Women! Stop lifting weights or you will get huge!

Here is one of those exercise myths that truly needs to stop being perpetuated.
 Looking over the past 10 decades or so there are numerous examples of truly inaccurate information that people believe wholeheartedly.
 Remember when women were told not to ride bicycles because it would prevent them from having children? How about the notion that eating fat would make you fat? (If you believe that one still you need to keep reading my posts). Eating only soup is the diet answer, the grapfruit diet, the ab roller, the thighmaster, the jiggle your fat off systems. The list is not only long but extremly comical.
Somewhere in the last 20 years women have been taught that lifting weights will make them huge, muscular, hulks with deep voices and 5 o’clock shadows. OMG, this is ridiculous.
 Female clients are always telling me that they do not want to ‘get huge’ or ‘bulky’. Even better is when they tell me that within a few weeks of lifting weights they notice such large gains in muscle size that they stop the program.
 I have a deal with all of my clients that if they ever wake up, look in the mirror and think, ‘wow, I have too much muscle and look too jacked’, I will give them $100 and free training for a year. Six years of training, ten years of dispensing advice, and I have yet to pay out on that offer.
Women, you are NOT going to get huge and bulky lifting weights. In fact, the reason that you do not get the health and fitness results you are looking for is that you are stuck in this low weight, high repetition mentality that is actually taking you further from your goals.
Basically, women have significantly less testosterone in their bodies then men do, much, much lower. Testosterone is the primary hormone that lets you build muscle, hence, why men typically have more muscle and are stronger than women. In addition to that our testosterone levels peak in our mid-to-late twenties before beginning a long and drawn out decline. This means that the group of people best able to build extra muscle tissue in a short period of time is men in their mid twenties.
Here is something you may have noticed. I am in this category and I have been TRYING to gain as much muscle as possible for years. For years! And I am not there yet. I don’t look anything like a bodybuilder despite lifting as much weight as I possibly could 5 days a week for the last 8 years.
So how is a women who is older than I am with lower and declining testosterone levels able to build muscle more efficiently and faster then I am able to do it? The answer: you are not able to. Let it go!
I train everyone with a resistance that causes muscle failure around the 4 to 12 repetition mark (big margin I know, but I deal with a lot of different goals). I rarely let any client perform more then 12 repetitions of anything. I am a very experienced and very good trainer, so why would I do this?
 Because the whole point of exercise and training should be to increase strength, increase muscle mass, and challenge the body to work harder then it is used to working. If you are not trying to make your body get stronger and more efficient you are wasting a lot of time with your exercise program.  
You want to be stronger and build muscle. This is what increases your metabolism, improves your mood (controlled by hormones which respond best to higher intensity exercise), and actually gives you a significant benefit from exercising.
 Let me guess, you want to get toned? I HATE that word. Get toned? No you don’t. You want to see your muscle definition. Well guess what? You already have all of those muscles you so desperately want to see. Yet most people do not have the coveted muscle ‘tone’.What you REALLY want to do is build those muscles larger so that you can actually see them.
There are so many other benefits that come from increasing the intensity of your training. Increased growth hormone production (the stuff celebrities pay $2000 a month to inject, think about it, strength training is saving you $2000 a month!!), improved insulin response (less likely you will get diabetes!), increased metabolism (eat the same, burn more calories), and better fat oxidization (your body will burn body fat even when you are not exercising). And this is just scratching the surface of the benefits that are possible when you perform the right exercise program.
 You don’t need to start 500lbs squats and start training like a bodybuilder. You do have to increase the difficulty of your exercise to the point you can only do a movement or exercise 6-12 times before you can not do it properly anymore. You need to be working harder then your body wants to work.
If you are not breathing heavy and sweating you are not working hard enough to affect significant change in your body, health, and fitness. So chatting on the elliptical trainer, watching TV from the treadmill, or reading on the stationary bike do not qualify as efficient or useful exercise in my books. Ask around to my clients and see how many of them do those ‘non-workouts’.
So get rid of the silly notion you are going to look like a man and put away those silly 5lbs weights that you use while doing bicep curls and back rows (if you are using the same weight for your arms and back you need help with your routine ASAP). You are wasting your time.
If you do not believe me, come do ONE training sessions with me. I will even give it to you for free. I promise that in under an hour I will show you the difference between a real workout that will positively change your life and the stupid ineffective programs most women are taught.

  1. Nestle says:

    Ok… I am enjoying your posts, I like the attitude/mindset/drive you have.
    Just to be a pain here, WHY don’t you look like a body builder if you have been TRYing for years?? and how does this inspire me to follow your lead? Perhaps I can suggest a few people you could talk to who have bodybuilder physiques, one took many years building it from scratch, and one did it very quickly after shedding about a hundred excess pounds. But that is just an asside. 😎
    I agree, most people say toned and they really mean they want to be able to see the definition, which for most women (myself included) that means they want to lose the insulating layer of padding we carry around with us overtop of our lean mean muscled machines.
    Anyway I agree with your approach, sweat and pain equal results. I do as much of those as I can, and probably more than I should sometimes, as long as I can make myself keep at it.

  2. Taylor says:

    I dont look like a bodybuilder because I changed my goals years ago. Not what I am looking for. I dont have the determination to do it because it is not waht I want to achieve. That part of my post was more reflective of the time when I was pursuing more of a bodybuilding physique. It was to illustrate the point that at the time I was trying hard to get there ,harder than most people try, and did not achieve it. Could I have if I pursued it, probably, but the goals and intnet chnaged.
    Thanks for posting though, I enjo reading others thoughts, helps me clarify the messages I am trying to convey!

  3. Taylor says:

    I would also like to mention that at no point did I say you CANT look like a bodybuilder. You can if that is your goal. What the issue is revolves around the fact that so many women think if they lift over 15 pounds they are going to get these huge bulking muscles and look like a man. So they spend all their time lifting those silly 5lbs dumbells and wonder why they never achieve their goals!

  4. Nestle says:

    Hear Hear!
    I was just being antagonistic I guess.
    I do agree, but at the same time, when I am at the gym, and see those little 19 year old girls peddaling and walking while they read a mag, and never break a sweat I just keep thinking they probably don’t need to do more than that cause they really shouldn’t be at a gym anyway, so let them keep wasting thier time.
    I go, I sweat, I push, and I hurt afterward, with a minimum of results… I guess I just keep thinking that I should see SOME results after 4 months of work, and yes Ihave changed my eating immensly in the last 4 months as well.
    so those little girls with their 5 pound dumbells and magazines can be a real spirit breaker for me. they should ban them from the gym! but that is just one woman’s opinion. I am not striving for power lifting champ or anything, just wish I could see some difference. Once my whiplash is better I will be back at the weights again, the last month has been a drag just walking and peddaling, although I do it better, harder, and faster than anyone else I see.
    Anyway keep up the good work. Maybe you have some tips on how to keep the mental fortitude in line with the goals?

  5. kath says:

    I laughed out loud to read this. “Let it go!” You might have written this just for me but I see from the date you didn’t. Your comments that you can’t change my genes, or remove any part of my vastus lateralis and nor do you recommend anorexia, have been internalized with good humor.
    As for Nestle’s post,I too see the 19 year old thin things, and try to remember that they haven’t likely had two beautiful children. I don’t know if they can bench press 85 lbs, but I know I can (I now believe Taylor when he says he does not help). I’ll try bench pressing my kids next. What I can do is all that matters. What brings someone else to the gym is their business.
    Thanks for your help with the workouts and for your intelligent writing.

  6. Wintle44 says:

    Uhh, Taylor…I think that I have too much muscle and look too jacked. Seriously, it’s beginning to be a problem. I’ll take that $100 in cheque form, thanks. ; )
    I think that some women need to get over themselves and start realizing their potential to be completely kickass. Life motto? I think so!

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