Do Women Who Lift Heavy Weights Get Bulky? Bromley Personal Trainer Offers Scientific Reasoning!

When it comes to training women for shape change, body fat reduction and muscle lengthening and toning few Bromley Personal Trainers have as much experience as Andy Blackwell owner of Limitless Fitness.

In his 6 years as a Personal Trainer in the Bromley borough he has trained over a 1000 female Bromley personal training clients, many of which followed his advise to the letter to achieve the lean healthy shape they desired.

So is it truth or myth that women who do heavy weights will bulk up their arms, legs and torso? Andy explains that it is in fact myth giving 10 reasons below:

  1. Women have far less Testosterone than men. Men naturally have between 15-20 times the testorone of women. Testosterone is absolutely key when it comes to growing larger muscles. High levels of testosterone promotes muscle growth after high volumes of work placed upon the muscles.
  2. What about the women on the covers of female body building magazines? Why do they bulk up? It’s all to do with the fact that they are mostly majorly “juiced up” on enhancers that virtually change the female body conditions to those of a man. Without getting too technical, if you add the testosterone levels of a man into a woman artificially (increase it by a multiple of 15-20), then you are going to see that women’s body effectively get more “manly”. Changes that often occur are: Increased muscle hypertrophy (size); Lessoning frequency of monthly cycle; Lowering of natural female fat stores that are essential for fertility (mammaries and buttock fat); More aggressive nature may also be a side affect; sometimes “Adams apple” development and lowering in pitch of the vocal chords lead to a “more manly voice”.
  3. Heavy weights promote strength. They are not attributed to promoting size increases in muscle. Working heavy at around 6 Reps places the nervous system under extreme stress and not so much the muscles being used. Therefore the bodies response is to promote strength gains rather than size.
  4. Toning for women occurs when the muscle is developed through training. In effect women training for strength gains will develop toned musclulature rather than bulk due to not having the missing link (vital testosterone). The toned appearance comes from a metabolism shift which promotes lean muscle growth coupled with burning excessive local fat-stores. Spot reducing of bodyfat is very difficult to achieve (certainly not impossible) without going down the hormonal analysis route, however if lean muscle is increased coupled with an increased metabolic response due to having more muscle, then the odds of toning are greatly increased. “This is the ‘Russian magic’ part of a top fitness professionals work”. Explains Bromley personal trainer Andy
  5. Bulking of muscle occurs through high volumes of work.  The chosen repetition range of most ladies who train is often medium weight at a medium to high volume (8-20 repetitions). This actually would promote muscle growth (size increase). An example of this is that a simplified typical body-building schedule would include 3 or so exercises for a body part. Eg For the upper back they could do three sets of 12 reps Seated Row. Three sets of 12 bent over/reverse flyes and three sets of 12 widegrip assisted pull-ups. This would mean that the total reps for the upper back would be over 100 reps which is high volume and geared more towards body-building. A program that is purposed for strength gains would contain something more like Seated Row for six sets of 4 heavy repititions (24 reps per bodypart). This will promote strength gains during recovery phase. Contrastingly, 100+ reps would cause a large amount of muscular damage leading to hypertrophy and a re-growth that is bulkier under the right conditions.
  6. Many personal trainers are working with female clients but simply not getting the client the results they want. This is usually down to one or more of these things: The trainer makes the client do too many high repition exercises that involve body-weight and high repetitions sometimes due to not wanting to scare off the client who is scared of bulking and hard work. This would mean the trainer would lose out financially. Andy explains: “The best personal trainers are great at initially finding out how much it is worth to the client to get to their objective. They then would run the client through the exact steps required to get there, if they still are interested in the prize then they would cover the science with explanation and assure the client of what they will get if they follow their plans and put the hard work in.
  7. Bulking up requires high calorific intake: This means that if you are not getting in more calories than you require to stay the same size you will not bulk up at all. Many men who have testosterone but do not manage to get in the calories or decent wholesome nutrition will not bulk up so there is a lesser chance for women. A top personal trainer will always be able to quickly calculate a clients calorific requirements for their objective and tweak if need be as the program goes on.
  8. Bulking up takes time: Bulking is not a process that occurs over night. Results are seen over periods of weeks and months of consistant training and correct nutritional intake. You simply would not do a one-off high volume session one day and bulk up the next.
  9. 15lbs-20lbs gained in the 1st few weeks at university would not be caused by strength training! It is physiologically impossible to place 15-20lbs of solid muscle on the frame in just a few short weeks unless on performance enhancing drugs or growth stimulators. When a female athlete or even regular intense trainer joins a university and changes to eating just twice a day (instead of 5-6), has 6-8 beers 2-4 nights a week,  doesn’t make training a few times due to hang-over, they then put on “fat-weight” and get slower than before and then wrongly blame their strength program. Hey strength training is good but it can’t swim upstream!
  10. Most “experts” are usually only experts on sounding like they know what they are talking about. Beware that many “fitness experts” have never once trained correctly day in day out to achieve a lean-ness objective, a strength goal or to bulk up. Many will talk like they know without ever having had first-hand experiece of even one of the three above. So be wary of any advice given to you by the guy who sounds like he knows what he is talking about because he lifts a few weights (you’ll find him in every gym). If you are thinking of hiring a trainer ask for their credentials, testimonials, thoughts on the subject in this article before paying your hard earned cash and much sweat on wasted training sessions.