Can Heavy Weight-Training Benefit Men and Women?

Yes! Despite the common misconception that heavy weight-training is only for men and/or extreme body builders, this type of resistance training can help both men and women build muscles and increase bone mineral density.

After more than two decades in the fitness industry, I have assisted many men and women with resistance exercise plans. Often, I’ve found the women to be concerned about bulking up too much or they say, “I am afraid of looking like a man!”

Let me alleviate this concern now by stating to women that heavy weight-training will NOT make you look like a man. You can’t build as much muscle if testosterone levels are not high enough. As women, you do not need to fear “bulking up” because you have far less testosterone in your bodies. Instead of becoming bulky, women who lift weights become leaner and more defined. So, if you are looking to develop greater strength, lose body fat and reshape your physique, you should definitely consider heavy weight-training. Although multiple repetitions using a lighter weight increases muscle endurance, it doesn’t build lean muscle mass or create definition the way heavy weights do. These are both good things for men and women.

Heavy weight-training, also known as high intensity-low volume training, is incredibly beneficial if done safely and correctly. This type of training not only facilitates growth of lean muscle, a critical element to increased metabolism and fat burning, but it also stimulates increased density to the bones (more calcium and more stability). A heavy weight-training workout can be described, generally, as follows:

5–8 repetitions at 75%–85% of the one-rep maximum weight that you can lift on a particular exercise

For example, let’s say your one-rep maximum for the bench press is 100 lbs. 75% of that is 75 lbs., and 85% is 85 lbs. So, for heavy weight-training, you should do 5–8 repetitions of 75 to 85 lbs. These 5–8 repetitions should be performed in 3- to 4-set intervals with 2 to 3 minutes of rest between each set.

I recommend that both men and women, who have been involved in consistent (at least three times/week) resistance exercise for at least three consecutive months, add the following routine into their plan twice per week:

Bench Press 3–4 sets 5–8 reps
Lat Pulldowns (front) 3–4 sets 5–8 reps
Leg Press 3–4 sets 5–8 reps

(All of these are to be done at 75% to 85% of your one-rep max.)

Mix this type of training into your regular regimen for one month at a time. And then take a month off (return to higher repetition, lower weight training) before returning to the heavier training.

There is no need for women to fear “bulking up.” It is physiologically impossible for a woman to get as big as a man by lifting heavy weights, unless she is taking hormones or other chemicals. The only thing to “fear” is all the attention you might get for being leaner, stronger and more defined. I’m positive you will enjoy the amazing benefits you will experience from heavy weight-training.

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All About Mannatech

    Excellent article on weight training excecises