There is far too much bad information floating around out there in the fitness industry regarding women and weight training. The aim of this article is to dispel a few of these misconceptions.


Let me start off by saying this: There is no exercise in the weight room that makes you bulky. Poor diet makes you bulky. A high body fat percentage makes you bulky. There’s this misconception that lifting weights makes women huge and manly. This is false.

“If you’re lean, if you’re an 180lbs dude with 6% body fat… I could have you deadlift until the cows come home. If your diet stays the same and your body fat percentage stays the same, no one is going to be referring to you as bulky because we were deadlifting.”

— Joe DeFranco, Owner of DeFranco’s Gym

What makes both men and women bulky is how much fat they have covering their layer of muscle. All too often, women look at weight training and they associate it with these female bodybuilders on the covers of magazines who are taking all sorts of hormones and training multiple times a day like it’s a job. These women represent a very small percentage of the population. Building muscle is really hard to do, naturally. You need to train smart and you need to eat smart for weeks, sometimes months straight to see any type of gains. It is even harder to build muscle if you are a woman. Women lack the hormones and genetic programming to build muscle at the rate that men do. Therefore, it is highly unlikely, dare I say impossible, for women to naturally end up looking like this:

Unless a female is an absolute genetic freak, she will not get bulky from lifting weights. Even if she wanted to, the female body simply won’t allow it to. From weight training (and a consistent, well-balanced diet), a woman can expect to attain added muscle leading to a tighter body and a stronger metabolism.

Men and women are very different in many ways, but when it comes to strength training, the movement patterns (squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, etc.) and the benefits (increased strength, increased lean muscle mass, increased power, decreased body fat, decreased risk of disease and injury) are the SAME. Women simply see these benefits occur at slower rates, so it is not crazy for women to train the same way that men do.


The majority of books, magazines, and personal trainers will have you believe that doing a whole bunch of repetitions with unnecessarily light weights will give you that toned and shapely look most women are looking for. This is also false. If you don’t challenge the muscle with heavy weight, the muscle will not grow. If the muscle does not grow, they won’t look any different or better than they currently do, even if a considerable amount of body fat is lost. The high rep, light weight style of training results in the “skinny fat”look shown below:

The undeniable truth is that without stressing your muscles with heavy resistance, your body will never look the way you want it to, no matter how little body fat you possess. At the end of the day, all you can do is make your muscles bigger and stronger. There is no way to shape your muscles. Anyone claiming to have the ability to do so is either not qualified to speak on the topic or feeding you lies. The shape and length of your muscles come from your genetics. The claims that certain forms of weight training will make you manly and bulky and others will make you long and lean are wrong. Sculpting is the most accurate word I have come across when describing the possible, in that you can build muscle and you can reduce body fat percentage. All other claims regarding toning and shaping, should be ignored.