General Question

bones_johannsen's avatar

How to convince my wife that working out won't make her arms huge?

Asked by bones_johannsen (13points) December 23rd, 2010

My wife is fairly slim and petite but says she wants to lose some weight and tone up a bit.

I’ve told her I would show her how to lift weights because one of the places she’s concerned about is the back of her upper arms, which are a bit flabby.

But she’s afraid she’s going to become big and muscley like me.

She has pointed out some famous women who work out and I agree that their arms do look big.

What should I tell her?

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13 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Show her photos of women who are fitness models who do not have huge arms.
She is aware that she can stop lifting weights at anytime if she notices her arms becoming enormous isn’t she? XD
Muscley arms on women rock ;)

MrItty's avatar

Take her to the gym and show her all the women working out there, none of whom have disproportionately muscular arms. Seeing is believing.

Cruiser's avatar

If she is alreay slim and petite she will have a near impossible time bulking up her muscles without some insane heavy lifting program. If she stay with lighter weights and lots of repetitions her arms will simply tone up and look awesome!

Coloma's avatar

I have fallen off the workout wagon this last year or so but..I too am petite, just under 5’4 and worked out with weights forever along with a 3–4 mile walk/jog routine.

I used workout bands and 8 lb. arm weights and never ‘bulked’ up.
Also lots of push ups off my deck rail.

Just very toned, defined and STRONG! ;-)

lbwhite89's avatar

Less weight and more reps make for tone, not bulk. Jennifer Aniston does weight training, and her arms aren’t big at all. But they are toned and sexy. :)

auntydeb's avatar

@lbwhite89 has said it: reps rather than big weight. Point here is, if it is ‘flab’ at the back of her upper arms, then a bit of exercise will prevent full-blown bat-wings (bingo-wings etc) forming ahead of time! What about swimming though?

Working out and gym training are ok, but can be dead boring. Swimming is great for total fitness, and there may be Aqua-robics or similar to try at your local pool. The gentle resistance of the water, coupled with the support for the body means ‘reps’ ie, strokes, can be in the hundreds without realising it. Great way to get fit, and often more fun than the gym…

BoBo1946's avatar

10 reasons why lifting weighs don’t muscle up women!

diavolobella's avatar

Tell her that women don’t have the necessary hormones to achieve “man-size” muscularity. There is a great documentary put out by a fitness company called “The Firm” called “20 Questions About Fitness” that covers this. It may be out of print though.

Well, here is a clip from it that answers her question. It’s a little dated, clothing-wise, but the information remains true:

Seelix's avatar

My first thought when I read your question was Madonna and the crazy muscles in her arms. The reason why her arms are so defined is because she has next to no body fat whatsoever!

I don’t know much about weight training for women, but I do know that toning exercises will strengthen her arms without creating crazy Madonna-muscles. If she’s planning on working out at a gym, she just needs to talk with someone who can tell her exactly what kind of exercises she should do to achieve the result she wants.

I’m not saying that your advice would be bad, but you probably know best how to build muscle on a male body. Talking with a female trainer might be better for her.

JLeslie's avatar

Women typically don’t have the testosterone to bulk up like men. If you watch the Biggest Loser, that chick Jillian has said she has PSOC, which means her testosterone probably runs high, and even she does not have huge huge muscles like a man would working at the rate she does. Women who compete in body building live in an extreme way before competition. They work out a tremendous amount, eat tons of protein, consume very few calories, and the training period is viewed as unhealthy honestly. The average diet and weight lifting she would do is nothing like the training of a woman who has big muscles.

Also, if I remember correctly, but check me, doing more reps with lower weight helps define and build stregnth, while fewer reps lifting very heavy weights bulks up the mjscle, and also builds stregnth of course. Just losing fat will define her body, because we all have some muscle definition under our fat, unless the person is truly completely inactive. If her arms have loose skin, but little fat, bulking the muscle a little will give the appearance of less flab, because it will fill some of the space without looking fat.

Lastly, if she is against using weights, she can do other exercises to build her muscles through dance, push-ups, and others.

lilalila's avatar

Tell your wife that unless she plans on staying at the gym for at least an hour and a half every day while lifting weights until it is physically painful, then she’s not going to get beefy. It’s difficult even for some men to increase their muscle mass if they’re not too muscular to begin with.

Also, ditto what JLeslie said. Low weight, high reps. Alternative forms of exercise. Etc. Hiring a female trainer is a fantastic idea as well because she would probably be more likely to listen to her than you about a proper fitness routine. Plus it’s good motivation.

WhatEvil's avatar

“Less weight and more reps make for tone, not bulk. Jennifer Aniston does weight training, and her arms aren’t big at all. But they are toned and sexy. :)”

Sorry, but this is wrong. There is no such thing as “toning” as it’s own thing or “tone” as a property of muscle. Toning is also sometimes called “gaining definition”, but the only way you can improve muscle definition is either by a) gaining muscle b) losing fat c) a combination of the two. Lifting weights increases muscle mass, burning more calories than you consume reduces fat.

The main thing which will mean that your wife will NOT build crazy muscular arms is eating. Gaining muscle is incredibly difficult. If it was easy, wouldn’t all men have huge arms, pecs, abs and legs? From somebody who has tried their hand at bodybuilding, let me tell you that building muscle takes a lot of work, and eating right. If she does not eat lots of protein, and eat over maintenance then she will not pack on muscle.

A note for “eating over maintenance”. Generally a good starting point for figuring out what your “maintenance” level (that is, the number of calories you burn naturally every day and need to eat to stay the same weight) is to take your bodyweight in lbs and multiply it by 14, this will be close to your maintenance level (so say, 160lbs * 14 = 2240 calories).

Note that gaining muscle increases your metabolic rate, that is to say that maintaining muscle burns more calories than maintaining fat. If you weight 160lbs and have 20% body fat, you will burn more calories just by sitting around than if you weigh 160lbs and have 25% body fat, so this is another benefit to gaining muscle.

I haven’t even touched on testosterone yet, but this is a huge factor in why women don’t build muscle anywhere near as easily as men.

It may help to just read this, which is something I’ve copied from a forum I go to where people really know their stuff:

“The truth is, women can’t gain muscle at anywhere near the rate of men, no matter how hard they lift. Men naturally produce testosterone (you, of course, produce estrogen,), and the fact that we have 60% more upperbody muscle mass on average (yes, even the lanky little nerd you know has significantly more potential for growth in the upperbody) means you will never become “big and bulky” if you don’t use growth hormones and steroids.

Getting huge doesn’t just happen to men, forget women. Every female fitness magazine you read is garbage. It’s not hyperbole. Every single one. They are bad. Men’s Health isn’t really highly regarded, but you are honestly way better off reading it than you are pretty much any other fitness magazine geared towards your sex. They fixate on things like spot reduction (a myth discussed below) and bosu balls (CORE TRAINING OH EM GEE), light little weights and hours spent doing cardio.

Light weights don’t do anything for you but build muscle… Slowly. You might say the point of this is to avoid you getting big and bulky like a female bodybuilder. You, as a woman, genetically have a “cap” on muscle mass. You will NOT get big. What’s the point then of reaching your potential slow (or really, never reaching your potential at all) when you could reach it faster with heavy weights?

Heavy weights actually cause the bone to become more dense. Bone density is a major issue for women. Heavy weights build muscle, muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat, therefore muscle increases your metabolism.

Every woman in Hollywood who is considered “hot” does resistance training. They do intervals in cardio. Genetically you are predisposed against ever getting large without the help of chemistry. Do not worry about big weights making you big. They will build muscle, which will burn fat faster, help with cellulite, increase bone density, give you ‘shape’ and they’re the only thing that can fix flabby arms for women over 30.”

There’s also a reasonably good article here: (although there are ads trying to sell you things, these can be ignored).

Also, this woman lifts weights: Her name is Jenni Orr, look her up. Apparently she can do 15 overhead squat reps of her bodyweight. That is, lifting her bodyweight over her head, then squatting down til her thighs are parallel with the ground and standing up again.

hotgirl67's avatar

Woman won’t bulk up if they lift the right amount of weights. Plus strength training raises your metabolism and will help her to lose weight.

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