“I don’t want to lift because it will make me bulky”

This common misconception by women that lifting weights will “make you bulky” is just that, a misconception. However, it fitness in very well with what manufacturers of ‘cardio’ equipment would like us to believe. Therefore it makes sense for the big gyms that spend hundreds of thousand of Euros in their fancy equipment to make us all believe that we need cardio everyday to get into shape.


We are all familiar with the expression that “muscle weighs more than fat”. The difference between strength training and cardio training is that strength training increases your body’s total muscle mass while decreasing your bodyfat %. Steady-state (same pace) aerobic training on the other hand can increase fat stores and carbohydrates stores especially If is it matched with a calorie deficit diet (which most of us ladies are divils for!!). In this way, it is not surprising that hours of steady state aerobic training does not allow you achieve that killer body you always wanted because it does not stimulate the same type of fat loss strength training does. Sound familiar?  If you are a female who is sick and tired of doing hours of cardio and not getting that toned physique that you crave and yearn for keep reading to find the solution to your problems!!

Firstly, I openly admit to being a culprit of the above expression in previous years. When I walked into my gym I would head straight for the cardio section without thinking twice. The idea of me even thinking of lifting weights would have been bizzare, not to mention the intimidation I would feel walking down into the “testosterone” section of the gym!! I would go hell for leather on the cross trainer or treadmill for 50minutes and then wreck myself a little bit more on the spin bike or rower. After perspiring my body weight I would then hit the pool for a few laps just to get those killer toned arms and back I always craved…. But those killer arms and body never arrived no matter how long I spent on the treadmill or how many lengths of the pool I swam! It was super frustrating and a buzz kill to say the least!


After years of frustration, S&C was introduced to be by a close friend. I was cautious and sceptical about trying it out at the start as I had the common female illusion that “lifting weights will make me bulky”. This notion was quickly banished once I started to see the results. After just a few weeks of strength training my physique was toned, lean and to top it all off I was stronger than I had ever been. Any back pain or muscle niggles that I had been experiencing before had been significantly reduced. Friends and family were telling me how healthy and fit I looked and I felt more confident than I had in a long time.

Strength training Vs aerobic training?

It’s simple, there are three benefits of Strength training from a weight loss perspective. Unlike Aerobic training the benefits of an intense strength session goes beyond the actual session.

In the short term, you burn calories in the strength session just from moving around and being active.

Medium term, your body will begin to recover from the strength session. This involves your metabolism to go into over-drive trying to repair the muscle fibres, resulting in a raised metabolism for up to 72 hours after your session meaning you are burning calories during this window!!

In the long term, you are building more muscle and reducing your Body fat %, essentially building yourself a bigger engine which means you are burning more fuel ie calories and fat!

Just to put things into perspective. Rachel Cosgrove of Results Fitness in the States trained for an ironman. She worked her way up to 20 hours of endurance training a week. Over 7 months she calculated that she trained for 374 hours. WEIGHT LOSS: 5 lbs. She also admits that she was feeling flabby, soft in the midline of her body and undefined like she had never felt before. After achieving her Ironman, she removed all endurance exercise from her training aiming to loss fat. Her training included 3 strength sessions a week and interval training every other day. This amounted to 6hours of training a week. After 8 weeks of this training she had lost 15lbs of fat and her body was looking lean and defined again.


The notion that lifting weight will make you “big” like a guy is physically impossible for females due to the differences in testosterone levels. Female bodies are genetically not equipped to make that happen. Female bodybuilders are not only likely to be pharmaceutically enhanced but also train in isolation, meaning they train each muscle separately. At ACLAI Health and Performance, this is not our aim and so all our training programmes require the interaction of several muscle groups all at once.

So ladies, if this is not living proof that endurance exercise is ineffective for fat loss and strength training is effective, I don’t know what is! Why keep slogging away on the treadmill for hours a week with minimal to no results when you can get the results you want by trying out strength training and achieve those results you always wanted.

This article is by Coach Edel Roche, who is an intern sports and exercise scientist at ACLAÍ Health and Performance.