Women, Drop The Pink Dumbbells and Lift Heavy!


Why are women afraid of weight training? Many female clients come to me with the goal of losing body fat, losing weight, becoming fit, toning up, etc., but then refuse to lift anything heavier than a 5-pound weight!

“I don’t want to bulk up,” they say.

The simple fact is, women should be lifting heavy weights. Yet, fitness magazines show models standing on one leg on top of a BOSU ball and doing tricep kickbacks with 3-pound dumbbells. It has been embedded in women’s minds that to “tone up” we should be using light weights and high repetitions.

This style of training promotes muscular endurance which is the ability of the muscles to perform an activity for a prolonged period of time, however, it does not increase lean tissue.

For anyone, man or woman, wishing to increase lean muscle tissue and decrease body fat, you have to lift weights that are appropriately heavy.

Unless you are taking steroids the fear of looking “manly” is unfounded. Women naturally lack the amounts of testosterone needed to build bulky muscles. Instead, you will look learner, stronger and fit.

Have you ever overheard this: “The muscle I build will burn into fat when I stop exercising”?

Why would you stop exercising? There is no way that muscle can turn into fat or vice versa.

Muscle and fat are two completely different kinds of tissue and one cannot magically turn into another.

A major benefit of increasing muscle mass is the positive effect it has on your metabolism. Muscle is a very metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns a lot of calories when you are exercising and when you are at rest.

The more muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism, and who doesn’t want that?

Many women that I work with are intimidated by the weight room and all of the sweaty, grunting men. They are worried that they guys will be looking at them, making fun of them or be offended by the presence of a female in their “manly environment”.

Personally, I enjoy the looks of shock I get when I load up the squat bar and nods of appreciation are bestowed upon me when I knock out a set of pull-ups!

If only more women realized, most of the men working out aren’t worried about what anyone else is doing. Once my female clients realize this, they start to assert themselves in the weight room and gain a real sense of empowerment that transfers over to their daily lives. They have more self-confidence and a better self-image.

I am not suggesting that you must stop doing cardio or going to your favorite group exercise classes; aerobic training is an important part of total body fitness. But if you are serious about losing body fat and getting stronger muscles and bones, then ZUMBA should be a compliment to your weight training, not the focus of your exercise routine.

Just like starting any new exercise program, be sure to get your physician’s clearance first. If you are unsure about proper weight training technique and program design, please seek the help of a professional trainer or experience fitness professional.

So ladies, please step away from those dinky, pink, neoprene-covered dumbbells. Let go of the images you see in the magazines and on TV. Lift heavy, get lean, and feel great!

About the author

Katie Brumley
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Katie is the Strength & Conditioning Coordinator at the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Dallas, Texas and a certified personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

3 thoughts on “Women, Drop The Pink Dumbbells and Lift Heavy!”

  1. Hi Katie,

    Congratulations on posting a great article – I hope a lot of females read this and take in the key points.

    So many girls say the same thing to me when I suggest using weights, ‘but won’t that cause me to bulk up with big muscles?’
    Like you discuss in your post – quite the opposite.

    I have personally observed a number of females training in the gym I attend over the past 7 years. None of them have ‘bulked up’. However, they do look super – lean, fit and healthy. And a couple of these girls lift better than a lot of the guys.

    Thanks Katie and Blessings Be,

    – Rich

  2. You’re right, Greg. There are some immature individuals out there that are more concerned with joking around with their buddies than actually working out. I would say that those people would probably make good social media fodder themselves.

    Luckily, The Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, where I train, is the kind of gym where people come to work hard for their own health and fitness.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  3. Great article! One thing stuck out to me though “If only more women realized, most of the men working out aren’t worried about what anyone else is doing.” you would be surprised at the younger men now who sit around snapping pictures of others working out so that they can clown them on Social Media. What I would change your statement to say is that “serious” people who work out have on their blinders to everyone else so that they can get a good pump and go home. I would actually counter that in gyms I’ve attended there is a tiny 15% or so female membership but those girls go harder than a lot of the males who attend. Women only need look at the extremely good looking, hard working ladies in the gym who look nothing like the competition magazine chicks but are working out with heavy iron. The myth about “I don’t want to get too big” is one that we are trying to debunk in the male arena too. So much ignorance out there… I will be sharing his article.

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Women, Drop The Pink Dumbbells and Lift Heavy!