Fitness Myths Busted – Myth 1 – If women lift weights they will get big and bulky


If you have ever trained yourself, or I’m sorry to say been to see a personal trainer (because we aren’t immune to believing the myths) then you will have probably heard things like

  • this number of sets and reps is the perfect amount for building muscle
  • if you eat 15 chickens a day you will only put on lean muscle
  • ab exercsies are the best thing for getting a killer six pack

Where did these myths originate, however, and is there any truth in them??  I’ve done a bit of digging around and added a few little bits of my own knowledge to hopefully mythbust some of the better known training myths.  Over the next few days I will regularly be adding short articles hopefully either proving or disproving these myths.

Myth 1 – Women who lift weights will get big and bulky.

After speaking to women in the gym and during training there is a real hesitancy from them to lift weights, not even heavy weights, just weights in general.  The most popular reasons seem to be – I don’t want big muscular arms, or I don’t want my boobs to shrink.  I’m sorry ladies but these are both massively removed from the truth.  Women only look muscular when they are either a)on steroids or b) have a body fat percentage of about 4!


As far as I can gather there is no real specific point when this myth originated. It is purely a matter of peoples perception of females who lift – bodybuilders who are usually both pumped full of steroids and have dangerously low bodyfat percentages.

The long and short of it is women have too much oestrogen in their system to allow muscle bulk.  In order for muscular size to build large amounts of testosterone need to be present, which women (unless on steroids) do not have.  You can take Jodie Marsh as a perfect example of this.  When she was on stage for her body building competition it seemed as though her muscles were enormous and bulging, yet after a few weeks of eating normally and getting back to a healthy body fat percentage you couldn’t even tell.  As for chest focussed weights making boobs shrink then I suppose in some ways it is true.  But only in as much as lifting burns calories, burns fat and as I’m sure you are aware boobs are fat.  What trainers need to be telling women is that chest weights will help to counteract the effects of gravity later in life!!


To conclude lifting should be completed as part of any programme be you male, female, young or old.


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I am a personal trainer and sports scientist working in Manchester. After graduating from the University of Salford with an Applied Sports Science degree, i was employed by the University to work with their professional sporting partners. As part of this I spent 6 years working with the first team at Salford City Reds as a strength and conditioning coach. I was also used as a consultant sports scientist by the University for teams including Manchester City, Lancashire Cricket Club, Sale Sharks and England Lacrosse. Since leaving my position at the University I have been working as a freelance sports scientist and personal trainer in and around the Manchester Area.

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