For all women pumping iron in the gym or at home – I have no doubt – there is always this nagging thought:

What if I get big, bulging muscles!

Almost every excuse or complaint that women give for not lifting weights – hard – is this belief that they will get big bulging muscles from hitting the weights.

If it were only that easy.

Still, pumping iron is going to build muscle.  So the question, as it relates to woman building muscle, is how much muscle can a woman build – can it be too much?

How many times have you heard a woman say, to the effect, ” I don’t really want big guy muscles; I just want to tone my body.”

By the way, what is that?

What is tone?

I don’t know what tone is, but I do know this:

  • Weight lifting builds muscle, makes it hard and strong.
  • Dieting burns fat and sheds pounds.

So, where or what is the toning?

Well, okay, back on point…

Sally Feinerman wrote a nice article, Top 7 Women’s Bodybuilding Misconceptions, in case she tackled some of the myths around women weightlifing. Still, I think this is a good topic to revisit. And I’ll attempt to stake this vampire one more time.

I am reprinting the following section directly from my article, Pumping Iron Builds Too Muscle for Women, Plus Forced Chin-ups To Torture Your Back, from my other blog,

Building muscle is hard.

If it were easy, then everyone would be massive. But it is not easy. Simply pumping iron is not going to give anyone bulging biceps and tectonic pecs.

Women can no more build muscle fast and easy than men can. And trust me, it ain’t that easy!

For all the women who think that curling a 10 lbs. dumbbell is going to make them look like Ms. Olympia, they are mistaken.

Case in point – my first example is this woman who is in the down position of an Olympic weightlifting Snatch movement. She is holding a 135 lbs. barbell over her head.

That is simply impressive.

That is strength beyond 99% of all human beings – I’m guessing.

Yet look at her arms. Look at her development. Her shoulders – square and strong. Her Back.

The strength in her torso, hips, quads, her flexibility – this is phenom!

What you see is a very fit, strong-looking human being.


Where’s the bulging muscles?

This whole line of thought came to me when a buddy told me to look at this YouTube video of a gal deadlifting 275 lbs. for multiple reps.

Very impressive.

The lifter is Nia Shanks. Turns out she runs a very cool website called – Lift Like A Girl. I think she means just lift.

Here’s the video:

Check her out. Does she look massive and muscular? I think she weighs about 120 lbs.

And she’s deadlifting 275 lbs.

For 6 reps.

That’s ridiculous – and most impressive


Where’s the bulging muscles?

You would think – following the logic of some – that Nia Shanks would be a mastodon, considering how strong she is. Again, I think she weighs 120 lbs. or so.

But no – she simply looks like a fit, strong human being.

That’s what resistance training will do for you. It will make you fit and strong. Yes, it will give muscles; but every ounce of muscle you gain will be hard-fought and hard-earned.

And it won’t come easy.

That said…

Just lifting is not enough. You do have to know what you are doing. More importantly, you have to know what you want for the end results. As Dr. Covey says, “begin with the end in mind.”

It’s the why before the how.

The why is all you.

The how – well, you can start with these suggestions:

  • Seems like website has some good info on it.
  • Sign up for one session with a personal trainer at your local gym.
  • Head over to my workout routine pages and get some ideas, because whether man or woman; the lifting is the same.
  • Look for Ebook programs like Visual Impact For Women that can point you in the right direction.

One thing I like about programs like Rusty Moore’s VI for Women is that while the lifting principles are the same; it does not necessary stand that you should do the same program as a guy. That is unless you want a physique that ultimately looks like guy’s.

For example – do women really need to do bench presses, flyes, and dips or cable crossovers for a chest workout?

On the other hand, a shoulder workout of seated dumbbell presses, standing lateral raises, and face pulls would be okay.


Because I think a solid, square set of delts on gal looks good; while the kind of board, square pecs that look good a guy might not on a women.

It’s all about knowing what you want to look like before you get started.

How do you want to look?

Which is why programs like Rusty’s VI for Women are useful.

But the bottom line is this…

Whether you are a woman or a man; hit the iron hard and work those muscles hard. Get strong and muscular. Then, or concurrently diet to show the lean muscles underneath…

And then – maybe you can look like Shannon Veurink or Stefanie

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