Contrary to popular belief, women do not get bulky from lifting heavy weights.
From a physiological perspective: women simply don’t have the levels of testosterone required to build serious muscle and make them look masculine, through training alone.
You only have to look at the thousands of female clients at Ultimate Performance who have used weight training to shape lean and toned figures to see this.
The main contributor to increasing muscle mass is circulating levels of testosterone. Testosterone is a steroid hormone and on average, women have testosterone levels that are around one-fifteenth of those of men; this simply wouldn’t be enough to gain muscle at any significant rate!
Newbie trainees will often experience rapid gains due to the novelty of the stimulus. However, over time, this effect decreases. When you start, for the 20% effort you put in, you may see an 80% return. As you become more trained, this becomes more like 20% returns for 80% effort, so don’t expect this to last forever.
A common reason women feel like they become ‘bulky’ when they start lifting weights is that they fail to change their diet or other activity.
Of course, if you have a base level of body fat and you increase your muscle mass, this effectively pushes the fat further outwards, creating the appearance of being ‘bulkier’. But, if you combine resistance training with a calorie deficit, which we can do through nutritional changes and increasing daily activity levels, you will become smaller.
Remember also that rates of fat loss and muscle gain are very different. For the average female client in a fat loss phase, we look for a weekly drop of around 0.5-1% of their total body weight.
However, when muscle gain is the goal, women struggle to achieve even a 0.25% total body weight increase of pure muscle per month. And that’s if you are ticking all the boxes – good nutrition, effective stress management, quality sleep, and training intensely. Most women sadly just do not train to the level of intensity required to achieve this.
This shows us that body recomposition is possible, but it’s unlikely that you’d be able to achieve this without weight loss. Therefore, resistance training is a fantastic tool to help you retain lean body mass during a diet, which will give you the leaner, ‘toned’ look that many women desire.
Nicole, a previous U.P. client, had never lifted weights before. Concerned it would make her look too muscular, she had always avoided this kind of exercise.
However, in just 15 weeks, Nicole was able to achieve the lean, lithe physique she had always wanted, while improving her strength.
To find out more about Nicole’s story, click here.