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The intense fear of becoming big muscle women with shoulders too big and too masculine stop millions of women all over North America from picking up weights. A scary myth or a scientific truth?
Do you avoid the weights section at your local gym? All those heavy, dirty looking barbells, dumbbells and plates are often a little intimidating, especially with all those sweaty, muscly guys hunkering around with them. Truth be told, there are rarely any women in that section of any gym across the country.


Women have a terrible fear of appearing too masculine, growing out of control muscles that they won't even notice until it is too late... Ladies? Does this sound familiar? Its time to cut to the chase and get it right. We'll say it once again, loud and proud:

Lifting weights does not make you big, masculine, or a muscly-beast!

Hearing this line from female clients is the most common and most difficult misconception to right for personal trainers. Fitness experts who have been around for a while will roll their eyes every time a female client refuses to pick up a dumbbell larger than 5lbs. Unfortunately for society, a myth has been spread and perpetuated by images of female body building.

Lifting weights versus bodybuilding

Lifting weights, or weight training, as it is often called, is far from the sport of bodybuilding. While bodybuilding is an extreme sport designed for looks, weight training offers so much more to people at every age, as a means of exercising.

Essentially, weight training is a tool. It is used as an instrument to achieve various ends. Weight loss, muscle toning, fat burning, improving strength, balance, power, definition, and much more are all ends to which weight training can be used for.

Bodybuilding is a sport. The objective is to make large muscles as defined as possible. Bodybuilding may also be a goal which weight training is used as a tool to achieve. However, bodybuilding is an extreme sport, and requires more than just a few reps and sets of curls and presses. At the elite level, all bodybuilders, men and women, use performance enhancing substances, including steroids, and growth hormones. This causes the body to grow in unnatural ways, creating the desired look. Don't believe it? Look up natural bodybuilding and you'll find out what a naturally built body looks like- with all the training and extreme diet, but without steroids and hormone therapy.

Understanding all of the ways lifting weights can be used helps to create a better picture of how you can use them to reach your unique goals.

The technical impossibility of manly muscles

It is technically impossible to grow bodybuilding sized muscles through simple weight training at your local gym. Bodybuilding is a science, a specific number of training sets, reps, and training days, combined with extreme dietary restrictions and cycles is required. In reality, lifting a heavy weight will make you stronger.
Stronger does not mean bigger!

Weight training does make you stronger. This is the only guarantee you can look forward to when you grab a dumbbell and start working it. Here is how it works:

  • The muscle is given a task (pick up heavy object).
  • The muscle performs task as required, only contracting to use as much force as is necessary.
  • If the task requires more than the muscle is capable of, it begins to adapt and change form to be better
  • prepared for the next time. The muscle reinforces and rebuilds fibers to be able to contract at a greater force.
However, it is important to note that being stronger does not mean bigger. Larger muscles are not always stronger, and small muscles are not weak ones. Just take a look at womens weightlifting; women who compete in the 118lb weight-class have no problem lifting nearly twice their body weight overhead. These womens legs and arms are average size but pack a big punch!

Stronger muscles are always more firm and toned. Strong muscles are also massive energy-consumers; they are riddled with mitochondria, continuously supplying resting and working muscles with the energy required just to maintain their form. This means a great consumption of calories, even at rest.

Reasons why you should lift weights

  • Weight training helps to create stronger muscles.
  • Weight training can improve balance and coordination.
  • Weight training increases metabolism, helping to burn more energy, faster through the digestive tract, rather than storing it as fat.
  • Weight training helps to burn fat for energy while maintaining muscle strength and mass.
  • Weight training stops muscle atrophy and loss of bone density in the elderly.
  • Weight training increases sex drive and increases endurance and pleasure.
  • Weight training decreases blood pressure, and the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Weight training increases endorphins, and helps to improve self-confidence in boys and girls.
  • Weight training decreases the risk of developing diabetes, and helps naturally control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
  • Weight training helps improve sleep quality and decreases insomnia.

Ladies, put your worries aside and be assured. You will not grow into a muscle beast with a little weight training. Your weight training should take up at least half of your workouts in a week, on average. Mixing cardiovascular training with weight training is perfectly acceptable, and should be done.

It is important to always start with a plan created just for you, based on what you'd like to achieve with your body and your health. Adding weights to your program will take you to the next level faster than you thought possible!
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