It is a common misconception by women that lifting heavy weights will cause them to bulk up and “make them look big”. I’m here to set the record straight.

Attention Ladies – PSA. Lifting heavy weights will NOT cause you to bulk up. It will actually cause you to TONE up. And here’s why:

  1. Women do not produce the same amount of testosterone that men do.

In fact, women make 15-20 times less testosterone compared to men. Testosterone is the hormone that causes men to gain muscle mass. And because they produce so much testosterone, they are more equipped to put on muscle mass and “bulk up”. Therefore, women will not be able to gain as much muscle mass as men unless they supplement testosterone into their bodies.

  1. The “toning” effect is what happens when women develop muscle. 

Without testosterone, muscle will develop, but not gain a large amount of mass. When women lift weights, fat is essentially being removed and uncovering a well-developed muscle, thus giving off the “toned” appearance.

  1. Heavy weights will promote STRENGTH not SIZE. 

Did you know that when you’re lifting a weight over 85% of your 1RM, the primary stress imposed on the body is on the nervous system, not the muscles? This means that your strength will increase by a neurological effect, not by increasing the size of the muscles.

In order to increase the size of your muscles, hypertrophy has to happen. Hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs as a result of muscle damage. This type of muscle damage can be achieved through high volume training. High volume training consists of essentially 100 repetitions geared towards one muscle group (at a moderate weight). Typical strength programs include 5-6 sets of 3-5 reps (increasing the weight each set). At most that’s 30 reps. So, unless you’re hitting 100 repetitions on each muscle group and supplementing testosterone, you do not have to worry about bulking up.

  1. Bulking up is calorie – dependent.

The general rule is: if you eat more than you’re burning, you will gain weight. If you eat less than you’re burning, you will lose weight. Whether you are lifting heavy weights or not, your weight is dependent on what/how much you eat.

So, ladies- do NOT be afraid to increase the weight on certain exercises. Remember that if it is not challenging you, it is not changing you. Not sure where to start? Contact us, we can help you get started on your journey towards your goals!

Written by Tayler M