How women can thrive with weight training
By Trystan Balderston
In this article I will address the misconception that weight training is guaranteed to make you ‘bulky,’ and the advantages of female physiology as related to weight training.
“I don’t want to get bulky”
This is one of the most common fears I hear from women in personal training consultations. You may be concerned that lifting weights will make you ‘bulky,’ more masculine, and less of yourself.
At the same time, I hear “I want to tone up,” just as often as “I don’t want to get bulky.” This presents a bit of a paradox because to ‘tone up’ you will need to engage in resistance training, the very thing that sparks fear! So, lets explore tone vs. bulk. The two terms vary based on the person, but I will do my best to differentiate them.
The way it has been explained to me in consultations and outside conversation, to be tone is to have clear muscle definition, not large muscle size. To be bulky is to have an amount of muscle much higher than the average person, and a certain “fluffy” quality to the physique.
How do I tone and not bulk??
To answer this question, I’ll start by breaking down these concepts into mathematical terms.
Tone=muscle definition. Muscle definition= muscle activation + caloric balance or deficit
Bulk= maximal muscle size. Maximal Muscle size= high volume muscle activation + Maximal muscle growth + caloric surplus + low regard for body composition
If you want to ‘tone’ you need to be involved in a resistance training program that allows for muscle activation and is structured to keep your heart rate up, inducing fat burning. This also implies keeping an eye on your nutrition to achieve your body composition goals.
If you wanted to ‘bulk’ you would engage in a resistance training program designed for muscle growth and eat in a caloric surplus, so the muscles grow larger.
Why women have an advantage in the weight room
Physiologically, you have some distinct advantages over your male counterparts regarding resistance training. Long story short, you can exercise at a high intensity with lower recovery periods, maintain a higher training volume. Essentially, you can work out harder, for longer. If you are able to utilize these advantages and adhere to a personalized program based on your goals, you are well on your way to achieving these goals!