Can Women Add Muscle Bulk?

I am a woman and want to perform weight lifting without adding bulk. Can this be done and if so, how?


It is very common for women to have concerns about bulking up when participating in weight training. While women can increase the size of their muscles, I want to emphasize that you will not get the freaky big masculine appearance that you may have seen on TV or in magazines without taking steroids.

The powerful hormone, testosterone, is responsible for muscle growth and although it is present in much lower levels than men, women do have it and can gain some size to their muscles with weight training. Because many women take what I have just said out of context, I want to explain what gaining some size means.

To increase the firmness or tone of a muscle requires increasing the size of the muscle to some degree. When you participate in weight training, the muscles get firmer and stronger, giving them a more appealing shape and appearance to them. The beauty is that although there may be a slight increase in size of the muscle, a firm muscle is shapely and gives you the feminine curves that makes you look smaller compared to a flabby, soft muscle.

The number of repetitions you perform at maximal effort is the determining factor in the results you will get from weight training. A 10-repetition set at maximal effort is what has scientifically been shown to increase the natural release of testosterone into the bloodstream. If your goal is to increase your muscle size, 10 repetitions per set is optimal, while if you wish to increase muscle tone without affecting the size, I suggest 15-rep sets. If you feel that you gain size easily, go with 20-rep sets. No matter how many reps you choose to perform, you must put forth considerable effort to reach the end of the set or the weight is too light.

The benefits of weight training are limited to improving your appearance. The increased muscle tone revs up your metabolism, which will help you burn fat and give you a “cushion” when you do not stick to the diet as well as you should. Weight training also helps you maintain or increase your bone density, which is a huge women’s health issue.


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