The Myth of the Fear of Getting "Too Big"

I did a rather informal poll on my Livejournal to check on something.

Just about every site I see on women’s weight training is shouting out, “No, no, you don’t need to be afraid of getting too big!”


The poll asked if the women who read my LJ strength trained. If they did, what sort did they do. If they did not, did they feel like they should, didn’t because they weren’t interested, didn’t because they were afraid of getting too big, or if they had a medical condition that contraindicated it. (Yes, there are some).

About 45% the women who responded do strength train.

Of the 65% that did not, about 65% of those felt like they really should, a the rest said they weren’t interested with one for whom it’s medically contradindicated.

Not one person expressed a fear of getting too big as a reason not to strength train!

It might be that my results are skewed. My LJ readers are mostly an erudite lot, and few of them buy into what I’d call the classical “Cosmo” stereotypes.

Still, it’s interesting that on most sites about women’s weight/strength training, there’s the obligatory explanation that women don’t have enough testosterone to build big muscles. I’ve never run across anyone in the gym telling me not to lift heavy because I “might get too big”, though I’m already fat, so maybe that’s it. In fact, if there’s more than five people in the weight room, chances are good that I’m not the only woman. One of my fellow swimmers is also a faithful weight lifter. I do mostly see very fit women (fit as opposed to necessarily lean. I mean strong and good muscle tone) in the weight room, but not always. Sometimes a woman will come in with a trainer and once it was even a woman who had to use a walker. Well, she used to use a walker, anyway. She’s stopped. I figure she was rehabbing some injury or surgery.

But there are definitely plenty of women who are weight training – call it 40% of the people I see in the weight room.

Now, the spinning classes and the cardio room seems to be much more popular, but it’s entirely possible that plenty of the women who lift just are on an opposite cycle from me and lift on days I’m in the pool, so I’m not seeing them.

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