Most women I have ever spoken to about training and what their goals are said the words "tone up." To tone up refers to the body burning fat to make certain areas more firm. When someone wants to "tone up" they need to increase their workload output and cut back on some foods. Toning up is the body getting rid of it's excess fat and this is a good goal for anyone to have. Having less body fat will help you lead a healthier and more productive life while feeling a lot better. The body will not "tone up" with exercise alone, especially when you just do some cardio "workout". You can lift weights for hours everyday while neglecting diet and not "tone up." Weight training does not tone you up. You also cannot "spot reduce" any area of your body. If you have fat on your body and your goal is to lose it, you're at whim with your body's genetics and where it comes off first or last is different for everybody.
"Weight training? Oh.. I'm not sure about that. I don't want to have big muscles." This is the number one compliant heard most by trainers all across the world. Something in society seems to have women believe that having any visible sign of muscle is a bad thing. "I don't want to look butch or like a dike." (If that offends you get off my website. I hear it all the time.) The truth is how you look depends a lot on your genetics. Most women understand this and the next step they take is very critical.
You can have a woman who is around 5'5" and has an athletic body. She might think she looks too "butch" so the workouts begin. She wants to lose weight. She is afraid of building any more muscle on her body so she becomes a "cardio queen." This is very dangerous for this woman's health. All cardio and no strength training is a sure fire way to reach your grave earlier then normal. Do you want to be that 40 year old woman who has massive bone loss and looks extremely sick? Take Gwyneth Paltrow. She has worked out most of her adult life doing mainly yoga, cardio workouts, and Pilates. She is now 37 years old and has the brittle bones of a woman more than twice her age and a very serious nutritional deficiency. Her "trainers" motto is "No woman should ever lift more then 3 pounds." Ok. Have fun with that toothpick.
The point Ladies is you need to be lifting weights right along side of the men inside a gym. Lifting weights will help your body fight osteoporosis, help you look and feel young (Which is what women want most right?), increase your metabolic rate (Helping you stay fit and much less likely becoming fat), increase your physical strength and capabilities (Yes you will not bitch and moan anymore about how fucking heavy your kid is getting.), and have more stable hormonal levels. And unless you drop below 12-14% body fat, your boobs won't get smaller.
Building big, bulky, and "gross" looking muscles is a lot harder for women to achieve then they think. look around the gym anytime you go and notice all of the men lifting weights. They are all there to build huge muscles. How many of them look huge? Not a lot right? If it is so hard (and it is) for men to build big muscles don't you think it will be that hard for women? It's harder. Why?
Testosterone. Testosterone is one of the most important hormones the body produces responsible for building muscle. Males generate a lot more Testosterone then women do and that's why we're the ones with that sack. The female body is not capable of producing vast amounts of testosterone that help the body generate big muscles as in men. Simply lifting weights will not make your body grow, but it can and will help you burn fat, get stronger, and become healthier when it is the foundation of your exercise program.
Another reason why women will not build large muscles is because they will not eat like they need to in order for the body to start the muscle building process. The amount of food consumed on a day by day basis is just as important, if not more, as testosterone. In order for the body to build muscle two important concepts are needed. One, the stress and breakdown of muscle fibers (via weight lifting) and two, a caloric surplus. I do not see the caloric surplus being a problem for women.
So there you have it ladies. You are very likely not going to become some butch bodybuilder once you hit the weights. The image of the female bodybuilder you most likely associate your belief with is possible though. You will need to use some illegal substances and become one with the life of bodybuilding. It will takes years and years of countless unaltered dedication to achieve that level of muscularity.
Let me ask you this- how long has "toning up" been a goal of yours? How long have you been spending countless effort inside of a gym on a machine trying to achieve that goal? If you've been "working out" in a gym for any amount of time while avoiding the free weight section, you have wasted all of that time. Your body will return to normal once you stop your cardio program and you will stop it. That is fact. Your body is not meant to do countless hours of running sessions on a treadmill. Eventually your body will burn out, your brain will notice this and you will stop going to the gym. Pick up the weights and avoid this. Also take note of the contestants on The Biggest Loser. Notice how they also are lifting weights. Did any of them become huge?
When it's all said and done, does the fear of heavy weights really come down to how you look or is it about the effort that's required?