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Does Lifting Weights Make Women Bulky?

by Alexandra Parren

Does Lifting Weights Make Women Bulky?

Lifting Weights Will Make Me Bulky

Thankfully, this is a complete myth. Lifting weights will not make you bulky. If it did, every man would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger! Lifting for women is a lot simpler than you may think. Let's explore why so many people believe this myth, and why it is just a myth. 

Heavy weight training leads to weight loss

Weight training speeds up your metabolism, as the more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn. Lifting heavy weights also raises your heart rate which also burns calories! So long as you are not overeating, you will not get bulky, and instead you'll actually lose weight!

Women don’t have enough testosterone

Testosterone is key when building muscle as well as a calorie surplus. Ask any bodybuilder, big muscles are not easy to come by, they're constantly eating to build their bulky muscles. Women’s genetics mean even if they are lifting heavy, their low levels of testosterone will sculpt and define their muscles without them ending up huge.

Heavy lifting increases your BMR

Your BMR is your Base Metabolic Rate and is the number of calories your body burns in a state of complete rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest when you're doing absolutely nothing! A pound of muscle burns around 6 extra calories per day than a pound of fat. Muscle is actually far more compact than fat; so the more muscle you build, added with the fat you lose from the extra calorie burn, the smaller you’ll actually become. The more lean muscle tissue you acquire, the more calories you’ll burn 24/7.

Reasons you may feel bulky after lifting weights:


As your hormones fluctuate throughout the month, your weight can change drastically. 8/10 women suffer from bloating before and during their period. Women actually gain pounds of water during this time due to the ability of oestrogen to cause fluid to be retained, which could be why you feel ‘bulkier’.

Fluid Retention

If you're new to weight training, when you first start training some women may experience weight gain, this unsurprisingly puts them off. The reason you may gain some extra weight when you first start weight lifting is that the muscles swell and retain more water as they repair. Once your body becomes accustomed to weight training this will become less of a drastic increase as your body recovers and settles into your routine. 

Muscle weighs more than fat

For most women, this is a tough psychological battle as we’re taught the less you weigh, the better. Muscle actually weighs more than fat, so you may look smaller and leaner and yet be gaining weight on the scales. This is why it’s useful to take body fat measurements, or if you don’t have the equipment for that, a simple set of before and after pictures will help you keep your mind on track if your weight is going up. Your weight may change but so will your body composition.

Benefits of weights for women:

  1. It boosts your metabolism and raises your BMR so that you are burning more calories 24/7.
  2. Your chances of getting osteoporosis are decreased by increasing bone density.
  3. It is the most effective anti-aging activity to keep your body strong, fit and active.
  4. Weight training is empowering and will increase your confidence. Becoming strong can help you feel more confident in other areas of your life and help you to succeed not just in the gym.
  5. Weight training can enhance your curves, shaping your body with increased muscle tissue.
  6. Heavy lifting increases energy levels and mood through the release of brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression.
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