Myth Busters – 3. Women should not lift weights as it makes them big and bulky

by Andy Buckle in Training

Women fearing that lifting weights will make them bigger and bulkier is a popular fitness myth that has been around for many years. Sadly, too many females believe this statement and as a result refrain from lifting weights when they go to the gym and end up sticking to the cross trainers and treadmills. Although cardiovascular fitness is vital for everyone there are some extremely important benefits of resistance training (weight training) that too many women miss out on due to this popular yet incorrect belief. 


Due to popular culture and a lot of marketing some of the most important benefits of weight training have been lost on most people. The vast majority of people have been taught to think that anyone who lifts weights will instantly put on muscle and look like a bodybuilder. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many reasons for everyone to lift weights it wouldn’t be possible to list them all on here!! Some of the most important benefits include:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced stress
  • Lower body fat
  • Stronger bones
  • Stronger muscles
  • Stronger connective tissue (ligaments and tendons)
  • Reduce risk of injury


It’s always important to remember that in terms of muscular structure, men and women are the same, therefore there is no such thing as a mans and a woman’s exercise. As a consequence, there are no exercises that should exclusively be done by either gender. The key difference between men and women completing weight training is mainly due to the hormones in our bodies. Possibly the biggest factor relating to this myth is down to the difference in testosterone levels. Testosterone is responsible for the increased muscle mass and strength we all see in well developed athletes. Understanding this, men have roughly 20 times the testosterone levels that females have and I’m sure every man reading this will agree that building muscle is not an easy feat to achieve. For the female body to develop increased muscle size enough to cause a bigger and bulkier look would take a lot of dedication, hard training, and correct nutrition. Building muscle for anyone is a long and slow process that takes time, a casual lifter won’t just put on pounds of muscle by accident. So women can rest easy knowing that casual weight training in the gym WILL NOT result in a bigger and bulkier body.


Now we can categorically state that weight training will not make women ‘big’ and ‘bulky’, we should look at some reasons why you SHOULD train with weights if you are a woman. 

Improved fat loss

Weight training will help to develop lean muscles (not big bulky ones!!) on the body which will boost your metabolism and in turn burn more calories, leading to greater losses in body fat.

Improve your mood and de-stress

Weight training causes a release of endorphins in the body (the feel good factor) which will help to improve your mood and reduce stress/anxiety.

Reduce risk of injury and help prevent osteoporosis

Weight training strengthens the muscles on our bodies as well as a lot of the connective tissue that surrounds our joints, which helps to reduce the risk of injury. It can also increase bone density which will help to prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Improve your posture

Weight training can help to strengthen muscles that may have become weakened over time and cause us to have bad posture. 

Improve your athletic performance

Improving your strength using weight training is the perfect way to help you develop more speed, agility, power and endurance. Primarily, meaning you can exercise at a much higher level.


It is safe to say that we can categorically state that weight training will NOT make all women big and bulky and therefore should not be avoided if you are a woman, this is most definitely a myth!! Women, just like all human beings, should include some weight training in their exercise regime as there are far too many benefits for it to be ignored. Next time you go to the gym, take some time to learn some basic techniques or ask a trainer to show you, grab some weights and take your training to the next level.