Why Women Should Lift Weights

Written by Andy @ ARBodyworks, June 2012.

From experience, talking to women in the gym brings about a number of common themes. This one is the most confusing

“When I workout, I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder”

I see time and time again, women emerge from the changing rooms, wander  aimlessly over to the juice bar, fill up a water bottle and head to the cardio zone for a monotonous 20 – 40 minute hell, which they wholly believe will be enough to extract the choc au pain from their hips that they had for breakfast.  In addition, they then head to the mats and work out their hip flexors for a couple of sets thinking that poorly executed crunches will make their abs just pop up one day out of the mire of their stubborn  tummy bulge.

6 months later and the SAME women doing the SAME workouts day in day out weigh and look the SAME and decide something needs to change.

When I challenge these women on the subject of resistance training, many of them either don’t know how to train any differently or don’t want to because they believe they will end up looking like Jodie Marsh if they pick up weights any heavier than 2 KG. (I must add at this point I think the transformation Ms Marsh has achieved is remarkable, however not to my taste, and in no way was that last comment meant derogatorily)

The truth begins to become apparent.

I find the best way to try and change this thinking is to make women aware of the differences between themselves and the guys they see in the free weights room.

  1. The reason men grow is testosterone and the reason women don’t is a lack of testosterone. Sorry ladies you just don’t have the testicles for it!
  2. Women just don’t eat enough to get big!
  3. Getting out of your comfort zone, Men can do it better!

Expanding on number 1:

Men create testosterone in their testes and it is the principle sex hormone and incidentally an anabolic steroid.  Secondary effects include increased muscle mass and the growth of body hair! (Ladies, if either of those are appealing go right ahead and supplement). Testosterone also promotes aggression which helps with number 3. Women also produce testosterone but at such low levels that muscle growth is much more difficult.

Expanding on number 2.

Most women simply do not consume enough calories on a daily basis to grow. In fact most women do not even consume enough calories to maintain their weight as it is. Most people are under misconceptions that they will get big from weightlifting without eating any more than they currently do. It is very hard to put on weight!!! The internet is full of formulas and numbers for the amount of calories needed to get big, but really could you see a normal size women chowing down on 3000 or more calories a day mostly from protein? That’s 6 x 500 calorie meals!!! Most men looking to gain muscle would struggle with that! How many women do you know that would even consider INCREASING their calorie intake when they are trying to lose weight? The simple answer is very few.

Expanding on number 3.

A close friend of mine and mentor told me once that when assessing a clients RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) women over exaggerate and men under exaggerate. Meaning a woman will tell you that she is working at a level of 8/10 (Exertion wise) when in fact she is closer to 6-7 and men will say 6/10 when in fact it will be closer to 8. Being able to push past your comfort zone and continue to train is what good athletes do and building muscle is very hard to do if you don’t go further and harder than you ever thought you could. Men are much better at this, they push and push, sometimes to injury and it is this drive that makes it easier for men to build muscle. Another point to tie in at this juncture is aggression, created partly by levels of testosterone.  This aggression can be used to push past comfort zones and carry on. It stands to reason therefore, that it would be unlikely for women however determined to be as aggressive as their male counterparts.

So physiologically you won’t become Jodie Marsh unless you force feed yourself, supplement to the eyeballs and train so hard that you can barely move. So why should you lift weights?


In my opinion the best way to lose weight, get abs, tone up, lose your bingo wings etc. Is to increase the rate at which your body burns calories, lifting heavier does this by increasing your metabolic rate. The trauma to the muscles caused by lifting heavier weights enables you to burn calories even while sitting in the sauna after your workout and beyond. All body fat consists of is extra calories which you’ve eaten that your body has stored. 

So doesn’t doing something that makes you burn more calories, more quickly sound appealing to ladies that are trying to lose weight????

Not only will lifting weights help you burn more calories it will also help to define the muscles underneath. When you lift a heavy weight the muscle fibres involved tear very slightly each time (It’s why you feel like crap for a day or two after a HEAVY weights workout). Now when those fibres repair they repair stronger and slightly bigger, so the muscles look better. You won’t get big as I’ve explained; you will look more toned and feminine!

Thanks Andy!

Your friends at “Socially Fit”

  1. A says:

    Great post 🙂 I look forward to reading more of them.

  2. Julianna says:

    I LOVE the soul of this blog! I love how you push (encourage forward expansion!), but not too hard. Thanks for sharing another marvelous post!

  3. Good article, I posted something similar that I found on our site as well. Makes me sad that some women forgo weight training because of myths…

    • I’ve always worked out with weights, in fact, I love training with guys. I enjoy their intensity. It may have something to do with the fact that I grew up with four brothers. Being the youngest, I had a lot to put up with… I had to be tough, and I always wanted them to be proud of me.

      How’s that for motivation!

      Thanks for commenting, we hope to see you again!

  4. Hi Peter! Did you start riding your bike?

  5. Melanie says:

    Love this post and I believe wholeheartedly in it! Thanks for the motivation and great tips!

  6. Great post!! love it! I hate when women think they’re going to get huge!!!

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