Females and weight training – myth busted

It’s a common myth amongst females that weight training will result in big, bulky, ‘manly’ muscles… well guess what…. IT WON’T!!!!!
females and weight training

Most females do not realise that weight training is designed specifically to increase muscular strength through increased workload demands. Increasing muscular strength through the use of heavier weights can be very beneficial for both men and women, not only to increase muscle tone, but especially for fat loss and body composition goals.

In my opinion, the term ‘toning up’ is a common phrase I hear regularly when females want to look their best and have a tighter, firmer body. On countless occasions I’ve had females come to me saying they want to ‘get in shape’ and ‘tone up’ BUT I don’t want to get ‘big and bulky’. The term ‘tone’ is simply a pretty word that is used instead of the term ‘building muscle’. When really ‘toning up’ is actually an increase in muscle size and strength, while reducing fat at the same time.

So let’s look at the science behind WHY…

Males and females produce different hormones – males produce androgens (testosterone) and females produce estrogens. In the simplest explanation possible, androgens assist in promoting protein synthesis and growth of muscle tissue. Whilst male and females produce both of these hormones in the body, males obviously produce a lot more androgens than females (Martini & Nath, 2009. p, 949).

Building muscle (for both males and females) is not an easy goal to reach. It takes time, consistency and hard work. A male is lucky to gain around 2-3kg of LEAN muscle mass in one year if he is training hard and eating right. So as a female this process is even harder. We should not be scared of getting ‘too big’ or ‘bulky’ from resistance training. Females simply do not produce enough testosterone to build muscle at the same rate as a male.

A common misconception – women believe they get bulky from training weights or think they grow muscle ‘too fast’.

Yes, weight training requires you to move more therefore your body requires more energy. Energy comes from the foods we eat, so if you require more energy then your need for food will increase. THE HARSH REALITY – where most females go wrong is they begin to eat the WRONG types of foods because they believe they are training harder and their bodies are screaming for nutrients to recover.

We all know that you can’t out train a bad diet… so of course you are going to look (or give the illusion) that you ‘look bigger’ if you are weight training and consuming too much of the wrong foods!

Author: Emillie-Jean Cole [Vast Fitness Academy: Head Trainer and Assessor]


Martini, F. H. and Nath, J. L. (2009). Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology: Eighth edition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education Inc.

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