Home / / Why Women Should NOT Train Like Men

Why Women Should NOT Train Like Men

By Rachael Attard, Updated Jul 3, 2019

This is a pretty controversial topic. Most personal trainers will tell you that men and women should both train the same. This is also what I was taught when I was studying to become a personal trainer. Lift heavy and you’ll get great results.

But this is why I think women should NOT train like men.


I used to be a cardio only kind of girl. But I changed my workouts to incorporate heavy lifting. I saw some great improvements in strength, which was awesome. But I developed muscles that gave me that bulky look. I also become thicker and wider than I had ever been in my life.

No one in the fitness industry seemed to understand that I didn’t want to look like that, even being personal trainer.

I think there is a difference in what males and females perceive as the ideal female body. Most females want to look lean and toned. No offence to men, but I don’t think they quite understand this.

I have had discussions with men and male personal trainers about the ideal female figure. They point out girls that have amazing bodies, but they are just not what I would consider the ideal figure. Most of them are lean and toned, but a little TOO much – a little too much muscle, a little too wide, but lean nonetheless. And I know this is a personal preference, but from my experience, my ideal female figure is similar to the rest of the female population.

Here are some examples. Michelle Lewin has an amazing figure that takes HARD work! But majority of females are not aiming for this. Most are aiming for a “beach body” like Dani Bonnor and Chloe Poliwka.

why women should NOT train like men
Michelle Lewin
why women should NOT train like men
Chloe Poliwka
why women should NOT train like men
Dani Bonnor


There is also a huge difference in why males and females exercise, and their goals.

Most men go to the gym to get huge and build as much muscle as they can. They also have goals such as being able to bench press or squat a certain weight.

Most females go to the gym to lose weight, and their goal is often aesthetic – to lose a dress size or lose a certain amount of weight. Women also have a naturally higher body fat percentage, which makes it more difficult to reduce body fat.

Because men and women have difference goals, we should not eat the same. So why should we train the same?

Men who want to gain muscle should eat 500 calories over maintenance and women looking to lose weight should eat 500 calories less than maintenance. And women also don’t need as many carbs as males do to fuel their workouts.

why women should not train like man


Women who train like men will not end up looking like a man, but will gain significant amounts of muscle and will get significantly bigger legs, shoulders and arms. Women CAN build muscle! They just won’t build as much as a man will.

Your body type plays a huge part here!

If you are a thin ectomorphic body type, this type of training may suit you (but may not). If you are a mesomorph or endomorph, this type of training probably won’t suit you; unless you are looking to body build.

I have a special quiz that will help you learn your body type :)

Women naturally have better endurance and can recover quicker, so workouts should focus more on

  • lower weights
  • higher reps
  • less rest between sets
  • less rest between workouts, and
  • more steady state cardio.

Most women also have strong legs in comparison to their upper body, so there should be less focus on heavy lower body lifting.

muscle toning

I know that there are probably some personal trainers out there not happy with what I have just written. But from my own personal experience, and the experience of females that I have trained and worked with, they will agree with me.

They do not enjoy training like men, and also do not like the way it makes their bodies look. I don’t agree with the saying that weights won’t make you bulky, because in the eyes of a female, they can.


I have developed my own well-balanced workout program that incorporates resistance training and cardio (both high and low intensity). The program is designed to give women the lean and toned look that they are after, and understand how to do resistance training without getting unwanted bulk.

Find out more about my program here.

If you have any questions about anything, I’m here to help xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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10 comments on “Why Women Should NOT Train Like Men”

    Esther says:

    Hello there, my name is Esther. Well, I decided to get into weight training two months or so ago, an yes I have seen some difference. But at this point I feel like I’m gaining fat and and not muscle and seem like the male instructors kinda misguided me on what to eat to gain muscle. The reason why I started weight training is to get strength and gain muscle, and also for my mental state since I was diagnosed with clinical depression, so I use it as part of my therapy. But now is seems frustrating because, although my shoulders, arm and back are broader an leaner, I’ve got a tummy and I kinda feel fat on my lower part of the body. It’s kinda discouranging me to the point where by I miss my slender body(although I looked a lot weaker and drained). I’m confused, I’m not sure of what do now or changing the diet according to how a woman should train….please help me.


      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles! :(
      I know that reaching your fitness goals can be hard and that you probably have lots of questions on how to get that lean and toned body.
      We would love to help you as much as we can. So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!

      Our program has been designed to include the perfect type of resistance training and cardio to give you a lean and toned look, without making you bulky.
      It’s an 8 week workout and nutrition plan that will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).
      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe ebook and demonstration videos.

      If this is what you’re looking for, I would definitely recommend giving our program a go. :) You can find out more about it here:

      Lean Legs Program

      Wishing you all the best! xx


    Alex says:

    I love your blog. After being involved in fitness my entire life, and hearing the mantra of squats and lunges, yet seeing so many bulky figures, it’s great to finally have common sense. I remember complaining to my PT that the weight training was making me bigger, she said, “Impossible.” It’s so frustrating and sickening to think of all the wasted years working against my own goals. So, thank you for this awesome blog. Can you post on best dance cardio? I would love to read about that. Thank you again.

    Cherelle says:

    Hey Rachael, what if I lift heavy on 1200-1490 calories a day with a combination of the HIIT cardio you suggested, will it help me lose fat and get leaner? Doing only body weight and light weight training doesn’t work for me, I need to lift heavy.

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Cherelle. Everyones bodies are different, so if your body responds better to heavy lifting then you should do what works best for you :) Your height, weight, age and activity level will determine your calorie intake so it’s hard to comment on that, and your body type will affect whether or not you get bulky from heavy lifting. But if you have been lifting heavy and are happy with the results, then go for it! xx

    Penelope says:

    AGREE!! after 3 years of squats and lunges with heavy weights I’ve become really thick and my legs have totally bulked up. Its been six months now of no weights whatsoever but doing your leg exercises combined with pilates and although my legs are leaner, the inner thigh and quads muscles are still really bulky! will they ever go?? how can I lose these large muscles? is it just persistence? i will never squat again!!

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Penelope, I’m sorry to hear this happened to you! It takes a long time to lose muscle so yes they will go, but it will take a while. Just keep with the lighter resistance training and cardio! Good luck hun xx

    Johanna says:

    I love this article, cause is true, the perception of mens and womens is different, and we needed others workouts and i love u Rachel.
    Sorry for my english, i’m speak spanish

      Rachael Attard says:

      Aww thanks Johanna! :) xx

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