I don’t want to get bulky.
Time and time again I hear this statement and every single time I hear it I want to cringe. Let me make one point very clear here, females you will NOT get bulky from lifting heavy weights. Here are a few benefits you will get from lifting heavy weights though:
- Better Body Composition: Yes, we all know that lifting weights can improve body composition. But, did you know that lifting loads closer to failure for females can also increase fat loss? In a study done in 2017 they found that when women changed their workout from doing reps of 8-15 at 65-80 percent of max weight to heavy training for four weeks at 88-93 percent of their max weight they saw a body fat reduction of 1.3% and on average lost 2.2lbs. while gaining 1lb. of muscle.
- Stronger Bones: Bone health and density are two of the hardest things for women to improve on. Lifting heavier loads has been shown to increase bone density in women. One of these case studies showed an older woman who competed in powerlifting had a bone density score well above the average of her younger female counter part who was considered to be at peak bone mineral density. This is especially significant when you take into account that females begin to lose bone density and strength in their 30’s but even more rapidly once they go through menopause.
- Hormone Regulation: Lifting heavier weights and doing compound movements like squats, deadlifts and other multi-joint lifts have been shown to activate specific pathways in the body that otherwise would be dysregulated in situations of chronic stress. One of these systems that is affected from heavy lifting specifically is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or HPA axis. Heavy lifting has been shown to regulate this system leading to better weight-loss and composition changes.
To further dissolve the issue of women thinking lifting heavy will increase bulk I would like to point out one more study done recently. This study was specifically done using females lifting heavy and light loads for 8 weeks. The study concluded that there was no difference between women who lifted heavy and those that lifted light loads. In their words their study “suggest neither moderate- nor heavy-load training will result in a “bulky” appearance.”
In the end to create the beach body that most females are looking for you must make sure to lift heavy weights and do compound movements that will help you to build the lean muscle tissue to fuel your metabolism. So, enough with the 40lb. squats for 20 reps and start moving some heavier weight to see some real results!
- Walters, P., Jezequel, J. Grove, M. Case Study: Bone Mineral Density of Two Elite Senior Female Powerlifters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012.26(3), 867-72