Weight and Resistance Training - broad shoulders...light lifting?

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10-01-2013, 12:14 PM
I'm 5'6 1/2" or so and have fairly broad shoulders. I've been strength training for a while, 3 times a week, in addition to cardio. I usually use 8 pounds, high reps, for flies, chest press, bicep, tricep, lateral and front raises, etc. That's 'heavy' for me and I'm straining to finish the sets, and always pretty sore the next day. I've had trainers before who counseled me to lift as heavy as I can. I feel ready to move up to 10 pounds soon.

However, after class today I was talking to the teacher. He told me that as a broad-shouldered woman, I need to be careful not to really develop my shoulder muscles, because it would look too masculine/make me look top-heavy. He thought I ought to use 6 pounds, which is not a strain at all, to be 'lean' and not 'bulky'. I'm confused...I thought it was a misconception that lifting heavy caused women to develop big muscles.

I'd love some advice because going back to 6 pounds/no strain...it doesn't seem like it does anything.

10-01-2013, 01:01 PM
If you were closer to goal weight, I think you'd be able to better to see what is really muscle and what is fat as even fat can stay within your muscle fiber. The truth of the matter is you can build strength without size although some women after using heavy weights (and I'm talking about 100+ lbs) and are lean will sometimes notice that they have a broader back. This really doesn't cause a problem in dimensions as it provides an illusion that the waist is smaller. The problem it tends to cause is with clothing like people I know where size 0 and size 2 clothing who lift very heavy weights will sometimes notice they need to wear a belt as shirts aren't designed for broader backs for women.

The shoulder muscles really don't broaden out as much as your latissimus dorsi (upper back) muscle can. The thing is I don't see any exercises in your routine that even indicate any back work.

So basically, long story short is I'd ignore your teacher, keep doing what you are doing. Based on what you are doing, there is no way you will become broader. I also have broad shoulders but even despite using very heavy weights and working shoulders, chest and back muscles, I've never become broader.

I don't want to entirely dismiss the idea that some women may notice being broader near goal weight because sometimes it does happen but again happens with workouts over time using very, very heavy weights. 8 lb weights won't do, even 20 lb weights won't do it and you have to be near goal to notice the difference because it is fairly slight but can make clothes shopping somewhat annoying for otherwise tiny women.

Please Do Not
10-01-2013, 01:54 PM
I'm half an inch taller than you, lifted up to 60, and still have little kid arms. You'll be fine. :)

10-01-2013, 04:09 PM
Thanks! I didn't think it sounded right. I mean, I can't imagine that 2 - 3 lifting sessions/week of 8 pounds/multiple reps was going to make me into some kind of musclebound girl...but I felt a little paranoid after talking to the teacher!

10-11-2013, 01:00 AM
8 pounds? Are you serious?

Lol.:hug: No offense intended.

I lift/strength train. :carrot:

Due to hormones, mostly, it's very difficult for any woman to become anything close to muscle bound. Also it take multiple hours a day in the gym and a diet none of us want to follow!

Strength and power training, combined with some cardio, and yoga, or what ever floats your boat, is good for us as women.

Actually, in the long run, the benefits of lifting, and power training are good for women. Helps to prevent bone loss, helps with balance, and so on.

I'm currently benching 85lbs, deadlifting 155 lbs, seated row 100lbs. Heels up, wide stance squat, 60 lbs. Along with lots of other moves. Sounds like your trainer wants you to be a treadmill goddess, who thinks you can tone up lifting tomato juice cans. ROLFMAO.

Fitness has evolved! Women need to LIFT and POWER train! It's good for us!

Check out the "New Rules of Lifting" books, on Amazon. Great program. It's what I'm following.

Personally, I'd take the 8 pound weights and, well never mind, what I'd do with those!:D

11-03-2013, 10:53 PM
Wow. What a ridiculous recommendation, lol. I shoulder press 80 lbs and my arms are not masculine-like at all. Lift heavy weights. Rinse. Repeat. ��

11-11-2013, 10:26 AM
Have you seen any 'muscle-bound' women?


Look at a copy of 'Oxygen' Magazine. Those women are top form and are not muscle-bound. And they exercise 24/7 and eat pristine with supplements. And they've been doing it for ages.


And what's wrong with a little muscle and strength?

12-01-2013, 01:56 AM
I am just about your height and also have very broad shoulders. I have been deadlifting and doing squats for several months now. Not heavy-heavy, I am 45 years old and have arthritis in one hip, so I progress slowly: as of yesterday, up to 90lb (I do it 2-3x a week). Oh, and lat pull downs. Let's just say I am in no danger of being confused with a football linebacker, although I flatter myself that I have a bit more "definition" in my upper arms. Oh, and my butt is perkier, which makes my waist look smaller even though it's not. ;)

12-01-2013, 04:22 AM
Like nelie said, it's possible to build strength without building size. I actually would lift higher weights and much lower reps, but only if I had first mastered the movement and form so there's no danger of injury.

I think that it takes special (pharmaceutical) effort for women to build enough size to look masculine. Besides there's more to looking masculine than just broad shoulders, and those are the side-effects that can come from taking testosterone enhancing drugs. Not from lifting weights.

Now, if "top heavy" would mean that you have broad shoulders and narrow hips, and you want to be more balanced, then sure, why not focus more on your lower body. It's not going to change the bone structure though.

12-06-2013, 10:28 AM
I think everyone, even those of us with broad shoulders, are different. When I was a fair bit thinner and doing P90X (the first time), I ended up gaining a size in my upper body due to my back and shoulders. That being said, I don't think it would be different for me if I had used light weights vs. heavy weights - it just is. It's not fat, it's muscle - even now when I am heavier in general, my back and shoulders are very muscular. It doesn't keep me from doing work that hits those areas, though. I looked at my mom, remembered my grandma, and realized that I'm always going to have broad shoulders.

I do periodically feel like I need to tell people it's muscle. :-)

12-06-2013, 06:01 PM
I was a competitive swimmer when younger so I have broad shoulders. My hips are really slim compared to shoulders - just the way it is. Like Mezmerelda, when I was lifting, simply using body weight was enough to develop muscles there. So basically, it's up to you what you want to do and how you want to look. You don't need to lift heavy (from my experience) but strength training is important to keep healthy I think.

12-13-2013, 06:21 PM
I like a little muscle tone but that's just for me I guess...