6 Female Strength Training Myths That Won’t Die – Busted!

mythbusters1We’re gonna have some fun today.

It’s time to bust (or, hopefully, absolutely demolish) six popular female strength training myths that just won’t die.

There are dozens of myths about women and weight lifting, but below are six of the most common myths.

It’s time to obliterate these once and for all.

Myth #1 Weight Lifting Makes Women Big ‘n Bulky

It’s no surprise that this is still the most common female strength training myth. Frequent, progressive, heavy weight lifting with basic compound exercises does not make women big ‘n bulky. 

The true culprit that gives a woman (or anyone!) a bulky appearance is excess body fat. Period.

I can deadlift 330 pounds, perform weighted chin-ups, parallel bar dips, and squat 1.5 times my body weight. All of my female clients participate and perform progressive weight lifting (though I always use exercises that are appropriate for each woman and that she prefers), and no one in my 10 years of personal training ever complained of getting “bulky”.

Many women are hesitant to lift heavy weights at first because of this prevalent myth, but after a few weeks, they love the physical AND mental results they achieve, along with the other phenomenal strength training benefits. Bottom line – progressive strength training helps women build the body they truly want. It also helps increase self-confidence, which is an incredible bonus.


Now, it’s important to note as well that not everyone wants the same physique. Some women want to build as much muscle as possible while others just want to look “toned” but not too heavily muscled. Furthermore, we all have different body types. As you can see by the photos above, I have long limbs and a short torso. By contract, my body looks completely different than a woman who is the same height and has the same bodyweight but has the opposite build – short limbs and long torso.

If your goal is to lose fat but you don’t want to become “bulky”, don’t worry. Strength training can help you achieve that goal better than just cardio alone. But you won’t wake up looking like The Hulk after strength training for a few weeks.

Myth #2 Weight Lifting Isn’t the Best Way to Lose Fat & Get That “Toned” Look

If a woman’s primary goal is to lose body fat and slim down, she just needs to do cardio, right?

Absolutely wrong.

The only way to get that “toned” look is to build some muscle and lose excess body fat. This is where strength training reigns supreme, not cardio. That’s why Lifting Like a Girl is the ultimate way to get the body you want in minimum time.

Myth #3 It Takes Too Much Time to Strength Train

No, it doesn’t. You can perform an effective workout in as little as 30 minutes a few times per week. As long as you are performing compound exercises and challenging yourself (using enough weight!), and you improve your performance, you don’t need a lot of time.

In fact, you can achieve great results with just two strength training workouts per week.

The important thing is that you focus on quality and not quantity. Work hard on a few great exercises, improve your performance when possible, and be consistent.

Myth #4 You Need a Lot of Equipment

Again, no!

Do you need a fully loaded gym to build a strong, lean, and healthy body? Nope.

You can build the physique you want no matter what equipment you have, or don’t have. Only have your bodyweight and dumbbells to work with? You’re all set.

What if you only have your bodyweight? Can you build a great body with only bodyweight exercises? Absolutely! (In fact, we demolished bodyweight workout myths in Busting Bodyweight Exercise Myths).

Bottom line – whether you can only workout at home with your bodyweight or you have access to a loaded gym, you can build the body you want.

Focus on what you CAN do, no matter much or how little equipment you have.

Myth #5 Strength Training is Dangerous

Anything is dangerous if you do it incorrectly. Strength training is no exception.

As long as you take the time to learn proper form on the basic exercises and always use a spotter or additional safety measures (e.g. squatting in a power rack with safety bars), weight lifting is very safe. End of story.

This is dangerous. Don’t do it.

Myth #6 The Proper Way for Women to Strength Train is to Use Light Weight for High Reps

This is still a common recommendation (and sometimes meant in a degrading way). Women should only  use very light weights for high reps (usually 15 or more), or so the myth goes.

While high rep exercises do have their place and benefits in a strength training program, that shouldn’t be the only thing you do, nor should it even be what you do most of the time.

For one, I like to encourage women to challenge themselves and discover what their bodies are capable of doing; to see the physical strength they possess and not base their self-worth on their physical appearance. This cannot be accomplished with triceps kick-backs with a soup can; not even a “family size” soup can.

Second, if you don’t use a challenging load, you won’t provide your body with a stimulus that is must adapt to. For instance, if you work your way up to picture perfect push-ups for 10 or more reps, you’ll get those sexy arms you’re after. A soup can won’t be able to do that because the weight never changes and super high reps with baby weights won’t be a challenge to your body.

Third, lifting heavy weights (6-12 reps, primarily) will lead to an increase in self-confidence which is just one of many reasons women should strength train. Unless you’ve experienced this phenomenon for yourself, you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’ve witnessed this with every single female client. Think you’ll feel strong and confident after vigorously attacking the Shake Weight for five minutes? Didn’t think so.

Boom! These female strength training myths have been shattered!

For more information about strength training, be sure to check out these awesome free Tutorials:

Train to Be Awesome Tutorial – How training to be awesome is a great way to build the body you really want.

Beginner Strength Training 101 – New to strength training? Start here.

Beautiful Badass 101 – What does it mean to be a Beautiful Badass and why is it a great way to strength train? It’s explained here.

And, finally, sign up below for the free Beautiful Badass Mini Course below. You’ll also get exclusive insider-only information. 

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