Ladies, this is akin to saying, "I don't want to get prostate cancer". Well, yeah, that might suck, but just like you don't have the right bits to get prostate cancer, you don't have the right hormones to get bulky either. So unless you accidentally find yourself double fisting anabolic steroids, that just isn't going to happen. But you know what will happen? Training and eating like a healthy athlete will make you look like (and perform like) a healthy athlete. If that's not something you're after, then by all means, put that barbell down!
Can women develop strong, powerful looking muscles? Yes. Have you ever seen Stacie Tovar? Lindsey Smith? Christmas Abott? I promise you that those women work their assess off for every teeny tiny muscle fiber, killing themselves day after day in the gym. Not to mention, they eat like vikings. They have earned those muscles! Will you look like that after strength training a few times a week. Psht. Not a chance. Unless it's your career, the volume of your training couldn't begin to compare, not to mention they eat your days worth of calories for breakfast. No one ever became a weight lifter or a bodybuilder by accident.
If you want to look skinny or achieve the "thigh gap", well then, perhaps strength training isn't for you. Feel free to hit up the recumbent bike or the elliptical for 3 hours a day and let me know how that works out for your bone density a few years from now. Looking like a 13 year old girl is great…if you're a 13 year old girl. Looking like a strong, fit and capable women sounds like a much better goal for most of us to have, don't you agree?
"But I just want to get toned"
Toned isn't a thing. Someone made it up. Muscles change as a response to exercise. That's it. There's no secret. Your muscles do not become more defined without one of two things happening: a. fat loss, b. lean mass gains. So when you say you want to get toned, you're really asking for BIGGER MUSCLES. The second half of the battle is pristine nutrition.
"I don't want to get too muscly"
Ladies, listen up. You do not possess the necessary hormonal profile to bulk up under heavy weight. Do you know what the 1st ingredient is in BULK? Testosterone. Part of what makes us female is the absence of one hormone in particular. Testosterone. Without the use of some secret supplements, it can't happen. Men have 15-20x more testosterone than women. Women who sport strong muscles are that way BY INTENT. They care more about the number on the bar than the number on their pants. They care more about functional strength than the size of their waist. and they lift heavy things with the intention of lifting heavier things. It's powerful. It's invigorating. and it's not something everyone will understand. I'd rather have muscular quads that allow me to squat, lunge and box jump over a thigh gap that allows me to…well, yeah. Strong isn't the new skinny. Strong is just stronger than skinny. But even if squatting your bodyweight isn't a goal of yours, that's no reason to avoid functional movements like squats, lunges, pushups and pull-ups in lieu of colored dumbbells. Put those down.
"My boyfriend/husband doesn't want me to get any bigger"
Lose him. Seriously. If he has an issue with something that allows you to feel confident, strong, healthy and fit, he's not the one for you. A few years ago, I went out on a date with a friend…around the same time I decided that being strong and fit was a better goal for me than being frail and thin. Midway through our conversation he paused and said, "but you're done right? I mean, you don't want your muscles to get any bigger, do you?" That date was over faster than you can say D-BAG. He's since moved on and found a fairy of a wife who allows him to feel strong, and I've continued lifting. I guess we both won.
Here's the bottom line girls - if you think you have too much muscle, you don't. If you're using words like "bulky" and "muscly" as deterrents to avoid the gym, stop. Lift something heavy and allow yourself to feel like a badass. Heck! Forget how good it feels for a second and do it because it will decrease your risk of osteoporosis and improve your insulin sensitivity, encourage better posture and a healthy blood pressure. Forget body composition and physical appearance altogether (it's vain anyway - Proverbs 31:30), do it for the feeling you'll get when you realise you just did something you couldn't do years, months or even weeks ago. Chase performance. Learn dedication. Be strong.
Eat real food. Lift real weights. Get real results.
PS. If you're a guy reading this and you don't want to get bulky, please don't ever say that out loud.
Eat well. Live well. Be well.