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Building Muscle and Women

woman lifting weights

Very frequently I hear women at the gym state that they are not trying to build muscle, but that they are just trying to "get toned." Then I watch as they proceed to pick up two pencils and work their biceps like crazy.

I'm actually joking about the two pencils, but what I'm trying to convey is that most women work out with very light weights. By very light I mean weights that are under 10 pounds. I frequently see women working out with only 2 pound dumbbells.

So What Is Wrong With Using Light Weights To Enhance Muscle Tone?

First of all, let me state that working out, even with very light weights, will provide some health benefits, will improve your appearance, and your muscle tone to some degree. However, if you really want to tone up your muscles you should use heavier weights. If you are just beginning to workout then you should use light weights and then slowly progress to using heavier weights to avoid injuries. Keep in mind that toning up your muscles involves building muscle.

The reason you should eventually progress to using heavier weights is because to really tone up your muscles they need to be worked hard. If you pick up two 5 pound weights and work out with these without ever increasing the amount of weight you are using, after a short time you will cease to continue to see improvements in your muscles.

By gradually increasing the amount of weight you use you will gain more muscle, which will enhance what most women think of as muscle tone, and you'll get stronger. Maybe even strong enough to finally open that jar of pickles all by yourself. In addition, having more muscle will help you to burn more calories and so you will be able to eat more food without gaining fat. Also, keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat and so you will actually weigh more, but you will look better than before.

Building more muscle and strength will also enable you to better participate is sports and sporting events. It will also make carrying bags of groceries easier, baskets of laundry, ect.

Why Most Women Are Reluctant To Work Out With Heavy Weights

The reason that most women are reluctant to use heavy weights when working out is because they are afraid that they will gain huge amounts of muscle and will no longer look feminine.

Now, I happen to think that women with a lot of muscles look very attractive, however, if the fear of gaining too much muscle is stopping you from using heavy weights then you shouldn't let this stop you. Most women are not going to build more muscle than they want from lifting weights. They will build some muscle and be stronger than they were before, but it is very difficult for women to build huge, bulky, muscles. In fact, most men find this difficult. The bodybuilding supplement industry makes millions of dollars each year because building a lot of muscle is so difficult.

Although it is possible for women to build big muscles, it is very difficult and you would need to work out with VERY HEAVY WEIGHTS on a regular basis. I add this because I certainly don't want to perpetuate the myth that it absolutely isn't possible for women to build muscle. Most bodybuilding information for women states that it isn't possible so that women who are afraid of building too much muscle by working out with weights will finally pick some up and work out. It is possible to build big muscles if you are a woman, however, in order to attain them it would be your goal to do so. It won't just happen by accident, you would purposely build them.

Health Benefits of Building Muscle For Women

There are also health benefits to being stronger and having more muscle.

  • Increased Metabolism - I've already mentioned this, but you are much less likely to be fat if you have a lot of muscle.
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis - This is because your bones need to be strong enough to support the increased amount of muscle. Bone tissue is dynamic and your bones will respond to their increased demand by becoming stronger.
  • If you build more muscle you are also less likely to end up as a hunched over old woman. This point is related to the previous point. Because your bones and back will be stronger you are much less likely to end up with osteoporosis and are more likely to age gracefully.
  • Being physically weak isn't safe - The stronger you are the more likely that you will be able to defend yourself if you ever need to.

If you still aren't convinced that building muscle won't make you look too muscular then watch the You Tube video below by fitness model Jamie Eason:

As you can see, despite lifting heavy weights, Jamie still looks very feminine.

Still skeptical about lifting heavy weights? If so, then try gradually increasing the amount of weight you use and you will begin to see big improvements in your muscle tone, amount of food you can eat without gaining weight, and an improvement in your overall appearance and sense of well-being. What you won't see are huge, bulky muscles.

I realize I'm contradicting myself here a little because earlier I said woman could build big muscles if they really wanted to, however, it is very difficult for women to build large muscles and to do so would be your goal. You won't end up with large muscles by accident. Most people, especially women, usually end up with less muscle than they want rather than more muscle than they want.

Once you get yourself into great shape by building some muscle, you may find that your social life improves too as you'll feel better about yourself and more confidence is very attractive to others.

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