Should women lift weights?

A woman enters a weight room and sees manly sweat, big muscles and protruding veins. Not exactly the look she wants to see in the mirror. Culturally, this creates the idea that lifting weights is only for men looking to build muscle, but is this true?

The primary concern with females and lifting is the idea that they will look similar to their male counterparts. What they’re looking for is a “slim and toned” look.

First, women do not posses the hardware to build muscle like men. Hormonally, women are built to carry more fat and less muscle. Assuming the woman isn’t on any anabolic drugs, she will not obtain a “bulky look” from lifting weights. If anything, a bulky physique in a woman is result of fat tissue, primarily from overeating.

Want proof? Look at Beyonce, Jessica Biel and Jennifer Anniston. Even Scarlett Johansson once said in an interview “I’m not a fan of cardio, I like lifting weights. To be honest, I work out like a guy.” Few would call these women bulky.

Since you probably can’t access or afford the Hollywood trainers here are some guidelines to follow.

1. Perform lifting and cardio in a 1:1 ratio. If you’re working out 4 times a week, begin by doing 30 minutes of lifting followed by 30 minutes of cardio. I always suggest doing lifting first, as you’ll be fresh to lift more weight.

2. Pick the best exercises. Ditch the boso ball and dumbbell kickbacks. If you have limited time in the gym, you need to be performing squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, push-ups, overhead presses, pull-ups and planks. These exercises stimulate the most muscles, especially the ones you want, such as the glutes and abs.

3. Don’t be afraid to go heavy. While women don’t need to squat 400 pounds to have nice legs, they do need to practice progressive overload. Each time you do an exercise, your goal should be to do more reps or more weight. I’ve trained multiple women who can squat 135, deadlift 185 and hip thrust 185. Repping the purple dumbbells will do little to change your physique. Stick in the 6-12 rep range for the aforementioned exercises.

In the end, there is no need for women to fear the weight room Cardio is great for fat loss, but it cannot shape the body like resistance training. If you want firmer glutes, you need to hip thrust. If you want legs like Carrie Underwood, you need to squat. Lifting doesn’t make women bulky, lifting makes women sexy.