Weightlifting bulks women up. Myth or Facts?

As a personal training (PT) I get a variety of clients who all have different goals. Part of my job is to help them define those goals clearly and help navigate their nutrition, lifestyle, and training toward those goals. A common conversation for many of my female clients is that their goals are to tone up and burn fat. However, they are worried about using weights to achieve that goal because they believe that it will make them too big or look like a body builder. I want to speak to some of the basic facts about weightlifting for women and help clear the air on some of the myths. 


Myths: Can weight lifting bulk women up? Sure. Weight lifting can bulk anyone up, but this is way to simple of a statement to assume that weightlifting itself bulks people up. You have to think about nutrition, programing with weightlifting, lifestyle, etc. There is no scientific fact that if you pick up weights, or do weight lifting its going to get you bigger, and your going to gain weight. The truth is, the women who are bodybuilders, Crossfit Games Athletes, or power lifters have to eat and train a lot to get bigger. For example, Tia Clair Toomy, who is the fittest women on earth and won the 2017-18 Crossfit Games, has to eat 5 meals during her training days. Not only that, but she has to maintain around 230g of carbs and 140g of protein. Just to give some perspective, I’m a 195lbs man who does resistance training, and my protein in take per day is suppose to be roughly 139g. So, the point is that you don’t have to be afraid of getting “to big”, or “bulking up” from weightlifting unless your intentionally training and eating for these results, which takes a lot of energy, discipline, and focus. 

Second, women’s biological makeup doesn’t have the testosterone levels of a man making it much harder to gain bulky muscles. The facts are that the average woman has about 5% of the testosterone level of a man. Given this understanding of the female body, the realities are that women have to maintain a rigorously strategic diet, workout program, and lifestyle to make bulky muscle gains (or add more testosterone to your body… I don’t suggest this). In other words, you don’t have to fear bulking up from weightlifting. 


Warning: What can happen to a lot of women (men too) who start weightlifting is an increase in appetite from your body burning more calories. Often this leads to over eating because most people are not tracking their caloric intake. However, this has nothing to do with weightlifting, and is rather a dietary matter. Getting the right amount and the right kind of nutrients is always going to be key to toning up and there is no way around that fact. 



Facts: When you think of each one of these categories, Training, Nutrition, Lifestyle; you have to also ask what is my goal. In other words, what we like to say here at Vital Fitness is “what is your why”? Do you want to lose weight? Does the metrics of saying I’m 10lbs lighter matter to you, or is more about feeling healthier? It could be simplyplanning for long term health heading into the later years of life? Maybe it really is just aesthetics that someone is looking for, but describing what those important goals are is very important because good use of weightlifting and programing depends on them. In others words, a better question is “can weightlifting help me tone up?” and the answer is an absolute yes. Resistance training or weightlifting helps with the following:

1) Burns fat during and after workout 

- Heavier weightlifting causes consummation of oxygen causing excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which makes our bodies use more calories and increases metabolic rate. 

- The more muscle contractions you experience a day the more calories you burn

2) You’ll Gain and Maintain Muscle 

- Women between ages of 30-70 lose and average of 22 percent of their total muscle. This is why the scale isn’t the biggest indicator of fitness. Sometimes you can get the number on the scale down, but your body fat composition is higher. 

- Gaining muscle burns fat, helps with balance, energy, and heart health. 

3) Specific Body Parts 

- Weightlifting or resistance training can help with over compensating certain muscles and under compensating others creating deficiencies in our body. Aerobic and cardio training can’t specify certain muscle groups as well.

- This helps give a more well rounded healthier body and achieves an individuals specific needs. 


Weightlifting is the fitness world’s friend and always has been. The real work is defining your goals, track your nutrition, and picking the right kind of weightlifting program to help you achieve your goals. We at Vital Fitness Lakeland would love to help you on this journey, so come on in for a Free Intro and let us join you in this journey.