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Will Lifting Heavy make Women Bulky?

Now as a trainer, Females often ask me; “Will I get bulky if I lift heavy weights?” And the simple answer is NO! It’s very hard for a women to put on masses of muscle mass. The reason for this is due to the different levels or particular hormones in Males and Females. The hormones involved are the human growth hormone (HGH), Testosterone and Oestrogen. So what are these different hormones?

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

The first hormone in question is the Human Growth Hormone. This is produced and then secreted from cells in the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. It’s sent in pulses controlled by the hypothalamus gland that in turn sends signals to either release or shut off these pulses depending on whether it’s needed.

This hormone, hence the name, essentially allows things to grow through different mechanisms such as increased protein synthesis, increased sarcomere growth and also increased lipolysis, just to name a few.

Now we know that growth hormone initiates growth in the body but what can help increase this production of the hormone?

  • The right amount of sleep
  • Regular intense exercise
  • Vitamin B
  • Fasting
  • Lowering blood sugar levels


This hormone is widely known as the ‘male sex hormone’ that is produced mainly in the testes, however; women do in fact produce small amounts in their ovaries. Testosterone is released by the hypothalamus into the blood stream that causes lots of physiological actions such as;

  • Increased sex drive
  • Hair growth mainly in the pubic area and chest
  • Increase in muscle protein synthesis
  • Increase in muscle mass
  • Increased basal metabolic rate
  • Decreased hair growth on top of the head
  • Enlargement of the ‘Adam’s Apple’ causing deepening of the voice
  • Increased aggression

Now a lot of these actions are predominantly seen in men due to the increased levels of Testosterone within the body, causing them to be extremely different from females. For example; women have a higher pitched voice and don’t normally display or grow a beard!


The final hormone to talk about is Oestrogen, which is widely known as the female sex hormone. This stimulates the start of puberty in women and promotes development in the female reproductive system. Again, whilst Oestrogen is present in both sexes like Testosterone, it’s the complete opposite and is seen in much greater levels in women than in men due to the functions that we’d normally see in the female sex, such as;

  • Increase fat store
  • Increase metabolism
  • Thickening of the vaginal wall
  • Increase vaginal lubrication
  • Increase uterine growth
  • Increases sex drive

Men Vs Women

Women actually produce more human growth hormone than men. Weird don’t you think? The reason being is due to the amount of oestrogen in their body, and the different pattern of secretion of the growth hormone compared to males. Men tend to produce more of this hormone at night and less during the day, where as studies have shown that women secrete more than two times the amount of growth hormone during the day.

So I hear you ask; How can men be normally larger and have greater muscle mass than women if females have more human growth? Growth hormone stimulates growth doesn’t it? Well, no. It doesn’t quite work like that …

The answer is all down to the different levels of each hormone. Men build large bulky muscle easier than women because they have greater quantities of testosterone compared to females. This, mixed with small amounts of growth hormone allows for the larger production of muscle growth and therefore making it easier for men to gain large amounts of muscle mass. Women however, possess large amounts of oestrogen and human growth hormone yet reduced quantities of testosterone restricting muscle building conditions and therefore making it very hard build large bulky muscle. This shows us that the main ingredient needed in large muscle building is Testosterone which women simply lack; therefore they are unable to achieve bulky muscle gain.

Well there you have it … Next time you hear that lifting heavy weights will make a Woman hench – just laugh, pick up that barbell and set a new personal best.


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