T Nation

Few Women in the Weight Room?


Why do I see so few of them at the gym? Almost all of them are either on the elliptical machines or in the planned classes (yoga, tai bo, etc.). I used to think that it was just my gym, but I've been to several and it always seems to be the same: I'll see 1 or 2 women there, and I can tell that they're the really dedicated type. Compare that to the men, where you see all sorts of physiques in the weight room.

Seeing as many of you that read the Powerful Women forums fall into the dedicated type and understand the benefits of using weights, why does there still seem to be a stigma attached to it? This is 2010, not 1970. Do most women still really think that lifting any sort of weight will turn them into a muscular beast? Weight lifting has incredible benefits and can give you any kind of body you can imagine.

Keep in mind I'm not trying to knock yoga or tai bo, which are excellent exercise programs. But to think that a good portion of women cut out all weights entirely because of some mysterious fear of bulking is baffling to me.

So for those that read this forum: am I blowing this out of proportion, or does that irrational stigma still exist? If so, do you see the situation improving in the future or getting worse?


The stigma still exists. Which is why I suck at personal training. Women don't want to lift no heavy ass weights :wink:

They want to have cookie cutter programs that will force them to do shit that makes them feel like they are really accomplishing something; when in reality, they aren't. In my view, it will only get worse. Then again, I'm in a bad mood today and not feeling optimistic about anything.



MiMD is right. Most women who have asked me for help are either lazy and want something easy and want to know if cardio will make them 'tone' Or if they are willing to go into the weight room they don't want to increase the weight they use, afraid that they will look like a man. Even when you explain to them the benefits and that they could't possibly look masculine they still don't get it.
I once treid to take a woman through my upper body routine for one day and she got mad at me and said that it was too much for one day and though it should be spread out over a week.
Not everyone is really into it like most of the people in this thread, their loss :slight_smile:


My own experience was that weight training was foreign to me and was very intimidating. I didn't know what to do and was frightened of being laughed at. It took a long time and a lot of courage to go the the 'men's' part of the gym. I suspect that attitude is more common that you think.

I know it certainly looked like a lot more fun than the bullshit cardio and machines but it took a phenomenal level of boredom to give me the courage.


Long time since I've posted anything serious here, but as a PT I'm inclined to think like Mom-In-MD: women, and some men too, btw, just want a machine-only training with 3 x 15 because they don't want to look too manly (or in men's case: they don't want to look like Arnold, because they build muscle easily, you know)

This is why I'm actually thinking about leaving the field to garden-variety trainers and pep-talk professionals who can make these under-achievers feel good about lifting pink dumbbells. Ok, don't wan't to sound mean about it although I may end up doing just that, but it's so hard for young guys to get in decent shape, I truly don't understand why middle-aged men and women think they're gonna blow up out of proportions with a 3-day/week, semi-decent strenght traning with ESW thrown in for good measure.

Of course, modern standards of what's fashionable body-wise is in big part to blame: emaciated waives and skinny bags of bones are what's in. Hard to go against that when a 5-10 lbs of muscle gain has them convinced they're gonna look like She-Hulk or Arnold


I'm really trying to be a good example..that way if a woman says, 'well, I don't want to get bulky,' I can say, 'Do I look 'bulky,' to you??!' You don't just WAKE UP one morning with bulging muscles.

Unfortunately I suck at closing the deal, and I refuse to talk someone into something they don't really want. I can count on my fingers and toes how many clients I've had in the last year. And some of them ended up with the 'popular,' trainer who makes them do stupid shit. I refuse!!

Sometimes I wish I worked at a all MENS gym.(is there such a thing?) :slightly_smiling: At least you don't have to talk them into doing meaningful work with weights! Well, at least 95% of them.


It's partly stasis -- if it's all men, most women don't want to do it. I would venture to guess that women who got into weights were already used to being "one of the boys" in some way. I know we have a couple scientists and tech people in PW, someone in the military, a firefighter... in other words, women who don't mind being the only girl in the room sometimes.

Partly it's just that the places where you can get the information that weights are good for you are often male-oriented resources. T-Nation, despite this great section, is named Testosterone after all. I first heard about weight training from a geeky internet forum. If you get your exercise info from Self, you're never going to hear about this.

There's the "I'll get bulky" thing. There's also the "I'll get injured" thing, which in my experience is more often the excuse I hear. Unless they've been competitive athletes, a lot of girls hesitate to strain physically because they think they'll hurt themselves. They just aren't physically ambitious. And it's really hard to explain to them, if they don't already have the idea. Real life conversation. Me, grinning: "Hey, I just set a bench PR!" Friend: "And that's good WHY?" Well, because I want to outdo myself. But to someone who just doesn't care, it's all sort of pointless.


I like the fact that the serious equipment is usually open at my gym, which translates into little or no waiting time for me. I think other women see me lifting and get worried that they'll bulk up and look like me if they lift heavy weights.


I can see why they might have that fear. You're so big you practically have a dick. I got so big, I had to start training in my garage.

To Alisa: the explanation of the bench PR applies to many aspects of life. If you aren't into it, you may not get it. If you have to ask the question, there's a good chance you won't understand the answer. It isn't just women either. Watch Youtube videos of powerlifters (both men and women). Many of the comments are along the lines of 'What's the point of that?' Whenever anyone brings up the functional crapolla of lifting heavy I just ask them how functional a volleyball spike or a basketball dunk is. It isn't. You do it because you can and you take joy in it.


It is horrible, but yes the stigma still exists.
And yes, to completely agree with snapper... Usually if I personally try to convince a female to come work out with me, they will say something along the lines of "Oh god no, then i will be all bulky and manly like you"
People really don't understand that I look the way I do, because I TRAIN TO LOOK THIS WAY.
"bulky" muscles don't just appear over night. I lift heavy. A lot. And eat in such a manner to build muscle mass. I think it just goes back to most people not having the desire to become educated because all they know is the stigma and stereotypes. Also, people are lazy.
Oh, and the elliptical phenomena. I fucking hate those machines, but for some reason, most uneducated women think they are gods send for their ass and thighs. wtf?
Squatting is my non god send for my ass and thighs.
But hey, to each their own, right?



Well, Mel. I was joking. I only weigh 110 lb. My sense of humor is often lost on others, although O caught it. Nope. I don't have a dick, by the way.

I train as heavy as I can handle and eat a ton and take creatine and still am small. And the original point of this thread, I believe, was that heavy lifting does not turn one into a manly beast.


^ Thats because you don't add smileys :slightly_smiling:


Smileys turn you into a manly beast?? Fuck! No wonder I'm still skinny.


I'm not really the emoticon type of girl. More a weight room type of girl.


I've only been at my gym for a month and seen very few women. One of them is this girl who does all Olympic lifts. She's strong and I think works at the gym. There is this older woman who is built like Kimba and she is a serious lifter, knows her way around the gym. I'm almost always the only one there though, when we go. I don't know the other times of the day.


I think the 20 somethings are more inclined to be cardio bunnies. I think a smart trainer would find women in their 40s and 50s, show them a transformation similar to mine (I do NOT look like a dude but lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle) and tell them I do heavy squats and deads, etc. And I was able to give up medication which the baby boomers should be VERY interested in because they are at that age and are FAT and falling apart. It's a marketing dream. MiM is a great example of a younger woman making a big transformation. She lost a ton of weight and she is ALL girl (curvy, very small waisted and strong!). I am the only woman at my gym in the "boys" area deadlifting. That's okay with me tho :wink:


smileys showing humor or not.


I have no fear of "getting bulky" because that's not my goal. People, women, need to understand that you get out of it what you put in it. IF you want to be a powerlifter, you'll end up looking like a powerlifter. IF you want to lose weight and gain some definition, then you will. The people that look bulky or manly or whatever LIVE lifting weights, it IS their life. They eat, drink, sleep weight lifting. If you just cut out soda and maybe reduce the amount of bad food you eat AND weight lift/do cardio you won't end up all "bulky".


Snapper's got a penis, I seen it.


heard she broke it and needed PT...