Women vs weights – the fear of becoming the female Arnold Schwarzanegger

Ok ok, so now that I have your attention, this short blog peice is a little insight into the benefits of incorporating resistance and weight training in the gym.

The gym and bodybuilding really took off in the 1980s with the likes of Arnold Schwarzanneger and Lou Ferrigno (the hulk) leading the charge. Both eventually going on to become huge mainstream movie stars, since that time there has long been a stigma attached to lifting weights. The presumption that if I spend an hour in the weight room, I will become the incredible hulk. Today however, many of the guys you see in the gym have realised that this is absolutely not the case, and us mere mortals will never ever achieve that type of physique, without correct “supplementation” and sheer dedication at least anyway.

Unfortunately however the myth is still absolutely alive and well among our female counterpart in the gyms!

Here are some of the most common phrases I here when training female clients.

“hmmm I’m looking to you know, just tone up a little bit”

” Those weights look very heavy, are you sure it wont make me bigger”

” I dont really want to gain any muscle”

“Will this not make my legs really big”

I’m sure many of you reading have been guilty of at least one of these phrases or something similar!!

I also get alot of area pointing!  Whether it’s to the inner thighs, the stomach, the ribs, the back of the arms or “bingo wings” “I just want to work this area please”

Again I am writing on this subject, not to be condescending to any female gym goers, but to actually help and bannish the myth that lifting weights will make you masculine or overly muscular.

Before i get into the many benefits of lifting weights in the gym, I want to talk about an experience I had a few years ago.

A lady in a commercial gym I worked in was starting her weight loss journey. Infact before she talked to me she had been doing it by herself for about two months. Whilst cleaning the gym I saw her pacing away on the treadmil. 5 minutes later, she was on the bike, and by the time i was finished cleaning, she was sweating it out on the eliptical!

Firstly let me say, she had definitely lost weight from the time she started!!

Anyway I decided to approach her.  After first complementing her on her weight loss i asked what style of program she was following.

“oh ten minutes of that, 15 minutes here, probably finish with 20 minutes on that machine”

I decided to dig slightly deeper, and invited her into the office for a fitness related chat. I began asking about her weight, why she started etc and well really, what she wanted from her training.

I also asked a few deeper questions, like how her “bikini” body has changed since she started training.

“Well I’ve lost weight….” She said

I kind of knew from the way she said it, that weight was all she had lost and she really hadnt gained much from her hours in the gym.

“I’ve gotten a little smaller but i dont look that much different, also my arms, legs and tummy are still very flabby”

I pretty much knew before I had asked her those questions that I would be getting a similar answer.  She had been sweating and running for almost two months. In clothes, she had become a slighlty smaller version of her previous self.  But when it was time to put on a swim suit, and really see the results of her gruelling she hadnt really changed much at all.

Some of you reading may be asking but why?   She has clearly been putting in the work, why wasnt her body changing when it really came down to what mattered??

Simply put, she had fallen into the classic “cardio bunny” trap.  The thought that if I run for hours I will look absolutely great.

For most of the population it just isn’t the case, if you don’t build up some muscle, what could you possibly be looking to reveal from your hours of sweating!!

On top of this, your body is far smarter than you give it credit for.  It will begin to go into fight mode and simply plateau.  You will find your weight will simply stop dropping.  And then what!

Another hour of cardio?

Skip beakfast?

No dinner after 6pm?

Please dont fall into this trap!

Lets finally get into some benefits of adding weight training into your gym routine!!


Some benefits to bringing weight training into your gym routine.

1. Increase in fat burning capabilities when combining weights with cardio

As stated above a routine that relies solely on cardio for fat-loss will eventually lead to stagnation, as your metabolic rate will continue to drop as your body adapts to the demand you put on it.

In fact a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that concurrent training (combining weight and endurance training) greatly enhanced the metabolic effects of each mode of training on their own.


2. Increases Calorie Expenditure

As we now know weight loss is nearly as simple as burning more calories than we take in. The simple addition of weight training has been proven across many many studies to increase the bodies metabolism throughout the day, thus as a result burning more calories!

Allowing for either more food to be eaten, or allow you to reach your optimum weight far quicker, goal dependning!



3. Shapes Your Curves

Again I touched on this above.  The thought that doing endless hours of cardio will give you that “toned” look, it is simply not the case, infact it will become counter productive, you will hold onto body fat and lower your metabolism. Thus affecting your ability to burn calories. Building up a solid base of muscle, will help you achieve a fantastic curved, shapely and calorie burning body.


4. More Energy Throughout The Day

Weight training actually greatly improves your psychological well-being and enhances your sense of vitality throughout your daily life. It’s not uncommon to feel completely wiped out and lifeless after spending hours on the treadmill; lifting, on the other hand actually boosts “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. In fact, studies show that the heavy weight exercise protocols appear to greatly increase plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn modulates mood in a positive manner.



5. Bone Health

Osteoporosis and osteopenia are becoming more and more common in females (both young and old), which can likely be attributed to physical inactivity and lack of load-bearing exercises. Weight-bearing exercise in particular provides mechanical stimuli or “loading” .  Important for both the maintenance and improvement of bone health, whereas physical inactivity has been implicated in loss of bone density. In fact, low bone mass is a major risk factor for fractures in females, and one of the most effective ways to reverse degeneration of bones is to consistently train with weights; studies suggest it is quite a bit more effective than aerobic exercise as well.


If you have got lost in all the above let me give you a quick summary.

Lifting weights for women will give you

  • more calories burnt throughout the day
  • increase in bone health and mental health
  • increase in energy levels
  • increased fat loss
  • Bring out the “curves”
  • Aid sleep


On top of the above, when women lift weights its pretty badass, there is nothing betther than seeing a woman who is not afraid to be percieved to be both mentally and physically strong!

Remember ladies weights will not make you “bulk up” they will do quite the opposite!

If you are still not convinced!

Please feel free across social media to search the hash tag


Look out for some impressive transformations!!


Enjoy the fitness journey ahead




















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