One of the questions I receive the most often in regards to P90X, or just weight lifting in general, is whether or not it will cause women to ‘bulk’ up, and suddenly develop large, unsightly muscles. There seems to be a real concern that picking up a free weight will cause veins to writhe into view across your biceps like earthworms, will cause your shoulders to broaden, your voice to deepen, your back to grow huge and your legs turn into tree trunks. For some reason, many women fear this and so stick to low impact cardio and the machines in the gym, endlessly repeating the same workouts while eying the squat cage with fear. So let’s take a look at this a little closer. Will lifting weights make women bulk up?

First off, let me just say that there is nothing wrong in the first place with achieving a muscular, athletic look. Many women actively seek to develop their musculature along these lines, and end up looking stunning, ripped and absolutely gorgeous. So, this is a question of personal aesthetics, not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. That said, many women seem to fear lifting free weights due to the men they see lurking amongst the dumbbell racks and the power cages, grunting and roaring like gorillas amongst banana trees. They see those huge monsters, benching 400lbs, squatting 450lbs, deadlifting the world, vast machines of muscle and veins and sweat and testosterone, and decide to stick over by the treadmills where it’s safer. Ladies, those men won’t bite you. They may not be the suavest out there (though some are pretty suave), but trust me. They’ll definitely encourage and appreciate your attempt to grip some iron.

Now! Does lifting weight cause you to bulk up? The answer is: yes! Of course. That’s the whole point of lifting weights, to break down your muscle so that they can repair themselves and grow stronger. But! They won’t cause you to ‘bulk’ up like you think. A young man, eating all the right food, sleeping ten hours a night and killing himself on the weights will gain about 2lbs of muscle/month. That’s it. And that’s at the perfect, extreme end of things. If you’re just starting, there’s no way you’ll get those kind of results. So will you turn into a gorilla? NO.

What will happen instead is excellent. Chalean Extreme program is built on this concept. Building muscle burns fat. The vast majority of women who lift iron regularly simply get a beautiful, toned, lean, long look. Muscles consume more calories than fat, even at rest. Building muscle consumes a ton of energy. The whole process turns your body into a fat consuming machine. Your muscles will not suddenly explode, but rather will get you that athletic, healthy look you’ve been striving for all along.

Now, if you were to lift weights seriously for a couple of years, doing everything right and continuously trying to lift more, of course you would start to look strong and tough. But that’s not what most people do; instead, they lift weights until they get to where they want to be, and then they lighten the load and simply maintain. Look at Marissa Miller on the right up there. She definitely lifts weights, but does so lightly and tailored to her goals. Because lifting weights does NOT mean benching 100’s of lbs. It means doing as much or as little as you want.

So what are the benefits of lifting weights? I’ll run through some of them quickly. The first is that you engage your whole body. Doing an exercise on a machine cuts out your ‘stabilizer’ muscles, since the machine keeps the weights gliding along a set path. When you’re doing free weights, your body has to kick in and hold everything in place, giving you a much better workout. Also, you can adapt the exercise to your size. Unlike machines, it doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short or overweight or skinny; every exercise will be tailored to your size.

So there you have it. Lifting weights will help you slim down, burn fat, look good, and won’t stress your joints while giving you a more comprehensive workout. It would take years and years to realize your fears, and like any professional model, you can adapt your program so that you keep your figure exactly as you like it. Give weights a try, ladies! Trust me, it’s fun, challenging, and you won’t look back!