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Women & Muscles: Apples & Oranges, or Birds of a Feather?

November 17, 2011
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In the past several months I’ve had a few conversations, with men, about women and muscles. Mainly, that women really don’t need / shouldn’t have muscles.

That’s definitely a loaded statement, both in the starkness of the statement plus the lack of context for either of our backgrounds. I have no idea what led them to feel this way and they’ve no idea why I would find it offensive.

Perhaps their idea of a woman with muscles is a female bodybuilder: a woman with super-tanned, taut skin stretched over muscles which are in many cases larger than theirs. Or perhaps even a hint of bicep makes them uneasy. Who knows?

One man in particular, an employee at my gym (trainer is too generous of a word) stopped me while I was doing squats to tell me: “You should do fewer reps so you don’t bulk up. Women don’t need a lot of muscle.

I was too shocked (and in the middle of my set) to really respond, so I put on my listening face while I thought to myself, “This guy has no clue. More reps + lighter weight = toning muscle. Fewer reps + heavier weight = building muscle.

As I mentioned when I reviewed the Nike Training App, I am now finished reading “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” and I really enjoyed it. Since I’m no stranger to weight lifting, most of it reaffirmed what I already had learned, but it gave some great advice and awesome exercises that I’ll be returning to often. I haven’t been able to commit to the lifting routine they set as I’m already really happy with my strength training class 2x a week, but I’d like to fit in another workout and I’ll probably start here.

The author also takes the time to dispel a bunch of myths around women and weight lifting like “women will bulk up like men if they lift weights” (false).

I’m lucky in that I have this platform & the opportunity to share my point of view re: women & muscles:

  • I’m definitely not trying to become a female bodybuilder (though I wouldn’t look down on someone else if that was their goal)
  • I’ll never be skinny – mainly because my body isn’t built that way, but mostly because I’m not willing to change my lifestyle that drastically and sacrifice the way I eat and enjoy food that much, for the rest of my life. So I’d rather have a larger frame, but toned and I think I’ve found a great, sustainable balance
  • women with muscles look healthier than those without, at any weight
  • not every woman in the weight room wants to look like a bodybuilder (probably very few of them do)
  • building muscle will make most other exercise and sports more enjoyable and easier
  • muscles are sexy
  • muscles make you feel strong in every move you make, from walking to bending over to having more energy on a daily basis
  • keeping muscles takes a lot of work
  • lifting weights is fun.
That’s how I see it.

If you’re a woman who has been skeptical or afraid of lifting weights, let’s chat!

This is where I show you my guns. My rockin’ biceps, that is. At least, if I had the courage* to do so, this is where that photo would be. Maybe soon.

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*My lack of courage is slightly due to the fact a ton of my colleagues read this site, for testing purposes and whatnot. I’ll get over my hesitation someday. Soon.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2011 2:22 pm

    I definitely agree that this is a loaded question where men should tread lightly :) I regularly include strength training into my cardio workouts and love the shape its created for me. I feel stronger than ever and still very feminine!

    • November 17, 2011 4:54 pm

      Ya, it seems like a contradiction, but I definitely agree you can be muscular and feminine! :)

  2. November 17, 2011 4:08 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said here. Women shouldn’t be afraid of weights. The women in my CrossFit gym are kicking my ass (but I’m catching up) and none of them look like bodybuilders.

    BTW, you look great and have nothing to be afraid of. Show off that hard work if it makes you feel good.

    • November 17, 2011 4:55 pm

      Thanks Nick! You’re an inspiration to me! We’ll see if I get courageous or not – all of the healthy living bloggers do those progress pics. I’m pretty proud but still shy :)

  3. November 17, 2011 5:05 pm

    For testing purposes?! We read it because you’re great and we’re in awe of what you’re doing. You look fantastic.

    • November 17, 2011 11:45 pm

      Thank you, Hanni :) I’m sure your regiment will blow me out of the water by the time I see you next!

  4. Sara Kauppila permalink
    January 1, 2012 10:49 pm

    I am the same way…I don’t have the body type to be super thin (nor do I want to be) I have been naturally gifted with a lot of muscle mass :) and I am currently working towards becoming extremely toned. There’s nothing more sexy than definition on a women it shows that they work hard for their body. There are extremes though.

  5. lower leg muscles permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:12 pm

    Who doesn’t love a women with nice leg muscles?

  6. January 25, 2013 6:53 am

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
    My blog is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would definitely benefit from some of the information you
    provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you.
    Thank you!

    • January 25, 2013 8:16 am

      Please don’t reprint my articles. You’re welcome to link to them. :)

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