

Certified Nutrition & Hormone Coach

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