What it’s like to be a woman with muscles

Now that the weather is warmer we’ve started baring our arms again, suddenly mine are attracting some attention.

I’ve never really thought about my arms much, they are useful for filling sleeves and providing a place to attach our hands.

They’re better than what T-Rex had anyway!

Apparently I now have muscles that are noticeable, and people are commenting.

I’ve had friends and 1 hairdresser touch my biceps and ask me to flex, which I do, then afterwards I think “why so curious?”

I know for some of my friends the idea of me exercising is like a snowman going on a beach holiday, so the fascination could be that

1. I actually have muscles


2. it’s rare to have a female friend with biceps.

Is it that strange?  Have I become less feminine, now that I’ve shaved parts of my head, chopped off my long luscious locks, choose to wear shoes that don’t cause bunions and developed muscle definition?

I don’t think so.

I have mixed emotions about my arms some days.  My Pilates instructor keeps referring to my arms as my ‘guns’, so I threatened to wear a big bulky jumper the next week just so he’d stop talking about them (maybe bulky isn’t the right word…). I know he’s only joking, but he is impressed with the improvement in my strength and is giving me more challenging exercises as a result.

Other days I’m just down right proud of them, as it’s a visible sign of the effort I’m putting into keeping myself healthy and strong.

Have you seen my beachball?
Have you seen my beachball?

A friend of mine was carrying a backpack and a shopping bag home from work recently when a stranger walking by said ‘ you can do it muscles!’. It baffled her, as what she was carrying wasn’t heavy and she wasn’t struggling, but she does have nice deltoids.

But what on earth possessed that man to make such a comment to a stranger as he walked by?

Is it unusual for women to have defined muscles?

A client recently commented that she felt that to be athletic wasn’t feminine. Now this woman is an athlete, she has the gift of hand eye coordination and is naturally strong but she often hides this outside of sports as she feels it’s not feminine.

What does that even mean? I wondered why should she hide her sporting prowess?

She is amazing! Is there no beauty in strength and agility?

I love watching elite athletes, swimming, tennis, running etc. I love the slow motion replays of these healthy, muscular bodies moving with grace and power. I have a lot of respect for these people.

Natalie Cook, Australian Beach Volleyballer
Natalie Cook, Australian Beach Volleyball athlete, check out those arms!

They’re in their element when competing. Afterwards, stand the athletic woman next to the waif model and ask yourself who looks more feminine, who looks healthier?

I’m not asking “who do you find more attractive?”

I think these photoshopped images of petite tall women are what prompt many women to say “I don’t want bulky muscles” when asked if they want to try weight training.  Second to “I don’t want to lose my breasts”.

Even I said this to my husband when for the millionth time he tried to convince me to give Crossfit a go.

Here we are 7 months later, I’m a regular Crossfitter, my physique has transformed, my clothes are the same size but they fit differently. I lost 3cm from my hips and gained it across my shoulders.  OH no! I hear some women say – not broad shoulders?! Yes, I have broader shoulders but I am by no means massive.

Thing is, and we hear this time and time again – our advancements in technology mean that for most of us our jobs are sedentary. We sit on our way to work, sit at work, sit on the way home, then once home we sit, sit and sit.

Our bodies were designed to move, if they weren’t we wouldn’t have so many joints (apparently there are 360!).

With so little movement in our days, our muscles atrophy (shrink) with disuse.

Muscle atrophy of the calves, which looks healthier?
Muscle atrophy of the calves, which looks healthier?

Give them a bit of exercise and they thrive, our bodies love it. To suddenly gain some roundness in the arms, buttocks, thighs and calves, to be able to see individual muscles in the arms, back and legs is a GOOD THING.  Muscle atrophy isn’t attractive or healthy.

Women shouldn’t feel that men won’t appreciate a muscular physique either.

Brent won’t mind me saying this because he maintains it’s the truth and not a biased opinion because I’m his wife.

He says he finds me attractive with muscles, because I’m strong. I can do things without hurting myself, I carry myself differently, I don’t feel that I have to cover myself as much or that I can’t wear those shorts in public.  In short – being muscly and having ‘great guns’ has made me comfortable and confident with who I am. Every week when we do the groceries, he’s still caught out when after he’s paid for the fruit and veg he realises I’m already out the door, doing the old ‘farmers carry’ with our bags of produce.  I’m just happy to help and relieved that I don’t feel like my arms are going to fall out of their sockets.

So ladies, don’t let muscles get in the way. I say “suns out – guns out!” Don’t worry yourself thinking are your shoulders too broad in this top?

Be happy you have shoulders and upper body strength! So many women say that the upper body is their weakest area, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your shoulders the strongest they can be relative to your size and shape.

You should be strong enough to be able to live your life and perform daily tasks with ease, in my case I’m finally strong enough to do my job – well.  Not so weak that carrying shopping back to the car gives me dead arms.

If being strong enough to live life comfortably gives you some great shoulders, good for you!

Women won’t end up with arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger, unless they body build, but even then it’s not sustainable because your body isn’t meant to be like this.


So seven months later I’m embarrassed to say that in the beginning I was worried about getting bulky.

I’ve decided that I enjoy being a woman with muscles.

bicep curling a giant sweet potato
functional fitness – I need to be able to carry my food!

I’d be sad if they disappeared because they feel good, they’re almost at that nice healthy spongy consistency rather than being like vacuum packed chubs of meat hanging from my shoulders.

And if you are yet to find the motivation to embark on your journey for the ‘summer body’ that all the magazines are telling you it’s time for, rather than exercising to lose weight, or get fit just tell yourself that you want to be strong enough to live your life with ease.

– Kimberley