Do Specific Exercises Make Women Bulky?

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Should you avoid certain exercises to not get bulky?

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, we answer a viewer question who asked, do specific exercises make women bulky?

In particular, seated rows.

This is another episode from our #WayBackWednesday series, where we highlight the best questions from previous episodes of our #AskLiveLeanTV Q&A show.

This question is from #AskLiveLeanTV Ep. 005, where we were joined by special guest, and fellow personal trainer, Leo Flowers.

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Here’s today’s viewer question:

@harmehar10 on Snapchat asks: Hi Brad and Jessica, I love watching your videos and personally a big fan of your workout videos. You do a really splendid job for the whole world to get fit and healthy! I am an Indian, so my question is many trainers in India advise their female clients not to do certain kinds of exercises, as they can make them look bulky, or give them a boyish look! One of the exercises being the seated row. Do you really think that’s true? Do specific exercises make women bulky?

Sounds like a good question for a female to answer.

Let’s throw it over to Jessica for her answer

“I 100% disagree” – Jessica

When it comes to seated rows, I love doing them, and I don’t think I have a boyish figure.

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I’ve been training for over 10 years, which included a lot of all variations of the seated row.

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So I don’t believe that’s the truth, as I recommend it as an excellent exercise for either gender.

I know some coaches also tell their female clients not to do sit ups, side bends, or certain core exercises.

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However, I really disagree.

A well developed physique comes from a well rounded workout program.

Not just a workout that only includes certain exercises, just because you’re a female.

I see a lot of females shying away from certain exercises.

They typically stick to the same 4-5 exercises, all the time, that specifically targets the booty, and shoulders:

It’s just a lot of lower body focus, “Jane Fonda” style stuff on a yoga mat.

A lot of times, this “girly” style training on a yoga mat, can lead to overall frustration with results.

When I see females who are achieving really amazing results, it’s usually because they’re following a workout program that works all the major muscle groups.

On top of this, they’re also paying attention to their diet at the same time.

Live Lean 20 Diet

Here’s what causes women to get a bulky or “boyish” figure

The things that are primarily going to cause a bulky or “boyish” figure are more related to your diet, overall calorie expenditure, and “injections”.

For example, some female professional bodybuilders are looking to bulk up to achieve that look.

Therefore, they’re more likely to pump illegal substances into their body.

They do this because girls do not naturally produce a lot of testosterone.

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So to make up for it, professional female bodybuilders may take substances to look that way.

We see this all the time because we train a lot at the mecca of bodybuilding, Gold’s Gym, in Venice, California.

At this gym, there are big posters on the walls of old school bodybuilders, including muscle bound and “boyish” looking females.

So let’s be clear, by just lifting weights, you’re not going to accidentally bulk up.

It’s understandable why you may think this

However, I can understand why a female, who is new to fitness, may be confused, after walking into a gym and seeing these posters.

It makes sense that your initial reaction may be, “But, I don’t want to look like that”.

This then leads you to believe you should avoid lifting weights, because that is the why these women look bulky.

Do Specific Exercises Make Women Bulky?

Remember, there is more to the story, especially when it comes to females getting bulky from lifting weights (i.e. anabolic steroids).

The majority of women who lift weights, including seated rows, will not get a bulky and boyish look.

Especially if you’re eating within you calorie needs, and not taking anabolic steroids.

calorie calculator

Bottom line: do specific exercises make women bulky?

We all 100% disagree with those trainers that say women will get bulky from lifting weights.

Whenever you’re listening to a trainer’s advice, you should also look around and see the kind of results other women are getting, based on the type of workouts they do.

For example, look at all the type of workouts that the popular fitness girls on Instagram are doing.

It’s weight training.

This shows you the results that can come from lifting weights.

Experiment and try different styles of workouts

Then you can make your own judgement based on experience, rather than just listening to what other people say.

On a side note, since people have different body types and structures, some women may naturally bulk up a little bit, but that’s very rare.

What’s My Body Type?

For example, if your aunt has a mustache, maybe she has the testosterone to bulk up after two push ups 😆.

However, most women lean out with lifting weights, including rows.

So you shouldn’t have to worry about that, since again, a woman’s testosterone levels and not usually that high.

In conclusion, you’ll be fine with seated rows.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you go check out this video where Jessica takes you through how to slim your legs, not bulk them.


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Question For You:

  • Do you avoid certain exercises because of your gender?

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