Have you ever noticed a dichotomy between the sexes when it comes to activities in the gym?
It’s something I have noticed for years, but have never really understood. Go to any gym around
the world and you will notice the same split: women bouncing from treadmill to elliptical,
sometimes for up to an hour, and men congregating around the dumbbells. Yes, these are
stereotypes, but they are based on truth. And while I appreciate not having to wait in line since I
spend the majority of my gym time at the squat rack, I find the reality of what this split says
about women’s fitness to be quite troubling.
Nothing to Fear
Women clients tell me they fear lifting. “I don’t want to get big and bulky,” they say. “That’s not
attractive.” What they don’t realize is that lifting weights won’t turn them into gigantic
meatheads. NOT lifting weights is compromising the results they’re actually looking for. My
guess is that the idea of becoming bulky from weightlifting comes from the way weightlifters are
portrayed in the media.
Yes, you can certainly turn into one of those bulky, oily, competitive body builders if you train
with that goal in mind. But, if your goal is to get lean, look healthy, feel healthy and develop a
functional strength that creates benefits at all ages (not to mention that most would agree
strong is very sexy), then strength training is for you.
As a general rule, women won’t get bulky unless they take muscle-mass-building supplements.
Your strength-enhancing hormone levels, such as testosterone, are significantly lower than
those of men. And while lifting heavy weights for strength will help you maintain or raise your
testosterone levels, it will do so to normal levels which can help with energy, sex drive, and
building strength. Not so terrible, right?
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Also, the presence and baseline levels of a protein called myostatin in women (and men) make it
very hard to become what most would consider “bulky.” Myostatin at normal levels inhibits
muscle growth. Yes, as in everything in life, there are outliers – people who can easily build bulk.
But chances are you are not one of them. So fear not growing “Arnold” muscles and start to
Have I convinced you now? In my next post I’ll talk about how you can get started. So stay