"Not lifting weights because you are afraid of looking like a bodybuilder is like not driving your car because you fear becoming a NASCAR driver."
I've rarely encountered a female personal training client who wasn't scared of getting too muscular. While I understand these fears come from the pictures of female bodybuilders and probably male bodybuilders as well, these fears really are unwarranted.
When you lift weights, you will put on some muscle. It's true! It's also a very good thing. Muscle drives our metabolism, so the more we have, the faster our metabolism. This means more fat loss while sitting on the couch. More muscle means more strength, thus increased ability to live life to the fullest.
I understand most women don't want to look like a man, especially a well-built man like the IFBB professional bodybuilders.
The above video is of a pro bodybuilding competition. These women train specifically for the purpose of building maximum muscle and getting as lean as humanly possible... at all costs. This is how they look in peak condition for competition. For 99.9 percent of people to achieve such a level of muscular development, male or female, they would need to have a lot of chemical help. It is well-known that pro bodybuilders use synthetic human growth hormone, insulin, thyroid hormone, diuretics and testosterone, just to name a few. Many elite level bodybuilders are injecting oil and fat into the muscle to make it look bigger; it's ridiculous, and all this costs pros thousands of dollars each year.
On top of all the chemical help, it takes years and years of hard work and commitment to look like a pro bodybuilder. This is not something that is accidentally going to happen to you because you felt fatigue in your muscle while doing resistance exercises.
We need testosterone to build muscle. Most women will only be able to build a small amount of muscle even when training specifically for bodybuilding due to their incredibly low testosterone (this is why it is essential to use synthetic hormones to compete in the higher levels of bodybuilding). A healthy male should have about double the testosterone of a healthy female, and even he may struggle to put on a decent amount of muscle.
One of the biggest mistakes a woman can make while training to get in shape is to fear building too much muscle. If you fear an outcome that is not going to happen, you will never commit fully to training, and you'll avoid pushing yourself in the gym. This can only result in sub-optimal results. It's important to mention that muscle gains will not turn to fat, ever. If someone gets fat it's not because of the muscle they once had. It's either the lack of exercise or excess of food.
We seem to have a lot of issues regarding body image. We are constantly shown images of super skinny models that are supposedly the ultimate desire. Many of these women struggle to gain weight due to their crazy metabolisms. There is the other side to that, with models starving themselves to look the part. Either way, you shouldn't be striving to look wafer thin at the expense of your health. Love and accept your body today, then we can start working on getting into the best shape our genetics will allow.
In my opinion, and probably the opinion of most of the athletic community is, women look sexy with muscle. The guys who think they look "manly" probably have never lifted a dumbbell or done a chin-up in their entire lives. If you think skinny, weak and dependent is sexy, you may need a psychiatric evaluation. There needs to be a paradigm shift, and its happening.
More and more women are lifting weights and looking amazing. They are strong, athletic and sexy. They don't fear too much muscle, they just eat and train smart. Sadly, there are still personal trainers who promote the fear. Gems such as "No woman should lift more than 3 pounds" to avoid bulking up can and should be left in 1933. A baby's weight well exceeds 3 pounds, and we certainly don't have an epidemic of new mothers getting too buff from carrying junior around all day.
Often the quest to look skinny and weak comes with a starvation diet attached. Cutting back your calories too much for too long can land you in trouble. You might get your skinny body, but at a cost. That cost may be low libido, lethargy, depression, anxiety, and gallstone formation. Not only that, when you do finally start eating enough (and you will eventually) you will gain back the fat you lost and probably some extra due to the muscle wasting/metabolism slowing effects of your starvation diet.
When you build muscle, you increase bone density and improve self-esteem and self confidence. Your metabolism increases, so you burn fat. There are improvements to blood pressure and you reduce risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Build some muscle and you'll look even sexier. You will be stronger and able to get the job done. You can open jars, change tires and move the fridge without needing to ask for help.
Many women look at Madonna's arms and think she is too muscular. I think that is crazy talk. Madonna has a very strong, fit looking body that can be attributed to years of dancing, yoga and strength training.
The video above is Madonna at 54 years old. By the looks of things, she trains smart.
What's the take home message for the ladies?
• You won't build muscle easily, so don't fear it.
• Muscle looks sexy on women, so try your best to build some.
• Muscle increases metabolism and NEVER turns to fat.
• Muscle is healthy and you will lose it unless you use it.
What's the take home message for men?
• Women are sexy with muscle, get used to it.
• Skinny and weak is not sexy, strong is. To think otherwise is bordering on mental illness.
Say "no" to being hungry, weak and depressed and start lifting.