Ladies, don’t fear the weights! As a female trainer, I have the BEST tips on how any woman can get strong but not bulky.
Why ALL women should strength train
Strength training is a fundamental element to fitness. It is not just for those that want to have big muscles or be able to lift a lot of weight. Strength training is really something that everyone should incorporate into their routine, especially women.
Strength training of course helps you get stronger…duh. But women should be looking to maintain and improve their strength, especially before and after pregnancy. Now I don’t mean that your goal should be to lift 400 pounds. But strength training supports your joint mobility, posture, balance, body composition, and bone density. Apsects of health that are affected by having babies. And not only are these important around the pre- and postnatal phases of motherhood, but after too!
Babies need carried all the time. Toddlers are constantly needing to be picked up, moved around, and chased after. Kids need to be put into carseats. They need a teammate to practice their sports with. Chores need done like lifting the laundry basket, moving the furniture to clean, and grocery shopping. Yard work needs done like mowing, pulling weeds, mulching the flower beds. Drive ways need shoveled. There are so many things that we do that require strength. Even if it is not a lot, the daily tasks can be easier if you have a little strength to put behind it.
Whether you are a mom or not, all women can benefit from the boost in self confidence they get when they feel strong. The empowerment you feel after picking up those weights you that weren’t able to before. From doing your first deadlift or chin up or push up. That is why I always encourage women to strength train. Because it really makes you feel good.
Why women can get strong and not worry about getting bulky
Regardless of your strength goals, the reason for hesistation towards weight lifting tends to be the same. Many women fear that if they lift weights, they will grow a lot of muscle mass. They have been told or think that if they strength train then they will look “like a bodybuilder.”
But as a woman who has lifted A LOT of weights, lifted often, and for a long time, I can tell you it is very, very hard. Yes, some women (like myself) tend to put muscle on easier or faster than others. But there is quite a bit of factors that go into muscle growth. And this is where I can tell you as a trainer, that unless you are trying to put on muscle mass, you won’t get bulky. Probably not even much bigger unless you hire a coach or do a lot of research and planning to do so.
To put on size, whether it is muscle or fat, you need to consume a surplus of calories. Putting on muscle mass is hard. You need to program your workouts with specific parameters. These include, reps, sets, intensity, frequency, rest intervals, and even time under tension. These are lot of things to “accidently” get right and result in a bulky physique. And to give you my honest opinion as an athlete, this type of goal can be pretty grueling for women. You’re fighting biology. I would consider myself as a woman who is gifted in strength and muscle. But it took A LOT of focus,work, abd consistency for me to gain the muscle mass I have. Not to mention time. So if you have had that concern, you can let it go and pick up the weights! As a woman, you can easily get strong and not bulky.
How a woman can train to get strong and not bulky
Any way that you want! But as a woman, my favorite way to strength train without gaining size is with muscular endurance conditioning. So here is where we can get into the nitty gritty of those parameters I spoke about earlier.
Muscular endurance is going to be on the low end of the intensity spectrum. That means typically a lower to moderate weight. Something that allows a high volume (a lot of total reps, think sets of 20+). And usually shorter rest breaks.
As suggested by the name, the cardio-esque aspect of these kinds of strength workouts really boost heart rate and circulation. So you are in for a higher calorie burning workout. A strength workout with a cardio affect. Which also makes them great for days you aren’t up for jumping around or pure cardio-style workouts. And these kinds of workouts don’t provide the type of stimulation the body needs to grow larger amounts of muscle mass. Of course any strength training will cause some muscle growth, but this will help to get that lean and toned look.
Do you have to lift weights to strength train?
No! Your body doesn’t know the difference between a weight, a rock, a band, or even another person’s resistance. All it know is resistance. So any kind of equipment or even bodyweight exercises that utilize different weight distributions can be used. If you are new to strength training then bodyweight, bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells are fanastic ways to get started.
In fact, I have a Muscular Endurance Conditioning Workout made for you. All you need is a dumbell or kettelbell to do it! I programmed this workout to be tough on the muscles and on the lungs