Women Should Lift Heavy

In spite of how much the fitness industry tries to dispel myths among the mainstream, there are a few that will never cease to prevail. One in particular just never seems to go away, and that’s whether women should lift. 

Do you fear looking manly or too bulky from lifting weights? Fear not. It won’t happen to you!


Women who lift heavy


You will get bulky muscles.  You will look like a man.


Who says these things?!


People who don’t understand.


The general perception is that a woman who lifts heavy weights will get bulky, man-like muscles.  There are a flurry of pictures on the internet of women who have more muscles than your husband, of women who have quads bigger than Arnold (“The Governator”), of women who are just downright scary… so it’s easy to see why so many women fear picking up a weight heavier than a can of soup.


The reality is that those women you see are usually on performance enhancing drugs.  The reality is that women don’t have the right balance of hormones (i.e.: not enough testosterone) to put on muscle mass in the way a man does.  A man creates 10x more anabolic hormones than a woman does and it is the anabolic hormones that create and encourage muscle growth.  Even if women train at the same weight/intensity as their male counterpart, their bodies’ reaction to that training is much smaller and much slower.


However, the “bulky muscle” mindset is ever-so-slowly shifting.  With the boom of social media (like Instagram and Twitter), leading a healthy lifestyle is becoming “trendy”.  Lifting (for women) is becoming a “thing”.


I will admit that I was one of those women.  For years, I lifted, and I trained, but no where close to the intensity I do today.  I grew up an athlete, but I was still scared of the bulky muscles that would make me look manly.  I was scared of oversized lats and biceps.  I spent hours upon hours in the pool for cardio.  Calories out was good, right?  However, it was when I started pushing myself to lift heavier that I started to see a real change in my body composition.  I started seeing true definition in my muscles… my body fat decreased… and I looked better.


Ladies, don’t be scared of the iron.  Wear those skin-protecting lifting gloves with pride, and pick up those weights.


NOTE: Form first.  Do not move immediately into lifting heavy.  Focus on getting the correct movement pattern(s) “memorized” before progressing into heavier weights.  Do not sacrifice form for a PR (personal record).  What good is a body in motion, if your body is in pain?


Find your fix.


This article was republished with permission from BodyRx


Lianne Gong is a former US Swimming competitive swimmer and water polo player. After spending over a decade competing at a national level, she has dedicated the past 11 years to coaching/training athletes in the pool, on the land, and in the gym.