“Lifting Weights Won’t Make You Look Manly” – Sandra Okeke

Lifting weights is the best thing I’ve ever done for my body.

The idea that a girl starts looking like a man as soon as she picks up a dumbbell scares a lot of women away from the gym.

This is probably why I see women perform a 30-minute sprint on the stationary treadmill/ bicycle or an aerobic activity, and call it a day.

99% of my clients are women and the look on their faces when I ask them to do certain weighted exercises is hilarious! One of my female clients told me she wouldn’t do a cable machine lat pull down (back exercise) because it was ‘a man’s exercise’. I’d never been so dumbfounded in my life!

Now, let me break it down. The science behind fitness and our bodies makes it almost impossible for a woman to have excessive muscle to the point where she looks like a stereotypical female bodybuilder solely because she lifts weights. Here are the reasons why.


Both men and women produce testosterone which is essential for hormonal balance and body functionality but males have much higher levels of testosterone than females.

Testosterone is responsible for the masculine secondary sex characteristics like excess facial hair, deeper voice, and increase in muscle mass. A woman’s body is usually incapable of producing enough testosterone to enable her look like a man. So it will take a lot of years, a LOT of heavy weights, and a lot of steroid-based drugs to push a woman’s body over her natural limit.

Resistance Training and Hormonal Adaptations

Because females have less free testosterone than males at rest, any increase is not significant enough to allow for muscle hypertrophy to the extent of a male.


Another secret lies within the realm of nutrition. In order to gain substantial amounts of muscle, you need to be eating a substantial amount of food. Because females are typically smaller than males in bone mass, we require less overall calories to meet our energy needs.

If a male and a female were put in the same nutrition and training regime, the female would most likely gain a large amount of unwanted fat.

Weightlifting actually makes your muscles STRONGER, not necessarily BIGGER

If you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories than you are burning every day, sure, you could get bigger. This is why female body builders exist. They do exactly that: BODY BUILDING.

However, if you pick up heavy things, and eat caloric-deficit foods, your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will get that “toned” look that you’re after. And the more muscle, the higher your metabolism.

Masculinization in females does NOT occur as a result of [heavy] weight training, but rather because of excess androgenic hormones (testosterone) coupled with the correct stimulus for muscle growth (chronic resistance training) and diet directed at muscle growth.

The ‘masculine’ female bodybuilders usually depicted in media achieve their physique by taking steroids in order to increase their muscle mass and size. The females who are not doing this can lift as hard and as heavy as they want, and will come nowhere close to looking like a man.

So ladies don’t be afraid of going to the gym to lift weights. You will tone up your body and still look sexy as ever.

Live your best life and remember to stay SOfit!


This article was written by Sandra Okeke; connect with her on IG here

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