Lifting weights makes women huge?

17 June 2015

With summer upon us a lot of people are wanting to get in shape and get beach body ready. With the hundreds of workouts out there claiming to get you the bikini body you’ve always wanted in 7 days or the 30 Day Squat challenge, it can be confusing as to what you SHOULD be doing ….

Well if your goal is a nice, trimmed, ‘toned’ stomach then please read on.

It was only up until recently that women have embraced the iron and began to lift heavy weights. With all the mainstream media telling us that lifting weights makes women is finally being recognised as false.


On top of that, they have been told to avoid great exercises such as squats and deadlifts because they will thicken up your midsection and give you a ‘bulky’ mid-rift. People who still claim this to be true …. THEY ARE WRONG!

In the bodybuilding world, when a physique competitor is said to have a blocky waist all this means is that their oblique muscles are bigger than they need to be and create a straight up and down shape. For women competitors, and the average person in society, they are praised on stage, and in life, if their waists appear to go inwards towards the bottom creating an hourglass figure.

The reason for this ‘blocky’ look is caused from excessive oblique work (side bends, side crunches etc) and this stops the waist appearing to be narrower than the rib cage and pelvis. Similarly, excessive rectus adbominis and erector spinae (abs/lower back) work leads to a blocky appearance from the side view.


There are many people out there who argue that squats and deadlifts are the best core exercises out there and that a thick core is just a side effect of these great exercises which cannot be helped.

Now in favour of this argument, with regards to the erector spinae then yes, squats and deadlifts could be the best exercises for strengthening the core. In the same light, if we are referring to IAP (intra-abdominal pressure) requirements then again, these are the best exercises. Very high magnitudes of IAP are required to stabilize the spine during a squat or deadlift because of the massive amounts of torque loading placed on the spine.

With this said, there is far more to the core than the IAP-producing muscles and the erector spinae.


Squats and deadlifts don’t activate, to high degrees, the muscles that give you a thick waist. These muscles are composed of the Rectus Abdominis and the Internal/External Obliques. This makes sense as you definitely do need to activate these anterior core muscles sub-maximally when squatting/deadlifting in order to enhance spinal stability. With this said, you shouldn’t be trying to activate these muscles with maximal force because any spinal flexion must be countered by the erector spinae in order to keep a neutral spine.

The key here is ‘bracing’. This allows for maximal spinal activity without maximally engaging those muscles which could create a thicker waist from front to back. In order to ‘brace’ one simply needs to take in a big breath of air in the belly and then lock the core into place with moderate contraction.


Drugs are the main reason for the bloated belly of some bodybuilders. It’s of no surprise that many bodybuilders take drugs to maximize muscle growth whilst simultaneously minimizing body fat. Organs and muscles grow larger with resistance training anyway, but when you add in anabolic steroids, growth hormones and insulin and couple this with ridiculous amounts of food they grow remarkably larger. It is this pronounced enlargement of the bodies organs which causes the midsection to appear to grow disproportionately larger.

Growth hormones and insulin have become ever more so popular in recent years and because of this, distended bellies have too. This actually has a negative impact on the competitors chances of winning as a result of their ugly bellies.


Because squats and deadlifts require a strong bracing of the core, people have thought that it is this high level of IAP development and outward pressure in the belly region comes from the rectus abdominis and obliques. Yes these exercises would in fat lead to an increase in diaphragm strength but it would not affect the waist of a physique competitor for example.

It’s also not easy for some people to admit that they are in fact using drugs to get the results they want so it’s far easier to blame certain exercises for the blocky waist.


The truth is most popular core exercises activate the abdominal muscles far more when compared to the big lifts. If a slim waist is your goal then you would be far better off doing squats and deadlifts than many traditional movements like weighted situps, leg raises, planks etc. Almost all biking competitors include these big, compound movements in their training and they look good.

When you are performing these exercises remember to brace your core. This allows you to maximize spinal activity without engaging those ‘blocky’ ab muscles too much.

Lean abs then, is about strength and diet. If you want a nice slim waistline, and not muscular abs then watch what you eat and focus on gaining overall strength with different upper/lower body movements. Your abs will show as they will not be hidden under a layer of body fat and they won’t be excessively developed.


This article is featured on KeepGettingStronger.

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author: Josh Morrell

Valentin Gauer

If I only thought about this before. I’ve heard about it but your post makes a lot of sense. Thanks! My blog –

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