Why Women SHOULD Train Like Men

The media has done a good job scaring women away from the weight room by repeatedly showing us ‘Female Weightlifting Champions’ who are of course incredibly healthy and muscular, but not feminine, and not ‘beautiful’. These images perpetuate the misconception that if women workout at the gym and lift weights greater than 5lbs, they’ll soon look just as manly. When I tell my female clients that they’re going to get strong, they often jump to the false conclusion that means they’re going to get “bulky.” This is not at all what I intend, or what happens. On the contrary, if women want to look more feminine and sexy, then they should train more like men.


Gender Bender Weightlifting Science

First, I’ll start with the scientific reason as to why it’s almost physically impossible for woman who regularly lift weights to accidently, over time, appear masculine. We already know that testosterone is a hormone that encourages muscle growth. Males are biologically programmed to produce significantly more testosterone – much more than females could naturally produce. The average testosterone level of healthy males is 680 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) whereas in females it’s only about 60 ng/dL. This means that if women and men who are the same age and of similar biological make-up were to lift the same weights and eat the same muscle-building foods in the same training regimen, the men would see more growth. The women would see muscle growth too, however their muscles would appear aesthetically different than their male counterparts (in a good way).


My Female Clients Train Like Men

Most of my female clients train in very similar programs to my male clients, especially when they have the same goals – to get stronger and change the shape of their bodies. Really the only difference between the two groups is how much they’re eating, and how much weight they’re lifting (in lbs). Muscles take time to build-up. The “bulky” women that the media portrays are usually competitive bodybuilders who have been lifting weights and eating foods specifically designed to build muscle mass. The Champions so often portrayed on those magazine covers have also likely used anabolic steroids or other banned substances at some point in their careers to expedite growth.


Females Also Get Some ‘Heavy’ Weights

What does it mean to “train like a man”? Well, men tend to lift very heavy weights and stay on the lower side of the set/rep range scale. I remember how, in my high school, my gym teacher told all the girls in the class that they should only be lifting ‘light’ weights for 15-20 reps to get “toned” bodies. High rep training is great, but I know now that women are not going to transform their bodies or lose much fat by only lifting light weights. If my female client’s goal is fat loss and changing her body composition, she’ll need to shock her system by picking up something heavy for a few reps.

Conclusion – Women should train like men, including lifting heavier weights, and not be worried about bulking up like the female weight-lifting champions they see in popular muscle magazines.