Building lean muscle mass

Feb 10, 2010

Question of the Month:
My wife thinks she’ll get big and bulky if she starts lifting weights with me. How do I convince her otherwise?

Over the last few years, the benefits of strength training have been highly publicized, and weight training has experienced a huge resurgence.  Unfortunately, many women are concerned about starting a weight-training program because of the fear of becoming big and bulky.
Fortunately, you can calm her fears.  Unless your wife is trying to get big and bulky, she is not going to.  There are two main reasons that she will not turn into a brawny muscle model:  physiology and focus.  First of all, women simply do not have the proper hormonal balance to put on large amounts of muscle tissue.  And, despite the physiology required to grow in large proportions, it takes a serious amount of determination to get big and bulky.

Gaining large amounts of muscle mass requires focus, determination and a great deal of time over many years.  Simply picking up some weights here and there will not result in huge muscle gains.  It is what you do and how you do it that determines how your body will adapt to weight training.   Weight training should be designed specifically for the goal of the individual.  Some common goals for weight training are strength, hypertrophy – growth in muscle size – and muscular endurance.  Generally speaking, a circuit-type exercise focusing on the entire body with higher repetition ranges a few times a week will work for toning, or tightening up the muscles and making them look more slender.

Remind your wife that weight training is an integral part of healthy living and the benefits significantly outweigh any detriment.  In particular, women benefit greatly from strength exercises by sparking an increase in bone density.  This increase in bone density may decrease the risk of osteoporosis.  Here is another one that she might like: Strength training can increase resting metabolic rate, which will aid in loosing body fat more quickly.  How’s that for a benefit?  That should help her overcome her fears.

Anthony G. Barnes is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Chester and holds a degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science.  To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at anthony.barnes @


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