Banish the fear that strength training makes women bulky! A fitness trainer explains why women must make weights an integral part of their fitness routines.

One question that comes up again and again during fitness consultations with women is: will I get bulky? My answer is: yes, you won’t get bulky!

Many females dislike the “ muscular” look they imagine is a result of weight lifting. What they don’t realize is that strength training, if done correctly, won’t make them look bulky. Instead, hitting the weight rack builds health, confidence and changes the self-image.

Getting good advice is important

Some fitness trainers don’t understand their female clients goals, and end up devising workout plans that don’t give desired results. Weight lifting and strength training is approached with wariness, as women are afraid they will bulk up and look “manly.”

Trainers tell them not to worry about this: testosterone is the hormone that builds muscle, and females don’t have much. Since the predominant hormone in women’s bodies is oestrogen, they won’t get muscular.

Not all bodies are the same

This is true, to some extent only.  The reality is that every individual has a easy responding muscle (the muscle which comes into shape with minimum efforts) and a hard responding muscle (the muscle which takes the maximum effort to come into shape). Response to weight training varies, for each individual.

Women whose muscles begin to expand get nervous, and drop strength training. They focus on cardio exercises. Believe me, this is the wrong move.  Aerobic exercise will help you lose weight, but acquiring that toned look takes a combination of strength and cardio training exercises.

Identify the right training style

Ideally, you should do an evaluation every month to figure out how your body responds to different training styles. Gradually you will be able to identify which parts of the body are looking more muscular and which are responding slowly. You should adjust your training accordingly.

An individual routine for each body part

Hips (gluteus) and triceps are your hard responding muscles, so you can train them twice or thrice a week. Chest, biceps and shoulders are your easy responding muscles, so over-training these can make you look bulky. Instead, you can de-train them, i.e., stop isolating them (training them directly) for some time.

While doing a plank, for instance, you are already training your shoulders. So don’t include any isolation shoulder muscle exercise like front raise, side raises, etc., in your training regime.

Whatever you do, just don’t stop!