A very common thing for women to say before starting a weight training program is: I just want to ‘tone’. I don’t want to get all bulky. That fact of the matter is, that will not happen, trust me. Let’s talk about why it won’t happen to you.
Yep, that all too familiar hormone that has ruined many men. Not only is it involved in sexual desire, but it the main reason that when men lift weights, some of them can get big and bulky. Consider this, the testosterone of the average man is anywhere from 10-20 times as high as that of a woman. Not only do women not have the testosterone necessary to gain muscle as men do, but they don’t have to worry about facial hair too, lol. So women, rest assured that you will not get big and bulky from lifting weights.
I already know what is coming. You may have heard or seen women that lift weights, that body build that are absolutely enormous. Ya I know, I have too. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, muscle building drugs such as testosterone and steroids are extremely common in bodybuilding. They are common with men bodybuilders, and common with women bodybuilders. I’m not here to argue the right or wrong of it (though by my size you should be able to see that I clearly don’t use any muscle building drug). I’m just pointing out the fact that it is very common, and that women will not get big or bulky by lifting weights. In addition to additional muscle that women body builders gain when they use testosterone, it is quite common to become hairier and to have your voice deepen, after all the testosterone is what causes that in us men.
Trust me, if it was so easy to get big and bulky, then I sure as heck wouldn’t be 155lbs! I’d have about 20 more lbs. on my frame.
Okay, so how should you train? Workout videos have largely been geared towards women for 20+ years and all of them advocate aerobics, or yoga, or Pilates, or light weights. None to my knowledge that are targeted at women have advocated heavy weights. Part of that is that not too many people have heavy weights in their home. But the other part of it goes along the lines of more DVD’s will sell if a product seems desirable, seems easy, and is what is expected.
There is no reason that women should weight train any different than men. So, put away those pink dumbbells, get off the abductor machine, and come on over into the free weight area.
It has been said that if you want to gain strength you lift in the 2-6 rep range, if you want to gain muscle size (hypertrophy), then you lift in the 6-10/12 rep range, and if you are training for endurance you lift in the 12+ rep range.
I’m not a huge believer in that, but I will mix it up and lift in the 2-4 rep range at times and the 6-10 rep range at other times.
A good general rule of thumb is to keep your rep ranges in the 4-8 range.
Okay, but what exercises should you do? The same type of exercises that men will do. Some of the best ones are squats, barbell bench press, shoulder press, barbell row, pull-ups, plank, etc. Shoot for having the majority of your exercises that are compound exercises like this, and the minority of exercises being isolation exercises like the barbell curl or tricep extension. Not only will you build more muscles with compound exercises, but you will burn more fat because you will be using more calories.
Need some proof of this? Check out Christine Beauchamp. She recently competed in a powerlifting contest and squatted 270lbs at a bodyweight of 129. Look at her before and after picture. Oh, and the pictures I used for this article? They are both of Christine. Do you still think lifting heavy weights will make you bulky?
P.S. You can follow Christine on Facebook where she has a very active fan page.