Women and Weightlifting

Most of the women I meet who are thinking about hiring a personal trainer seem to have nearly the same goals.

(1) Lose  weight.

(1) Tone the arms, Especially that jiggly back half of the arm.

(1) Flatten the belly.  Especially that part below the belly button that “appears to go around the back when viewed in a certain light.”

(1) Trim the thighs.  Especially the part of the thighs that runs from the ankles to the rear of my pants.

(1) Round out the butt. Especially to give it some lift/perk/bubbling.

Absolute #1 criteria….Don’t make me all bulky!

With all those items covered, allow me to shed a little light on the subject on Women and Weightlifting and hopefully bring a smile to your face.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“High repetitions with light weights are the key to muscle tone.”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Lifting a light weight for many (15+) repetitions has been conclusively proven to cause little muscle growth or strength gains.  This in turn makes it ineffective for fat burning.

Muscle Tone is simply having some muscle mass and a low enough bodyfat level to show it off.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“You can’t train like a guy, cause you ain’t a guy….here, grab that pink shake weight.”


First, I have to get this off my chest, there is no good reason for a dumbbell to be colored pink…even if it is part of the Malibu Barbie playset.  Secondly, there should be no room nor tolerance for a shake weight in any gym in the United States.  Third, I would be highly suspicious of any guy that buys a lady a shake weight as a present.

Now that I have ranted….

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Biologically speaking, it is incredibly difficult for a woman to become bulky regardless of how hard they train unless they are on a course of performance enhancing supplements.  Why is this? Because female testosterone levels are between 5-10% of the average males level.  In short course, it is 10-16x harder for a woman to gain muscle mass than a guy.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

“I’m putting you on a program that will re-shape your muscles to make them long and lean, like a dancers!”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

There are no exercises that will change the shape of your muscles.  The muscle shape was a matter of genetics.  Yoga, Pilates or weight lifting will all strengthen and build your legs, but weight training will get you there the fastest.  That said, Yoga and Pilates have the added benefit of increasing your flexibility.

The WRONG personal trainer will tell you…

(Pick a flabby area)…”sure, I have an exercise that will burn off that particular section of your arm/leg/torso/butt.”

The RIGHT personal trainer will tell you…

Spot reducing body.fat is impossible.  Body fat reduction requires a whole body effort

P.S.  If you are training on your own, don’t be too afraid of trying a heavier set of weights.  Typically I’ve found the average woman to be 5-10 lbs stronger than she thought she was…and the average guy to be 5-10 lbs overly optimistic.


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