Originally Published: September 5th, 2013; Updated: February 15th, 2020
Short Answer: No! As women we don’t have enough testosterone to get the bulky muscle that men typically have.
In Case You Were Curious…This article was originally a part of my health and fitness website.
The article still holds true to what I believe today and the editing has been minimal (formatting, typos, et al.)
Let’s start with what lifting weights is – it’s a form of resistance training that requires your muscles to do work to lift the load (the weights). Because it’s an activity that’s mostly associated with guys, there’s this idea that you’ll manly if you lift weights.
So where does the idea of looking manly come from?
The idea that weight training will make you look bulky might have come from what happens when you add resistance training to your exercise program. If you lift loads that are heavier than what your muscles are used to, you’ll gain more muscle.
The muscle gain comes from the repair of muscle tissue that breaks down when you put it under stress by lifting these weights. This repair means that you’re increasing the strength of the muscle tissue in your body.
Normally this repair will lead to an increase in size, but women don’t make enough testosterone for this to translate into a big size change. Instead, it’ll help you get leaner than you would be if you focused exclusively on cardio.
But what about those women in the fitness magazines?
If you’re thinking of the women in bodybuilding magazines, they look like that because they choose to, i.e., with the use of supplements, specially-designed exercise regimens, and super specific diets designed just for that look. Bottom line, the everyday woman lifting weights to stay healthy, look great, and lose weight won’t look like the women on the cover of muscle mags.
You don’t need to worry about looking manly when you lift weights. You don’t need to be afraid of activity that will help accentuate the best parts of your unique body. The only person you’ll look like is your natural self with your natural curves.
Why you do want to lift weights/resistant train to build muscle
So now that we’ve established that lifting weights won’t make you look manly, let’s look at some reasons why lifting weights or resistance training, in general, are an essential part of your training program:
- If you don’t exercise in a way that at least retains muscle, you’ll lose it as you get older. And this will have a negative impact on your quality of life because you won’t be as strong as you were before to do the things that you love to do
- At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat, and this translates to more weight loss over time
- Muscle takes up less space than fat, and this is how it helps reveal your natural curves in your favorite clothes
- Lifting weights or resistance training will help you build confidence as you get to see what your body is capable of first hand. You get into doing complex movements that are so much more than putting one leg in front of the other on a treadmill or elliptical machine
Here’s how you can get started
You don’t have to start hitting the gym and pumping heavy iron to do resistance training. In fact, you can start with the resistance of your own body.
Body weight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups will help you start resistance training in the comfort of your home. As you get more comfortable, you can decide to add more complex bodyweight exercises or join a gym where you can explore different types of equipment to level up your results.