Heavy Weight Training Benefits for Women-Without the Bulk

Post Attributed to Steve McFoy, MS. Ed., CSCS Fitness Trainer & Performance Coach (Ahwatukee Location).

Heavy weight training benefits for women are numerous, but some women shy away from incorporating heavy weights for fear of developing a bulked-up physique. I’m here to tell you how women can reap the benefits without the bulk.

Heavy weight training—lifting the heaviest weight possible for 8 to 10 repetitions per exercise—provides women with many health benefits, including improved overall bone density. This is extremely important for post-menopausal women who are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. Limiting the effects of osteoporosis can reduce the risk of injury and increase the quality of life as women age.

Another important weight training benefit is the increase of lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat at the same time. Lean muscle is more metabolically active and helps to burn more calories throughout the day. This causes a shift in body composition, which can have health benefits including the decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and adult-onset diabetes. Weight training can also help to make you stronger overall, improve sleep quality, and increase daily energy.

A common misconception with women in the fitness world is that they will “bulk up” if they train with heavy weights.

Is it possible for women to bulk up? Of course!

Is it likely? No, and especially not by accident.

Women have 10-30 times less testosterone than men, which is a key factor when trying to build muscle. Because of this difference in testosterone levels, men naturally build muscle easier and at a faster rate than women. Unless a woman somehow supplements testosterone, she will always struggle to build enough muscle to become “bulky.”

A second factor that contributes to bulk is diet. Someone who is intentionally trying to increase muscle mass will have a strict, rigorous diet they must follow. They have to weigh and measure their protein, carbohydrate, fat, and total caloric intake on a daily basis in order to maximize their potential to build muscle.

The last key component to increasing muscular “bulk” is time spent in the gym. To achieve a bulky physique, one has to spend hours in the gym lifting extremely high volumes of very heavy weights. This is not something that happens by accident. This type of strength training takes hours of time and dedication that most of the general population do not have or desire to have.

With the bulking myth debunked, women should take advantage of the health benefits associated with lifting heavy weights. To incorporate heavy lifting into your fitness routine, try to perform 8-10 repetitions of 2-3 exercises per muscle group on 2-3 days per week. This allows sufficient stress to be placed on the muscle in order to stimulate adaptation while allowing enough time to fully recover and avoid the possibility of overuse injuries.


If you’d like more information on how to safely incorporate heavy weight training benefits into your exercise regimen, please contact our experts at Foothills Sports Medicine’s FAST®-Ahwatukee location at 480.704.8700.

Steve McFoy

MS. ED., CSCS | Ahwatukee

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).