Woman Lifting WeightsMany women are reluctant to weight train, citing fear of becoming too bulky. If you too are worried about looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, don’t be. The hormone testosterone is responsible for helping men develop those bulging biceps. Although women do have some testosterone, it is not nearly enough to produce tree trunk like legs.

Why you should include weight lifting in your routine.

Starting at around age 30 women begin to lose a bit of muscle each year. Over time this loss of muscle leads to osteoporosis, bone fractures and even diabetes. Ultimately, many women may experience declines in mobility and independence. A good way to get ahead of the problem is with weight lifting. Benefits include better flexibility and balance, more efficient metabolism, more muscle and less body fat. Here’s another bonus – muscle is more compact than fat, so you will lose inches and look slimmer.

How to develop lean muscle with weight training

Do more with less – adopt a routine of more reps with lighter weights. You don’t need to work with very heavy weights to develop lean, toned muscle. For example, two sets of bicep curls with a 5 or 8 pound weight will help you tone without bulking up. A good way to determine if you have chosen the appropriate weight is to notice how you feel at the end of a set. If your goal is 10 reps and you begin to feel more challenged around number 8 you probably have the right weight. If you feel like you can do a few more than 10, the weight is probably too light.

Athletic young woman works out on training gym equipmentAdd variety – mix it up to avoid giving one muscle too much of a workout. If you only exercise your biceps but never work on your hamstring or glutes, you will create an imbalance in your body. Too, a focus on just one muscle group may make you look more bulky in comparison to other body parts.

Watch your form – especially if you are new to weight lifting you will want to consult with a trainer to be sure you are using correct form. Proper form ensures you are targeting the intended muscle and helps you avoid injury.

Use body weight – body weight training does not use free weights. Instead, it uses the weight of resistance from your own body to tone up. Examples include push-ups, which work your chest, triceps (say goodbye to saggy arms) and shoulders, and squats, which work your butt and thighs.

Weight lifting is important for almost everyone. Don’t let fears about bulking up keep you away from this valuable tool for health. You can enjoy the benefits of weight training and get tight and toned without worrying about getting to bulky.