7 Strength Training Myths Every Woman Should Know

I hate almost ALL fitness marketing that’s geared towards women.

If these marketers were telling the truth, they’d be saying things like:

  • “Want to tone, tuck, and tighten those abs? Don’t waste your time with this!”
  • “Want to banish that belly fat? This ab coaster won’t help!”
  • “Want to get stronger? You’re gonna need to pick up something heavier than this!”

In every issue of practically every women’s fitness magazine, you’re presented with a new workout that promises crazy results in minutes a day by ‘toning muscles’ with light weights and crazy equipment.

You’re promised super-foods that specifically target belly fat, and ab workouts, butt workouts, and thigh workouts that are designed to “tighten those problem areas.”

All of this lingo makes me want to vomit.

And I haven’t vomited in a long time (I’d like to keep that streak going).

More than half of the readers of this website are women, and most of them are interested in strength training, but there is a lot of misinformation out there.

For that reason, I want to set the record straight today and destroy every myth I’ve heard when it comes to women and strength training.

I paired up with Staci Ardison, our lead female trainer for our 1-on-1 Coaching Program at Nerd Fitness, to put this article together. If you’re not familiar with Staci, here are her credentials:

Staci has been training clients for the past 5 years, now deadlifts over 400 pounds, and is the strongest person I know.

I’m going to dig into 7 brutal myths that need to be put out to pasture in this article, but I want to quickly mention something:

If you’re interested in strength training and are unsure of how to do squats or deadlifts, or you’re unsure of how to get started, or you’re lacking confidence to hit the free weight section of the gym – that’s okay, you’re in the right place! We actually created our Coaching Program with women like you in mind!

Our coaches can help you with form check on your movements, answer all the questions you have, teach you how to get started with powerlifting, provide much needed accountability and guidance on how to eat and train, and more!

You can schedule a call with our team to see if our coaching program is a great fit for you by clicking on the image below and scrolling to the bottom!

Okay, let’s get into these myths! 


Myth #1: Women shouldn’t lift heavy or they’ll get bulky

Pink Dumbbell

Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer makes sure that Gwyneth doesn’t pick up anything more than 3 lbs.

…because she doesn’t want Gwyneth to get too bulky.

Which means, I guess, Gwyneth isn’t allowed to pick up groceries, move a chair, carry her child, or do pretty much anything.

This is the biggest myth in all of female training, and it makes me want to punch a hole in the wall.  If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know this isn’t true.

If you’re brand new to Nerd Fitness, then allow me to assure you:


You know those women bodybuilders who look really bulky? They eat, train, and take supplements specifically so they can look like that! They’ve probably been working towards that goal for years and years.

Here’s the truth: when you pick up heavy things, your muscles get STRONGER (but not necessarily bigger). If you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories than you are burning every day, sure…you could get bigger.

However, if you pick up heavy things, and eat a caloric deficit (and eat the right kinds of food – actual healthy foods), your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will get that “toned” look that you’re after.

You know the aformentioned Staci, right?  She picks up very heavy things. How heavy? Her last deadlift session had her picking up 400+ lbs. for a set of five. She weighs 150 lbs. and wears a size US4.

Would you call her bulky? Or would you say “I would love to look like that!”

staci screenshot

Here’s how it works:  Picking up light weights for 20+ repetitions builds muscular endurance; it does not build tight, dense, strong muscle.

So, want to look damn good AND be strong? Pick up heavy things. And continually force yourself to pick up heavier and heavier things as you get stronger.

If you’re interested in picking up heavy things but have NO idea where to start, I got you covered. Staci and I worked together to create a massive, free resource that walks you through every step of the process: from bodyweight training up to finding a gym and what workouts to follow to get comfortable with barbells.

Grab your free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know, when you sign up in the box below and join the Rebellion!

Myth #2: You can spot reduce fat


Sr Mix-A-Lot was wrong. Don’t do side bends and sit ups, because you’re wasting your time!

  • Side bends will strengthen your side muscles without actually reducing any fat there, potentially making you bigger around the waist unless you change your diet as well.
  • Sit-ups will not remove belly fat. They can also wreak havoc on your lower back, and are an incomplete exercise.

Your body cannot spot reduce fat in specific locations. If you have flabby arms or a big stomach, doing thousands of bicep curls and thousands of crunches won’t help.

Your body is genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain locations in a certain order.  When you start to lose weight, your body will lose the fat you currently have in a certain order as well – it might come off your arms first, then your legs, then your belly, then your chest, and THEN your butt. Or in a different order, depending on your personal genetic makeup.

No amount of targeted exercise will change how that fat disappears.

Want to make it disappear faster? Eat better. Your diet will be responsible for 80-90% of that fat loss. Strength train, not with targeted exercises, but with big compound movements that recruit lots of muscle (and thus force your body to rebuild lots of muscle, which requires extra calories burned, even after the workout is done).

Myth #3: You need cardio to lose weight.

Bronwyn Before After

If the thought of running on a treadmill for four hours sounds miserable to you, don’t do it. Bronwyn (above), certainly didn’t achieve her results on a treadmill or elliptical!

If you never run another mile in your entire life, there’s no reason you cannot be incredibly healthy and look amazing.  Despite what you might think, and what you might see in a gym, you will never need to step foot on another cardio machine again.


I’m a big fan of “do what makes you happy.”  If you happen to enjoy running or zumba or step aerobics or jazzercize, that is awesome.  More power to you.  However, if you are ONLY doing those things to lose weight and you’re not seeing results, stop.  There’s a better way.

Believe it or not, strength training will produce a more efficient weight loss effect than an equal amount of cardio.

When you strength train, your muscles are broken down, and then rebuilt over the next 24-48 hours. While your body is rebuilding those muscles, it’s recruiting more calories and energy to make the process happen (generally referred to as the ‘afterburn’ effect).  What this means is that your metabolism operates at a faster level even while you’re sitting on the couch after a workout.

Want to hear something else?  You don’t NEED to strength train either! I hate saying it, but it’s true: if your goal is to JUST lose weight, then fixing your diet will get you 80-90% of the way there.   If you never want to set foot in a gym or pick up a weight, that’s fine.

For exercise, it’s important to find things that make you happy.

Now, if your goals go beyond just losing weight and include things like “looking good” and “being healthy,” then I’m going to ask you to strength train, but there are many ways to do that:

  • Picking up heavy things
  • Swinging kettlebells
  • Doing yoga
  • Doing bodyweight exercises
  • Carrying your kids on a hike
  • Whatever makes you use your muscles in a strenuous way

Strength training is more than just sweating in a gym!

As we’ve pointed out before: “Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease. Cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack as little as three weeks after the attack.”


Myth #4: One plan will work for every woman

silhouette woman

You might be out shopping for that ‘master workout plan’ that works for everyone.

You might read 10 different books on diet, each presenting a contrasting style that promises amazing results.

You might have read our posts on The Paleo Diet and Intermittent Fasting, and wonder: “Will this work for me?”

Maybe you’ve considered buying a Nerd Fitness product and you ask yourself “Is this the plan that will finally get me results?”

The truth: I don’t know.  Everybody, both men and women, react to foods, training, and different stimuli differently.  We are all genetically different, have unique characteristics, different lives, preferences, and struggles.

The only way to know what works for you is to TRY IT OUT, and then TRACK YOUR RESULTS.

Yes, I am a big fan of the Paleo Diet and strength training for both men and women. Will these things work for everybody?


HOWEVER, in my 8 years of experience as Rebel Leader, observing tens of thousands of people working to live better, I believe that following the Paleo Diet and strength training give the greatest number of people the greatest chance for success with the best results.

It’s for those reasons that I champion these diet and fitness strategies.  These are the same techniques that we’re building our foundation around in our flagship course, The Nerd Fitness Academy: we understand that all women are different, which is why we present multiple training options for multiple environments, and diet advice that allows for flexibility based on one’s situation.

Your mom was right.

You are, in fact, a unique snowflake 🙂

Myth #5: Men and women should train differently

man vs woman

This is another myth that drives me crazy.

In commercial gyms across the country, competent trainers are having their male clients go through intense strength training routines with squats, and deadlifts, and overhead presses, and push-ups, and pull-ups, and lunges.

In those same gyms, other trainers (both male and female) are putting their female clients through light weight dumbbell circuits, and stability ball squats for high repetitions, and having them do tricep kickbacks, machine hamstring curls, and more.

There’s no reason men and women should train differently. I’m fairly confident Staci can outlift me (and everyone else in her gym) in a dozen different ways.


There’s no reason that men and women can’t complete the same types of exercises.  While a guy can lift a certain way to get bigger, a woman can lift in the same way, but instead build that dense, tight, and lean look (“toned” ugh) that most are aiming for.

Thanks to hormones, estrogen, testosterone, genetic, and dietary differences, those two people will end up with drastically different results. Remember, your diet is 80-90% of the battle!  

Women have just as much a right to be in the free weights section and squat rack as guys do. Unfortunately, it’s just less common (though the Women of Nerd Fitness are changing that!).

Train how you want to train. There is no reason you can’t do overhead presses, pull ups, squats, and deadlifts like everybody else.

In fact, following a routine like that is a damn good way to give you the best chance to build the body you want!

To hammer this point home: Staci wrote the majority of our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. The videos we mention and link to within the guide are generally of her demonstrating them. And we know that women often have to face additional challenges when training in the weight section of a gym (usually it’s idiot dudes who think they need help, ugh).

If that sounds like something that can help you, download your guide free when you sign up for our mailing list in the box below:

Myth # 6: Want to lose weight? Just eat less!

diet fail

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right?

If you want to lose weight, just eating less will get you there!

And eating even LESS than that will help you get there even faster!

This prevailing attitude is responsible for people all over the country being weak, miserable, irritable, and frustrated.

Yes, eating less will help you lose weight.  However, that is not the whole story.  Surviving on 1200 calories (or less a day) is a miserable way to go through life: always hungry, never happy.

Our bodies need real food, and they need enough of it in order to operate at optimum efficiency.

As I’ve explained a lot on Nerd Fitness, not all calories are created equal (the foundation of the Paleo Diet): Our bodies can react differently to the consumption of protein and healthy fats and vegetables than we do to processed foods, grains, and dairy.

Some trigger positive reactions in our body (“rebuild muscle!”), while others trigger negative reactions (“Spike your blood sugar levels! Pump out more insulin! Winter is coming, so store more fat!”)

You need to eat real foods. And you need to eat enough of it.  Honestly, unless you’re incredibly small, I would never recommend ever putting any woman on a diet of 1200 calories. In fact, I don’t recommend women ever dip below 1800 calories per day if they are exercising regularly!  I understand that every woman is different, and every woman processes calories differently, but I can’t emphasize enough that quality of food is so dang important!

As long as these calories are composed of the right kinds of food, and this diet is combined with a fun workout that gets your muscles exercising and your heart pumping, you will have success.

Conversely, if you only consume 1200 calories per day and you try to exercise, I’m going to guess your body hates you, won’t have any energy, and potentially even revolt against you! You won’t last long on this routine. This is what we’re trying to avoid.

I absolutely LOVED this article – and it needs to be read: An Open Letter to My Weight Loss Clients:

I’m sorry because every time you ate something you “shouldn’t” or ate more than you “should,” I talked about “getting back on the bandwagon.” I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I’m sorry because I get it now.

If you’re trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I’m sorry because I wasn’t trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did. 

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you. 

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense. 

Eat real food!  Gluten free cookies are still cookies. 100 calorie packs of junk food? Still junk food. Fat-free Oreos contain more sugar and chemicals than regular Oreos. Naked Juices aren’t good for you (which is why they got sued for $9 million).

Eat enough food to provide your body with energy to get through your day and your workouts. Just eat the right KINDS of foods.

Myth #7: Older women shouldn’t strength training

sexist ad

After women reach menopause, and the potential for osteoporosis kicks in, many women tend to shy away from strength training for fear of injuring themselves.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

That is the PERFECT time to strength train!  Studies have shown that in post-menopausal women, strength training “preserved bone density while improving muscle mass, strength, and balance in postmenopausal women.”

Age is only a number.  Women don’t get old and thus have to stop strength training, they get old WHEN they stop strength training!  So, if this 73-year old grandma can strength train, what’s your excuse?


73-Year Old Grandma Powerlifter Video

Ready to Start? Check out The Nerd Fitness PROGRAMs

Over the past 9 years, Team Nerd Fitness and I have learned a tremendous amount about how to best serve the ladies of this community.

We’ve taken years of experience, hired people like Jim Bathurst and Staci to make our team even better, worked hard to create an experience that helps you get started with strength training and reaching your goals.

I want to share with you my favorite success story. Meet Leslie, a very sedentary single mom who works long hours that managed to lose 100+ lbs with the Nerd Fitness Coaching Program:

Does she look like somebody who let myths rule her life or keep her afraid? Heck no! She learned to train the right way, picked up a barbell, fixed her diet, and now does crazy things like handstands and ring work!

If you are done with the  myths above, and you’re ready to start strength training, you’re in the right place! Not sure what to do or how to get started?

Consider checking out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program! Our philosophies help women like Leslie above, they’re the philosophies our lead trainer Staci lives by, and they can be the philosophies that help you become strong inside and out.

Click on the image below to schedule a call and see if we’re a good fit for each other!


What myths drive you crazy?

lego lift

These are the myths that drive me crazy, because they keep many women from picking up a barbell and discovering just how empowering picking up a barbell can be.


In the meantime, I’d love to hear what other myths make your blood boil.

What questions do you have that still have you confused?

Let’s hear it!

We’re here for ya 🙂

-Steve and Staci

PS: We know starting with this stuff can be intimidating, which is why we’ve built services and products to help you overcome the chaos and feel confident in the actions you’re taking every day:

  • 1-on-1 Online Coaching: No more guesswork. No shame. No guilt. Just a sympathic ear, expert guidance, and accountability. A coach from Team NF gets to know you better than you know yourself and builds a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits your busy life, your body type, and your goals.
  • The Nerd Fitness Academy A self-paced online course with 7-level no-gym-required workouts, boss battles, HD-video demonstrations, a nutrition and mindset roadmap, and supportive community in our flagship course.


photo source: post-its, weightsilhouette woman, lego, man vs woman, bullseye, sexist ad, magazines

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  • meiah

    I want to lift weights to be strong and burn fat. But I do not want to look like the women pictured at the beginning of the article. So how do I go about this without looking as muscular as they look? thanks

  • Genevieve

    I agree with a lot of this! Although I personally don’t agree that diet leads 80-90% of fat loss. I’ve heard it a few places and just don’t believe it from my personal experiences and observations. I also don’t think it’s healthy, because when you lose wight on diet alone, most of the weight you lose is from muscle and not fat. I think a reasonable diet, plus being moderately active strikes the right balance for weight loss.

  • Huntington Beach Chiroprator

    You shared wonder full blog..

  • Bria, PT, DPT

    I hate the “do a million push ups to make your boobs bigger!” No no no! How about work the shoulder girdle and back so you stand up straighter and show of what you’ve got. That’s more like it. 🙂 Added bonus: avoid ligament impingement injuries! Hooray!

  • MuscularBites.com

    I appreciate the post I completely agree. I am a female who loves to lift, I always have, and I am also a blogger. I used to be a fire fighter and at 120 pounds and 5’4 you can imagine the “you are too small” comments I got. I lift like a guy though and I am proud of that. It is sad to see the articles that state you can get thin and muscular with the 10 minute work outs or the exercises of lifting weights that aren’t any heavier than their shoes. So thank you for the article.

  • Jason Brown

    This article had me giggling. I find the gender dichotomy to be both historically inaccurate (in pre agricultural human groups) and to be honest unfullfilling and limiting to both gender poles. My wake up call as it where was in HS wrestling. Back in the mid eighties a girl had the audacity to get on the wrestling team in Nebraska. Being a small dude, I had to wrestle her. Changed my perspective alot. The whole story is actually kind of funny.

    Anyhow, I do this crazy thing called HEMA and due to its relatively new immergence has a pretty even gender spread for a martial art. Just seeing it all laid out out in one place was great and i now have a place for my students to come take a gander when the either think of themselves in a way or offer “help” to another. Thanks a ton.

  • I whole-heartedly agree with this article. I am a new trainer and before I became involved in fitness I also often thought the same as the bulking up myth -that women would turn into the Incredible hulk if they lifted heavy weights! While I got interested in fitness I started lifting heavier and heavier and started building an awesome body with just enough muscle tone. Now I often get from clients and potential clients, “Oh I don’t lift more than 5-10lbs because I don’t want to get huge and bulky like a man.” No matter how many times I try and re-iterate that women CANNOT get bulky without synthetic testosterone and insane amounts of gym hours, they don’t seem to comprehend. Hoping to find a way to relay this to them!


  • Missy Ellsworth

    I just started working out and dieting. Turns out my metabolism is slowing down, like everyone at my age, and I needed to do something. So I started Weight Watchers and lost about 10 pounds and hit a plateau, and then I just joined the gym. I heard all of these myths and believed them. I’m more confused than ever! I don’t think WW is a great plan to be on if i’m strength training?

  • Strengthtraining-women

    Incredible article! Strength training is the best way to go for everyone, including women, to get in the best shape and be the best version of yourself you can be. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “I don’t want to get bulky”, I usually reply with “That’s good, because you won’t, you’ll get in incredible shape if you stick with it and eat right”. http://strengthtraining-women.com

  • Juju

    Youre awesome Steve! Im an 18-year-old lady and have been struggling to gain weight. Your articles made me know a lot and prevented me from hearing the “wrong fitness advice” Keep it up! 🙂

  • Simone T.

    I’ve just started lifting and LOVE how strong I feel.

  • Bing Bing

    great great article!!! helps a lot 🙂 I’m doing strength training now, like the feeling of getting strong and looking good a loooooooot ~!~

  • spankee

    Best article I have read yet ! thanx for being honest 🙂

  • Neema

    I loved this.. I am 41 and like countless others have been measuring the success of each day depending on the number of calories i ate.. 1200 being of course my magic number as well… but frankly it’s not enough… especially when you are trying to combine with any kind of fitness routine….

  • Older women shouldn’t strength training is really best but if you want to this treating in home you must cheek out here
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  • Kimberly Staford

    I really enjoyed this article. It reinforced my rowing coach’s whole spiel. We were supposed to be eating almost 3000 calories when training for the big races (guys almost 4000). And it had to be healthy. Erging or just rowing is a great workout, total body, strength and endurance. I’m going to start strength training with erging in tandem.
    The ‘get bulky’ or ‘men and women should train differently’ myths are the worst. I hate walking in the gym past women on all the treadmills and only men in the free weights, then they stare at me weird because I like strength training with my mom.

  • LastWomanOnEarth-AndStillFat

    I’m somewhere between 5’3 and 5’4 and 130lbs. Even when I was walking 5 miles per day, jogging 1.5 miles a few times per week, and lifting weights, I would gain fat if I ate anything over 1550 or 1600 calories per day. I just have an insanely slow metabolism and the only time I have ever been able to get away with eating like a normal person is when they upped my synthroid dosage and it was a little too high and my TSH dropped to around 1. This was an abnormal value for me and hyperthyroid symptoms soon followed. Some of us are just the product of many famines. I’m a saddle bagged, pear shaped, famine proof hard gainer, and only drugs and surgery will ever change that. So its 1550 calories per day for me.

  • ItGal

    I love you guys and your articles. But after years of researching and testing myself on diets and exercises, I want to point out this:

    lifting MAY get you bulky. Yup, even if you’re a woman. That is because NOT EVERY BODY TYPE IS THE SAME. Some women just quit the gym cause they’re watching their muscles getting bigger instead of tinier, some instead can do said exercises for years and actually have their frames become smaller.

    My best suggestion is: try and find out the best exercise FOR YOU. Not for a standard group of people or because SCIENCE proves it (studies show there are equal studies proving a certain theory both right and wrong).

    About dieting, cook food yourself and buy the ones with the shortest, simplest ingredients list. Quit or limit ANY kind of food that don’t make your body feel right.

    Generally speaking, processed carbs (not simple carbs in veggies!) and added sugars (not the same as eating fruit or nuts) is the only thing I would suggest anyone to be mindful of. Also, try and eat meat/dairy from grassfed animals, not hormones-pumped cattles.

    Start asking your body: do I feel hungry or do I just have a sweet tooth? Seriously, just think about it. If you feel hungry, then eat. 2 meals a day, 8 meals a day, whatever YOUR BODY tells you it feels right.

    Hope this can be helpful. Peace!

  • emma

    Can anyone help me?

    I’ve been trying to build muscle and get stronger for about 2 years. I’m 5.8 and weigh 7.7 stone (that’s…~49kg/108lb I think?), 22 years old. I dostrength training classes around 3 times a week, along with around 1.5 hours of cardio. I’m lifting the heaviest weights I can and leave the classes completely exhausted, and I eat more than enough calories and protein. I’ve decreased my
    cardio significantly. I just can’t build muscle, my weight will not budge. What am I doing wrong?

  • Pingback: How Maya the Aspiring Aerialist Lost 70+ Pounds! | Nerd Fitness()

  • Varah Potter

    So I’ve started adding weight into my regular training. Okay, not regular yet since I joined a gym the day before yesterday, but I keep hearing about this Paleo diet. I mean, is Paleo diet the only way to go? Or can I do my cardio and weight training and eat healthy with minimum dairy and such and still get great results? I don’t eat a lot of processed food, no fast food, no beef, no pork, no juices, the only milk I drink it the one that is my occasional bowl of cereal, I like cheese but only swiss and I don’t use it all the time. My yogurt is Greek and I rarely eat that. I just started so I guess it is to early to say much.

  • Thanks so much for posting this amazing info! Strength training for women is so important and no, it doesn’t make you “bulky”, just strong, fit and healthy. I’ve been following Nia Shanks for awhile and her program is one of the best I’ve found. If you’re interested, you can access her page here:
    Or find more info here:

  • Anne

    Oxygen magazine doesn’t advocate the use of light weights. It’s basically a bodybuilding magazine, which is why I prefer it over most fitness magazines for women. Using magazine covers from something like Fitness magazine or Shape instead of Oxygen would’ve been more relevant to this article.

  • Shannon Delanoix

    If you are lifting more and more weight over the weeks, you are building. It might not be big bulgy muscle but you are building. Bulking is hard! Some people just honestly arent built to bulk. All I can think of is maybe upping your protein and lifting weights heavy enough to not lift more than 8-10 times in a sitting.

  • Aston Moore

    Great article, I can only reiterate what you have said. Sometime the truth sounds so simple it’s hard to believe. People should take each of your points and really digest them. For some indepth information on some of the things discussed in this article pop over to http://www.elite-athletic-performance.com/strength-training-for-women.html

  • Kyrie Wall

    Do you own the photo? or just post it with credit? thx!

  • serenitu

    i once was told i cannot workout listening to music because then my work out wont count as i am not focused enough in what i was doing.

  • jules

    I enjoyed this article pointed out somethings I didn’t consider… Unfortunately, I don’t want to lose the size of my breasts or butt. My belly I would like to tone a little without losing the hourglass figure I get when I don’t workout as much. I used to run a lot and hated the runners body I got, lost my waistline to a more boxy look. I got disheartened by this. After, 2 kids my body has changed a bit but I have been trying different workouts to keep what I want and lose what I don’t….. Any ideas on what workouts I can do to keep an hourglass figure not lose breast or butt size?

  • jules

    I enjoyed this article pointed out somethings I didn’t consider… Unfortunately, I don’t want to lose the size of my breasts or butt. My belly I would like to tone a little without losing the hourglass figure I get when I don’t workout as much. I used to run a lot and hated the runners body I got, lost my waistline to a more boxy look. I got disheartened by this. After, 2 kids my body has changed a bit but I have been trying different workouts to keep what I want and lose what I don’t….. Any ideas on what workouts I can do to keep an hourglass figure not lose breast or butt size?

  • Tia

    Thanks so much for the great post and for supporting green living! If anyone’s looking for more suggestions and solutions for living greener. http://www.dietwithanattitude.com/

  • Kate

    I recently reduced my cardio, increased my yoga and increased my weight lifting…using heavier weights and lower reps. I was discouraged when I saw the numbers creep up on the scale. I can see and feel the results in my workouts and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, but I can’t help but worry about the scale. This article makes me feel a lot better and is good validation that I’m on the right track.
    Thank you!!

  • disqus_8Jc4KTPlti

    Ohhhh just discovered your blog and I love it! As a kinesiology student I see sooooooo much crap on the internet…especialIy for women…I keep seeing ”belly fat burning” workouts in my facebook newsfeed it drives me crazy. Awesome article.

  • commentator77

    So sick of hearing “Women can’t get bulky” totally feel for this line of crap. I lifted 10 lbs dumbells and did push ups. That’s it no fancy protein shakes nothing but veggies and lean meats for 9 months. I’m on the right with biceps 16 INCHES AROUND!!! Not cute. It was then I got a trainer. Apparently 15% of women CAN get bulky. If I want to be smaller I have to spend a year doing nothing but getting soft, loose most of my natural muscle mass diet some more to loose the fat, then tone up what’s left. So YES, some women can get bulky and it sucks, unless you are body building and it’s your goal then that’s awesome! Be wary and find out your body type before you believe the “not myths” cause everytime I hear women can’t get naturally bulky I WANT to scream.

  • greenandchic

    Thank you! Some of us DO get bulky. Since I start lifting, especially heavy weights, I grew out of several jackets and pants around my bum because of the bulk (while losing body fat). It can happen.

  • Sowmya

    Hi Steve. I am a 40 year old woman and am trying to lose weight. I have started weight training 6 months back, on alternate days. Now, am planning to start weight training everyday. Is it a good idea? I do eat healthy food (Vegetarian: Lots of fruits and veggies included). Please help!!

  • Stina

    This is old but I have questions. You touch on the hormonal considerations of women but don’t get into it much. This interests me as my hormones fluctuate wildly. I think I’m estrogen dominant (based on PMDD, heavy cycles, and HG when pregnant) but hormonal profiles aren’t done for otherwise healthy, reproductive-age women.

    Leaving the lift heavy alone (i don’t question this), is there a benefit to non-birth control women to train and diet cyclically with their hormonal cycle?

  • Carla Victoria

    Hi Steve, thanks for such an awesome article. I just have a question around calories, I’m 5ft4 and weigh 138lbs. I’m trying to get down to my optimum weight which is 125lbs where I look so much better. I’m ‘okay’ as is but don’t feel confident as it sits on my hips and I want to get to my peak again. I have done it before a few times over the years with exercising and eating the right foods, mixed with fasting or eating low calories, however I’m trying to listen to your advice and not go crazy low/starvation route again, as it just all creeps back on and is not good mentally. I’m using MFP, and I’m doing a mixture of les mills bodypump, les mills bodyattack, spin and treadmill interval sessions, around 6 workouts per week. I eat around 1200 -1500 per day, and have a calorie deficit of 300-500 most days but nothing is coming off and although I feel fitter, I’m not losing any weight. I’m on the brink of going back to low calorie days to get the edge. I wanted to ask first, how many calories do you recommend I consume per day? How many extra should I burn in the gym each day? I would like to drop 2lbs per week, but that means an 1000 calories deficit a day based on 3500=1lb rule which is 2 hours per day in the gym! I’d rather eat less. Any thoughts?

  • scubafee

    Is this still live? This site is music to my ears!

  • Mel

    It seems that the fitness and diet industries keep spinning these myths to keep getting you’re money. If you follow their advice all you will do is keep spending money because you will never get in a 10th of the results that you desired or what they claim thats what i learned . But if you do youre own research and find sites like this you will be on youre way to achieving what you set out to with determination

  • So tired of the lift weights and you’ll get bulky if you are a women myth. Especially if you are an older woman. And the older women shouldn’t strength train myth. Not sure which is more upsetting for me? As a woman who is over 55 years old I lift heavy weights, am definitely not bulky! What I am is strong, independent and able to do so many things that many my age and younger can not do. Women must begin to change their focus to change how they feel and look? Stop the yo yo diets and start a fitness plan where you learn how to do resistance training a few times a week. For your best lift! Thanks for sharing and exposing these crazy strength training myths every woman should know. http://simplyfitathome.com/why-women-need-to-lift-weights/

  • Debbie

    I’m 60 post menopausal, was so active prior, now 20 lbs overweight!! 1 month ago started a weight lifting routine M,W,&F, and have seen no results scale or tape. I feel better, and I believe in what I’m doing, also eat locarb,(fat, protein, veggies) Wondering if you could give me some advice. Frustrated!!

  • Clara

    Thanks for the great article. I’m 44 and just started doing body weight training a year ago, after already being paleo for close to 15yrs. In 6 months I lost 2 dress sizes and became miniscule, smaller than I ever thought possible for my frame actually (US 2). My upper body became ripped and so did my abs and I wasnt even doing very much of it. I now want to increase the intensity of these workouts by using a suspension trainer so I can do inverted rows and work up to chin ups etc.

    Im still fairly weak even though I look great and since fatherr time waits for no-one I want to secure fitness and health for my later years by developing these habits now. Ive come to realise vitality is a lifetime habit not a boot camp or a diet. I’m looking at deeloping a workout habit that will continue on for my whole life. I enjoyed this article very much.

    I do believe a lot of the advice for women out there is bogus or is created to pander to the basic human tendency towards laziness. It just seems alot easier to workout when the movements aren’t particularly challenging.

  • Long but great post! Thank you

  • Dani Safford

    This article is definitely inspiring. I am currently overweight (145 lbs, 5 foot 2 inches, ALMOST 32 y/o female) and really desperate to make positive, healthy changes in my life. I am out of shape and when I say that I mean, I see spots and break into a sweat if I jog upstairs.

    I quit drinking alcohol 6 months ago and quit smoking cigarettes 3 weeks ago after 15+ years of smoking. For the past 2 years, I’ve desperately wanted to make changes in my life and focus on building my muscle and strength but I knew drinking and smoking where huge hindrances that have always impacted my health and I am so proud to have finally cut them out of my life.

    I was always thin my whole life until just before I turned 30. From ages 17 to 28 I weighed 90-98 lbs and always wore a size 0. I was never “in shape.” I had never counted a calorie, never done a single exercise, never set foot in a gym and never cared about what I ate. I recently discovered that my daily intake was probably was between 2,000 and 5,000 calories most days because I used to buy a 16 ounce block of mozzarella cheese a few times a week to eat as an afternoon snack. I didn’t have the greatest upbringing and was never exposed to healthy meals or exercise routines; in fact, I truly didn’t understand the concept of exercising. I honestly assumed that exercising was only something people who were overweight did. It sounds so disgustingly ignorant to me now but I truly didn’t understand the difference between being “thin” and being “in shape.” It wasn’t until a friend of mine pointed out that although I was skinny, I wasn’t remotely healthy and could barely walk up the 6 stairs in my house without getting winded. I had never thought about weight or health as relative things. The extent of what I knew about fitness and health was that if a doctor tells you that you weigh too much for your height, you go to the gym and use the treadmill and lose weight until your weight goes down enough and then you don’t have to go to a gym anymore. Seriously. IDK what was wrong with me.

    Everything changed right before I turned 30. I gained 75 lbs out of the blue. My diet hadn’t changed since I was about 8 years old except for the addition of copious amounts of alcohol after I turned 21. But I suddenly found myself 178 pounds and at a complete loss for what to do. See above for the extent of knowledge I had about fitness and health. I tried eating less, eating better and going to the gym 3 days a week (where I’d walk on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes.) What a joke.

    I’ve modified my diet, quit smoking and drinking and am trying to become healthier, stronger, fit, flexible, muscular and more active. I have no freaking clue where to start. I weigh about 145 pounds now after modifying my diet but I am terrified and clueless about how to start lifting weights and building strength and muscle.

    Think of the least active person you know who thinks the food pyramid is comprised of cheese, soda and loaves of bread. Now cut that person’s activity level in half. That was essentially me for 10 years. I ate literally WHATEVER was around or would go get WHATEVER I craved – sometimes 2 orders of Olive Garden’s Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta to eat entirely by myself as my dinner. I never gained an ounce. I smoked 25+ cigarettes a day. I weighed 98 pounds. I had no idea that I was so unhealthy. I wheezed and gasped for air if I did anything remotely strenuous and assumed that was my body’s way of telling me that I shouldn’t overexert myself. When I suddenly gained so much weight, I was so angry with myself for not being grateful for being “so skinny” for so long. I was mad at myself for not realizing how “fortunate” I’d been. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t drop dead of a massive heart attack at age 23. Now, I would NEVER EVER want to go back to eating 8,000+ cheese-laden calories, barely exerting any energy 90% of the time, smoking so much my lungs hurt, drinking until my iver ached. I would never want to be so SKINNY and not FIT ever again. When I gained all this weight, my initial ignorant wish was to “get skinny again” because (like I previously said) I thought skinny and fit meant the same thing. Now I know so much more.

    Now all I want to do is be a healthy, strong woman and a good role model for my 3 kids (I have 2 sons and a daughter.) I want to eat well (not insane in either extreme) and learn to exercise and build muscle correctly. I have no idea how to start. I am searching for resources online but every regimen seems like you have to know so much about fitness before you can even begin. I know very little. I am terrified to walk into my gym because I have absolutely no idea where to begin to start building my butt muscles, leg muscles, abdominal muscles, etc. I don’t even know the names of the machines or what the machines I’m supposed to use look like. I know my gym has a weight section but I would have to ask where it is in order to find it. I can’t find any guidance for people like me. Just when I start to get amped up, thinking I can do this, planting that tiny kernel of faith within myself….I read about bulking and cutting and calorie deficits and the dreaded macronutrient percentage something-or-other….It seems like just for me to get healthy, I need to hire a personal trainer, a nutritionist and become a mathematician…. It gets discouraging.

    I don’t have endless financial resources but would be willing to invest in a legitimately easy to understand beginners program (and by beginner, I mean BEGINNER) if I could figure out where to find one. I guess my insanely long – and probably somewhat offensive because of my ridiculous naivety and ignorance – comment is to ask “Where do I start?” And I literally mean, what’s the actual first thing I should do to introduce fitness, building muscle, lifting weights and developing a workout routine and overall healthy living into my life?

  • this is a good post, but… staci DOES look bulky.

  • AJRock

    Gurrrlllll! You are the bomb.com!!! I haven’t even finished the article and I had to come comment!!!! U are telling my whole life and nothing you have said so far is wrong in my eyes!! Bless your soul for this motivation! I absolutely hate treadmills and ellipticals and cardio period!!! I do like running tho on a nice day out doors, but just hearing this takes away my guilt from not being on those darn machines when I hit the gym!!!! I’ll respond again once im done with article! Ttyl! You da bomb!

  • AJ

    I had this weird thing for awhile. Even just a 30-minute quick walk with my dog would make me pull out a hip or rib. At 5’2″ and 125 lbs, I wasn’t too overweight. But when you can’t even tackle such a low hurdle as a relaxing hike with friends, you feel so weak, old (at only 25, hah!), and out of shape. I started strength training with a personal trainer. We worked mainly on strengthening my hips and core at first. The reasons my hips always popped out is because my hip flexors were very stiff and the surrounding muscles weak. Same with my ribs (intercostal muscles) and my incredibly tight ham strings. When exercising my arms, my shoulders hurt even when using the lightest weights. I found out my shoulders were also quite messed up, weak flexors. I can now safely go for a quick 15 minute run and I use 10 lb weights.

    The lesson I want to pass along:
    When you’re too weak to even work out without injuring yourself, the ONLY solution is strength training. And only then will you finally progress.

  • wedding quest

    OK so I’ve been lifting for a good 5 months and I’m not going to use the bulky word but do woman get more broad threw the chest area due to muscle growth I’m slimming down but have notice my chest getting wider?

  • Yasbeth

    I’m not very experienced in weight training I just jump into the machines and start working different parts of my body for 30 min and then finish with interval climbing on the elliptical for 30 and voila finished but I’m not sure if what I’m doing is the right way . Any tips welcome please !!!!!!!

  • Kevin

    Awesome article, my friend she actually taught me how to train properly and stuff, we went on a survival trip together where I had my first ”I want to be strong” resolve. So we trained every day with push ups, peck exercises squats, biceps, triceps workout abs. 2 hrs a day. and 1 -2 days rest in the weekends.

    I started with 20 push ups with arms wide. And then did the same as her, its like forming a diamond in your hand. And we do 100 in a row now. She is not bulky, but hella strong. So its wierd that girls worry to get bulky. Dont worry, being healthy should be a priority, who cares what others say.