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Fitness myths: Why women won’t bulk up from weight training

Are you one of the many women skimping on strength training because you don’t want weights to turn you into the Incredible Hulk? We’ve got some good news for you: training with weights won’t bulk you up, but it will increase your muscle tone and help you burn fat!

Women’s physiology doesn’t allow for bulking up

Genetics and hormone levels do play a part in this, but the average woman doesn’t have the amounts of testosterone and human growth hormone needed to gain bulky muscles. Most women have 20-30% less testosterone than men , which means you will only have the capability to replace the muscle that you’ve lost naturally since turning 20 years of age.

At most, an increase of a couple of kilograms of lean muscle mass, above and beyond what your genetics determine, may occur in a very small percent of LUCKY women. Lucky because more muscle means a faster metabolism, faster fat burning and a major slow down of the aging process!

Don’t want to look like a bodybuilder?

Women training for bodybuilding competitions are on uber-strict diets that promote muscle growth and they often have to train a lot to gain those muscles. They usually take supplements and eat high protein diets to help them grow muscle and reduce bodyfat; this is what makes their muscles ‘pop’ out.

Your standard gym weight training workout is unlikely to give you the same results – instead you should get firm/toned lean muscle mass. Women are designed to have curves, not bulk!

If you are concerned about particular muscles on your body that have gone larger than you’d like in the past, keep your exercise reps for that part of your body high (12-15+) and the weights quite light. Remember that bodyweight training (such as press ups, squats and yoga) is also a form of strength training.

Why you should train with weights

There are so many reasons to do weight training that we can’t fit them all on this page. But a good start aside from improving your general health and fitness is that doing some kind of resistance based exercise will help you to lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight!

As your lean muscle mass increases, your resting metabolism becomes more efficient which means you’ll burn more calories throughout each day without having to do any extra work.

Strength training is important for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis – a disease causing bone degeneration and breakage which affects one in three women. Osteoporosis NZ says the most effective exercise to maintain bone density is ‘weight-bearing’ exercise as it makes bones stronger. If the impact level is too low, bones will not become stronger and may lose mass.

Heavy strength training has been shown to slow down bone degeneration and replace bone mineral density – aiding in reducing the onset of osteoporosis.

Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Ambro

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