Let’s get straight to the point here because I think this is very important:
ALL women should lift weights
— and heavy weights at that.
You absolutely will not get “too buff”, “too bulky” or look “manly” just because you pick heavy things up and put them down.
Can you get big and bulky? Yes. But that would be your fitness goal and would take a ton of work to get there. You don’t accidentally get 20” biceps by using the weighted bar in an aerobics class.
Here are 3 reasons to back up my claims:
- Naturally, it is impossible for a woman to gain the same amount of size as a man because of the difference in the levels of testosterone. Males have an average of 15x more testosterone in their bodies at any given time than females. So, unless there are some extracurricular activities (i.e anabolics) going on there’s just no way a woman is going to put on muscle mass at a rate even close to that of males.
On average women have about 55% as much upper body strength as men, but, the lower body is much closer at around 70% compared to men according to a study conducted by the NCBI. But, I would not be surprised at all if that number was even closer for lower body strength judging by what I see daily in the gym — I’m looking at you curl in the squat rack guy.
Why does it matter what the strength comparisons are between men and women, Chris?
For starters, it shows you that women can be strong but naturally aren’t going to get as strong as men. This coupled with the difference in testosterone means that the ability to get “big and bulky” really just isn’t there naturally — unless you WANT to get big and bulky.
- I recently read an article from T Nation by Chris Shugart that detailed the role growth hormone plays in muscle building for women. Rather than testosterone being the main hormone contributing to muscle gain in men, women rely more on growth hormone for muscle growth. Growth hormone results are a little slower than those from testosterone but the positive benefits from growth hormone secretion when women lift moderate to heavy weights can’t be ignored. Here’s an excerpt from the article referenced above:
“”Since women rely on growth hormone to increase muscle and bone strength, the more growth hormone stimulated by a type of exercise, the better its outcome,” researchers said. The study had women weight training with different rep ranges for 24 weeks, complete with lots of blood tests. The heavier weight training protocols produced more biologically active growth hormone. Lead researcher William J. Kraemer noted: “Women need to have a heavy loading cycle in their resistance training routines.”
So, ladies, drop the resistance bands and hand weights every once in a while and lift some heavy stuff.
You might just have a little fun doing it and, in my opinion, it is pretty dang sexy when I see my wife lifting heavy!
- Women have many qualities that are superior to men (intelligence for one — my wife is way smarter than me), but, with that being said, Bone Density is not one of those qualities.
Women start out with lower bone density than men and between the ages of 20-80 it is typical to see density loss of 1/3 whereas in men, the loss is only 1/4. Past age ~30 you will not be adding any new bone mass, but your body will still regenerate bone cells.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, osteoporosis statistics show a greater burden for women in the following ways:
Strength training is a great way to increase bone density (until ~30) and maintaining bone density thereafter. Loading the body during strength training stresses our skeletal system and has what is called an osteogenic effect, meaning that it creates new bone.
You may not want bulky muscles, but, maintaining the bulk of your bones should be motivation enough to give strength training a go.
Try this method to blast the fat away with strength training rather than a boring 90 minute elliptical ride. Density strength training not only helps you lose the belly fat, but helps you build muscle and burn a metric ton of calories at the same time. LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio has its place, sure. But, the benefits of long lasting aerobic exercise for fat loss have long been overstated. Not to mention the fact that LISS cardio burns muscle while you’re burning fat too, with a density circuit you can cut the muscle loss and reach your goals quicker.
Give one of these density workouts a try:
Depending on fitness level complete 3-5 rounds, rest periods are <30sec after the final movement of your quad sets. Enjoy!
1a. Box Jump x5
1b. DB Front Squat x8
1c. DB RDL x8
1d. Long Lever Front Plank xMax
2a. DB Reverse Lunge x8/leg
2b. Barbell Hip Thrust x8
2c. Hollow Body Hold xMax
2d. Hip Switches x5/side
1a. Explosive MB Chest Pass x5 *skip to :50 in video
1b. DB Incline Bench Press x8
1c. DB Batwing Row x8
1d. Reverse Snow Angel x8
2a. Pullup/Chinup x8 *athlete choice
2b. Pushup xAMRAP
2c. Pallof Press x8/side
2d. TRX Y’s x8
I’m not going to preach to you about all the benefits of exercise. You know it’s beneficial, and hopefully after reading this article you feel a little better about lifting weights in general and lifting some heavy weight, too.
Plus, my wife says that heavy deadlifts can make her not want to punch me in the face when I’ve done something stupid. So — that’s nice.