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Weight Lifting Exercises for Women

Weight Lifting Exercises for Women

The Truth About Females and Lifting Heavy Weights
By Flavia Del Monte – RN, CPT, Precision Nutrition Certified

Expressing fear of building muscle and looking like a man by merely hitting the weights is like me saying “I don’t want to play golf because I’m afraid I’ll turn pro….”

Nothing just happens – including building muscle!  If your body was destined to look like a man,than you would probably already know it!  Genetics don’t change over night….

Unless you have a river of testosterone flowing in your blood, the fear of getting big is unfounded!  Competitive female bodybuilders train at least three hours a day and perform 20-30 sets PER body part with their womens fitness programs in hopes of getting a fraction of the size of their male counterparts.

GETTING BIG IS NO EASY TASK FOR A FEMALE…  and if it were than you would see Jane swinging from the vines and swimming with the alligators, not Tarzan!

Simply put, this myth has no scientific backbone. It is very hard for most men to build muscle; let alone women. I hear of men who are eating thousands of calories and lifting heavy weight but don’t put a pound of lean muscle mass on their bodies. Yet, females are afraid lifting weights will make them look like a man!

Little-Known FACT

Not only lifting weight, but lifting heavy weight will give you definition and that toned look that is desired from EVERY female all over the world.




First off, men have 10 to 30 times higher levels of testosterone than females.

Women do not have a large testosterone production in their body, making it impossible to build muscle at the same intensity as a male. A male is made up of a lot more muscle than women. 23% of a women’s weight is muscle, compared to 40% of a male’s weight.

Women simply do not have the genetics to build muscle and the women that have done so, have done so by genetically altering their bodies.

I can take a guess that most women want a TONED look. When your muscles look etched, it is because of a low percentage of fat around that muscle.

Toning and muscle building is one in the same!

There are 3 ways growth occurs in muscles:

  • during resistance training (followed with precise nutrition)
  • natural growth period (such as puberty)
  • during pregnancy

In order to build lean mass, you must have an excess of calories:

energy in > energy out

That said, in order build muscle, you MUST tailor your diet for muscle building. That applies to women who want to “TONE”. You have to first BUILD the muscle in order to have a toned look.

Increase in CALORIES + lifting heavy = muscle mass

There are three different body types:

  • ectomorph (naturally thin)
  • mesomorph (naturally muscular)
  • endomorph (naturally broad and thick)

All three different body types need to eat and train a certain way in order to build muscle and lose fat.

The issue here is that there is only so much storage in a muscle. You need to lift heavy weight in order to increase the size of your muscle.

If, in the unlikely chance of too much muscle being built, all you would need to do is drop the weight, and take in less calories.


Resistance training is essential to a balanced and effective training program. You need to lift heavy in order to build muscle.

You cannot change your genetics to the degree to look like a man if you are a women unless you are “trying” to do so by working out at least 2-3 hours a day and lifting 20-30 sets per body part.  I am guessing you don’t do that? I didn’t think so, so flush that fear down the toilet.

Questions for Flavia?  Post them below.  Please keep your questions SPECIFIC to the topic of this article.  Thanks

–Flavia Del Monte
R.N., C.P.T., PN Certified

Join the discussion 23 Comments

  • Liz says:

    How many calories are usually burned during each of your training sessions?

  • Taylor says:

    This post is very usefull thx!

  • amzzzy says:

    Hi Flavia,

    Is there a way to calculate just how many calories are needed to build more muscle, yet maintain current weight? Hope that wasn’t a stupid question. :p I’m currently taking in roughly somewhere between 1600-1700 calories a day (I don’t necessarily count however. I’m following Isabel De Los Rios, Diet Solution Plan). 2 proteins + 2 carbs in the morning and then again at mid-morn snack/post workout; 4 proteins + 1 carb + 1 fat at lunch and 2 proteins + 1 carb at mid-day snack, and 4 proteins + 2 carbs + 2 fats at dinner. I weigh around 107-108lbs and am 5’2. I went the route of TOO much cardio to lose ninety pounds of weight and feel I’ve lost a lot of muscle in the process. As I get older (I’m 44), I realize how important that muscle is for me! What’s the best way for me to regain that muscle?

    Thanks as always for your articles and advice! 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      Try to add 300 more calories a day…150 before and 150 after your workouts….make them come from carbs….and make sure after your workout to drink a protein shake with the carb for your muscles to drive the carbs into the muscle to build 🙂

      • amzzzy says:

        Thanks! 🙂 I’ve actually been doing the opposite…OOPS! :p I’ve been drinking a protein shake with almond milk (tummy can’t handle cow’s milk), 1/4 fruit and flax seed BEFORE my workout! I’m never hungry first thing in the morning and I have a very small window of opportunity in the morning to workout before my son wakes up. I’ve been doing it this way for some time, because I have a hard time with acid reflux if I workout on a full belly. With my protein shake first thing after I wake, I can generally do my workout 15-20 minutes after drinking with no problems. My son usually wakes after my workout and I make us both breakfast (usually eggs with veggie and/or fruit…he’ll have toast, but I’m allergic to most grains. I will sometimes have a gluten free/wheat free pancake with my eggs, but generally don’t have grains, just load up on more fruits and veggies). Is this still doable? Life is what it is sometimes….I just have to make the best, I guess. 🙂

        Thanks again! Hope you guys had a fantastic time in San Diego! 🙂


        • Flavia says:

          Yes for sure….grains are actually what gets stored as fat as we tend to eat too much of them. When I work out with weights, I always have a meal or 3 in my system fisrt. I do morning cardio on an empty stomach but it did take some getting used too.

          • amzzzy says:

            I hear ya! I wish I had time to do my workout later in the day, but I’ve learned just getting it in when I can is what really matters. 🙂 So, do you think reversing my, what is essentially considered a mid-morning or post workout snack, before my workout (i.e. my protein shake) with my full breakfast after my workout will still work for me? As you can tell, I’m really trying!! I just want you to know I’m very serious about these workouts and really want to do whatever will help me get the most out of them! 😉

            Thanks, girl!

          • Flavia says:

            Yes, protein shake and then after your workout you can have your full breakfast! That would work well and of course do your workout when you can. The best plan is one that is implemented!

          • amzzzy says:

            Thanks! You’re the BEST!!! 😀

  • Lauren says:

    Flavia- After a few weeks of training on the program, I am definitely seeing results. However, I am noticing much more muscle gains in my arms and shoulders than I would like. I want to have defined arms (which is happening) without gaining a lot of muscle mass. My arms seem to be getting bigger! What gives? Should I be using lighter weights? Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated.

    • Flavia says:

      It’s is likely that you have to lose some fat in that area while there is muscle being gained. I would continue because once you lose all the fat you want…you will have amazing shapely muscle…but if you are really worried, you can drop weight. A lot of times when your body composition is changing, your body will look a little off in places but that just means you are re-shaping your body. It is hard to gain a lot of muscle so I think you should just keep on going and you will like your arms once all the fat comes off (even though you may think that you don’t have fat in your arms)

  • Raquel says:

    Flavia, I don’t get sore after working out my abs? While I’m working out I feel i’m working them hard, but never get sore, even days after. Is there a reason for this? I am doing your workouts which I love, but I’m worried that maybe I’m not engaging my abs the right way.

    • Flavia says:

      My abs barely get sore anymore…they are a tough muscle and can sustain a lot. As long as you completely fatigue them, you are good! If you need to, add another set or increase reps.

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Flavia, I finished the first 5 days and I am sore everywhere…LOVING IT!!! Anyways, I have a question for you.

    I get up at 4:30 am, get dressed on an empty stomach I do my entire workout , warm up, 3 sets of everything, cool down. Then about 20-45 minutes later I will eat my breakfast consisiting of 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oatmeal. Is this sufficient? Should I be having a protein shake with fruit instead of the eggs and oatmeal and have them as my 2nd meal of the day?

    What is the best thing should have for my recovery? I just didn’t want to go back to the Endurox R4 unless that is ok to have…I am sorry I am just confused since most meal plans show a pre and post workout meal for when you workout in the afternoon.

    Thanks again!! You are awesome!!!

    • Flavia says:

      Hi Kelly, I would focus on getting more protein post-workout. A shake with some carbs would be a great idea. I will sometimes have oatmeal with the protein shake added to it, like cereal. Fruit is ok here but because this is post-workout, you want to have sufficent carbs and proteins to repair. Carbs and Protein for recovery…Endurox R4, I don’t know much of but whole foods are always best. Protein shakes are just really quick and easy!

  • Kelly says:

    Thank you for your quick response!!

  • debbie says:

    I have a question. I like a nice fit and muscular body. And I know that muscle makes you more compact and holds everything tight. In your workout video you talk about the V taper, but when you work your lats your shirts get tight under the arms and across the back. The same when you buld your thighs, you get that nice cut at the top of the thigh but what do you do to get your jeans to fit

    You can get bigger but then that defeats the purpose of all your hard work. So please give some ideas.



    • Flavia says:

      I like when my jeans are tight around my thighs…if they are muscular. It is hard to do and you have to do it with intension. It’s hard for most women to get musular legs so it is unlikely that you will build enough to make your jeans tight, uless you have been doing this for years…I am just starting to do this and I love the way it looks. It really is personal. If you don’t like the bigger muscles there, just lift with lighter weights…if you see that you are building too much, cut back on the weights…again this is hard to do!

  • Heidi says:

    Just curious…how heavy of weights are you using in your videos? Should I be doing as heavy as I can stand on each exersize? I try to use the heaviest I can handle for each move, and I can see a real change is my muscles, especially my arms and shoulders.
    Also, (I cant remember the name of it right now)..the move where one leg is on the bench and you lean forward with a straight back and bend all the way down, then back up (with the bar)….I love this move cuz I feel it is really targeting my glutes and legs, but my lower back always hurts when Im toward the end of the reps. It also hurts the next day. Is that a good thing? Does it mean my back is getting worked in ways it hasnt been or am I doing the move wrong or are my weights too heavy?

    thank you,

    • Flavia says:

      If you see a change, keep it going. You should be challenging your body every week. That does happen, goodmorning do target you hamstrings and glutes but when they fatigue, your back will kick in. Make sure you contract your abdominals to protect the lower back. Strengthen your core by doing a lot of abdominal work is vital too!.

  • Chelsea says:

    Hi Flavia,
    Im so glad I purchased your full body licious, love the work outs. So my question is I’m currently 193 pounds (88kg) and would like to be around 140 pounds (65kg). To lose all that weight should I just be doing the full body licious program which take me about and hour in the gym, or should I be doing some cardio exercise with it also, and if I have to do cardio how long should I be doing it for. Xx

    • Flavia says:

      Thanks Chelsea, after you have been doing FBL for a couple weeks and feel comfortable adding some cardio, go ahead and add in 2-3 HIIT 2-4 times per week. Start slow and work your way up as you progress!

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