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Why don't Girls lift like Guys?

I know there are obvious differences and all (like general strength and ability to put on muscle mass), but guys are always doing squats and bench press and bent over row and military press and so forth - these are SO basic in weight lifting and extremely effective for gaining muscle.
Now I know you ladies do weight training, why don't women seem to base their strength training on these basic compound lifts that are the cornerstone of bodybuilding the way guys always do?
It seems similar to skipping protein powder as a basic supplement and only using NOS or glutamine instead...

No offense intended at all, just want to know...

(and I know we are all over that lifting will make girls look bulky thing right?)

Tue. Apr 1, 2:05pm

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I don't think everyone is "over" thinking that lifting will make them bulky, even though they should be.

I am female and I focus about 40 percent of my workout routine on weights. I lift heavy weights (at home) and I love it. Too many women ignore it, or say "I'll lose the fat first, and then start lifting to tone up." Surprise! It doesn't work like that. You need to keep adding muscle to fuel your metabolism and re-shape your body, and prevent the weight from coming right back on when you stop dieting and doing step aerobics. I digress...

Because of the body images portrayed in the media, I think men focus on the muscles they want to be big, and women focus on the muscles they want to look good in a bikini. Men want strong impressive chests and biceps. I actually feel like a lot of men who lift over-focus on their chest and arms and end up with tiny chicken legs.

Women want flat abs, lean, waif-like arms, round (but not big) butts, long, thin legs, small hips... you get the idea. The weight-routines I frequently see in women's magazines focus on abs, buns and thighs, with a few bicep curls and tricep dips here and there.

For all the women out there, I recommend the FIRM videos (older ones, from the mid- to late-90s), which I think are an excellent mix of core strength moves and the focused training to get a "bikini" body. There are tons of squats, leg press, push-ups and overhead press, mixed with lunges, dips, hip abductions, bicep curls, French press, kick-backs, lat row, chest fly, shoulder work, and abs. They also mix in some aerobic intervals which help burn fat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 2:39 PM

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Women do really still believe that, crazy as it seems. That's why you see women sitting on the "thigh master" machine with 10 lbs on it, flapping their legs so fast they might fly away.

Plus, I think many women just start lifting based on what they see other women in the gym doing rather than getting real advice/input on it. I used to think a little bit of resistance was good because I didn't want to get all Arnold-like hahaha! It wasn't until someone showed me proper weight and form that I saw a huge change in my weight loss and body shape!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 2:44 PM

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2:44 - lol - flapping away on the thigh machine! That made me laugh.

There are lots of (lean) women who take the weight lifting class at our gym, but you rarely see that many women on the floor doing weights. I think it might be intimidating for some women. I only started doing weights in the last 5 years (and I just look back on those cardio years and shake my head! ) but the idea of working out among the guys was very nerve wracking. Why?? I have no idea!! Probably just afraid of looking foolish trying something new. Now, I have no problem with it and I love the results!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 2:50 PM

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Maybe my gym is different. I think most of the women who work out in my gym are VERY serious and do the same types of exercises as the serious men. There are several women who have fabulous bodies -- I love to watch them lift weights and see their muscles.

Of course there are other women who are less serious, but then there are also lots of men who are not so serious, too.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 2:54 PM

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very interesting...thanks...

I just love basic lifts and they seem to be by far the most effective, I will do something like the below and put on 5 pounds of muscle fast:

Quad Ext 10 – 8 – 6
Squats 10 – 8 – 6
Dead-lift 10 – 8 – 6
Smith Calf raise 10 – 8 – 6

Dumbbell Press 10 – 8 – 6
Machine flye 10 – 8 – 6
Skull crusher 10 – 8 – 6
Front, side, & rear
delt raise superset 10 – 8 – 6

Bent over row 10 – 8 – 6
Roman chair 10 – 8 – 6
Preacher curl 10 – 8 – 6
Hanging raise 12 ea.

So it seems learning the form, being intimidated by the "weight room" and being encouraged to do these is the main problem ?


Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:04 PM

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Probably. That and women seem to just love the cardio. And I can't tell you how many women friends of mine still talk about being afraid of bulking up. ARGH!

Are you on a mission to get women in the weight room, OP? ;)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:07 PM

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3:07 Ha ha, no I am just a nice guy and hate to see wasted effort in the gym,
I used to coach girl's gymnastics and we were very careful to train the athletes with the best techniques for performance - most of what we did was similar to weight lifting in a way and so when I see all the women in my gym sticking to weird isolation moves and pilates and stuff - I wonder what advise is being thrown around.
Gymnasts are usually quite lean and muscular because of all the the careful anaerobic training.
Besides, I just like to share the fun of finding something that works well.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:23 PM

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Most women are in the gym to keep their weight under control. The best way to incorporate weights into a routine with that goal in mind is the light weights/many reps approach like you get in the dumbell/bodybar sculpting classes.

So maybe the question should also be - why don't men lift weights like women? I love when guys do those classes because they pick 10 pounders instead of 5 pounders and then have all kinds of shame issues when they can't finish the set.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:29 PM

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I'm a female and I LOVE lifting weights. I currently bench 125 pounds and my legs are killer for muscle. I do, however, have a layer of fat over the muscle from having kids, life, etc. Trying to get rid of that. Until then, I was told to do 60% cardio and 40% muscle building, just to help burn calories faster.

And when I can't get to the gym to lift weights, I make sure I do my resistence bands for strength.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:36 PM

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What I am saying is - go ahead and do your "light weights/many reps approach" (say 12 reps max though) but if you actually want to gain muscle why not do what works for that and not waste your time. If you did 3 sets of 12 reps of squats you would gain a lot more muscle in your quads than ANY other way.

And yes I will admit I did the 10 pound weight and can't finish thing once. Those classes are hard - it's true - But I don't want to be "toned" - I want to be muscular and lean

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:47 PM

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I'm a girl. Even though I love muscle on women (think Jessica Biel), I actually hate weight I take cardio classes at my school and it includes all over strength training. In addition, I also lift heavy weights (10 pounds) at home (although I only focus on upper body). I do bicep curls, shoulder presses, bent over rows, chest presses, tricep dips...the basics..although I really feel like I need to change it up to get more results (then again I have fat covering my muscles) and so my body doesn't get bored of the same routine. I really like checking out my muscles in my back and shoulders lol.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 3:56 PM

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On the 3:04 post -

I think just the thought of *gasp* putting on FIVE pounds really scares women. About 95 percent of dieters are so focused on the number on the scale. Some people are starting to pay closer attention to body fat percentage and measurements, but everyone really expects a machine-like weight loss where you can get on the scale every day and see the number go down in measured increments. When the number is up, it MUST be because you ate an extra slice of bread yesterday. When the number is down, it MUST be because you did an extra 10 minutes of cardio. It just doesn't work like that.

I've finally learned to weigh myself once a week, and pay close attention to how a certain pair of pants fit on a weekly basis. I weigh a pound more, but I need a belt today! What gives? How can I rectify this dichotomy without going insane?!? ;)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 4:02 PM

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12 reps is not "many" - that's normal for heavy weight training unless you're doing some kind of pyramid plan. "Many" means one, maybe two sets of 15-30 reps.

Why would I want to gain muscle in my quads? The average woman tends to have overdeveloped quads compared to her hamstrings, and needs to work on keeping them in balance to avoid knee and hip problems.

I personally do both kinds of weight workouts to keep my muscles from getting too used to a routine. I don't care one way or the other about gaining muscle, I just want to be structurally sound and strong and injury-free when I try new things, which I could probably achieve with yoga (which is body-resistance training, not just stretching) if I had the patience.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 4:21 PM

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3:47 - I don't have the patience for yoga either. But I should do it, because it would be an additional way to prevent injury. It just feels like a waste of time compared to a solid 45 min run or squatting until I can't stand up. ;)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 4:35 PM

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If you don't have the patience for yoga it's a sign that yoga would probably be really, really good for you! ;)

Try 75+ minutes of Vinyasa yoga - you'll sweat your cajones off and it will feel like you just did 100 squats and tricep dips.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 6:57 PM

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I also think some women are hesitant/put off by the weight area because it can seem like a bit of a boy's club. You have to have a bit of a thick skin because there's a lot of F bombs being dropped in that area. Some giant guy with a mullet, tank top, and those parachutey 1985 tiger stripe pants talking how he f'ing did this and f'ing did that can be a great deterrant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 7:11 PM

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I've always asked myself the same question. Until I read: The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler and it introduces lifting to women. It's a great book. I finally feel confident enough to hit the weights especially since I hate regular cardio.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008, 8:11 PM

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3:56 here

7:11, personally I don't care about curse words...but since I look so young for my age (I'm in my early 20s), petite, and look so innocent and weak (even though really I'm stronger than most other females...never underestimate a small person!), I'm scared those men will make comments and give me looks like "what is she doing here" sort of thing.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008, 1:28 AM

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I still think that woman believe that if they lift weights they'll get bulky (which is stupid)

I used to lift weights, but I'm currently on restrictive exercise program due to medical problems. I lifted heavy weights and I never got bulky.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008, 1:33 AM

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I'm a over 50 woman who started weight training at home last summer. I liked the idea that if I lift heavy, I don't have to do so many sets and reps to get results. I got a set of barbells and dumbells and a bench and I workout at home. I probably don't push myself as hard as I might with a trainer and all, but I love the progress I've made. Right now I'm regularly squating 100lbs. SQUATS RULE! I eventually want to squat my weight.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008, 10:08 AM

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Old Topic, But...

I know this is an old topic, but I do lift like a guy...
I don't do the same amount of weight, don't get me wrong, but I do give 110%!

Thursday, February 25, 2010, 5:21 PM

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convince me again please....

so i read the whole thread, and i'm sorry to bring this topic up again and beat it to death but thanks for all the posts so far.

i have always been an active female and am working to lose those last 15 lbs to get down to a size 4 again, and i'm very good about getting in some type of exercise at least 5 days a week. including cardio (jogging), yoga, and recently some strength training with a weighted ball/body weight exercises.

is it 'normal' or possible to build muscle before losing the fat? i'm just curious because i have been working out more, and i feel like i'm building muscle (as in stronger) but looking more 'bulky.' i'm thinking and hoping that the reason why i think i look bulky and or 'feel bulky' (in the sense that i swear my pants legs are feeling tighter) is because maybe i'm building muscle first with the weight training before i'm losing the fat, covering the muscle? please tell me this is the case; i'm getting discouraged from lifting/weight training and feeling like i need to abandon it and put in twice as much time on the treadmill.

-slightly discouraged

Sunday, February 28, 2010, 5:12 AM

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Make sure your diet is in check too...that's 80% of it. Eat clean and high fiber/water foods to keep you full. I'm also in your position too- I have 15 pounds left to reach my goal. Lost 10 pounds and been maintaining it the last several months because I've been surpassing my calories (2000-2500+)....gonna stick to 1800 for now (along with my work outs) and see what happens in the next few weeks.Trying not to focus on the number on the scale, and just focus on how my body looks and feels and how clothes fit. Good luck!

Sunday, February 28, 2010, 1:39 PM

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