Weightlifting, often associated with building muscle mass, has sparked concerns among morbidly obese women about the potential for bulking up and getting bigger.

Sometimes the very mention of the term “weightlifting” brings to mind overly muscular women posing on stage.

But when we replace “weightlifting” with “weight training” or “strength training,” skeptical women are less likely to associate this with bulking up with a lot of muscle.

Morbidly obese women need to know that lifting weights, aka also resistance training, will add lean muscle that will fire up their metabolism — which is exactly what they want to happen if they seek loss of excess body fat!

Understanding Morbid Obesity

Before delving into the impact of weightlifting, it’s crucial to understand morbid obesity.

Morbid obesity is characterized by an excessively high body mass index (BMI), typically exceeding 40.

It’s also defined as being at least 100 pounds over your ideal weight range for your height and sex.

Though thin people can suffer from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, keep in mind that obesity is one of numerous risk factors.

A great analogy is that vehicular accidents have numerous causes, including drunken driving.

So just because sober people cause some motor vehicle crashes (due to drowsiness, texting, arguing with passengers), this doesn’t mean that drunkenness should be eliminated as yet one more cause!

The Fear of “Getting Bigger”

One common misconception is that lifting weights will make morbidly obese women bigger.

This fear often stems from a misunderstanding of the physiological changes that occur during resistance training.

Contrary to popular belief, strength training doesn’t necessarily result in increased size.

Muscle and fat are distinct tissues with different properties.

Weight workouts primarily target muscles, promoting their growth and strength, while fat loss is influenced by dietary factors and overall energy balance.

Training with weights increases the body’s energy needs.

When proper diet is in place, this heightened energy requirement will force the body to plunge into stored fat, which will lead to fat loss — smaller waistline, smaller thighs, overall fat loss.

In short, lifting weights shrinks fat cells by spiking the body’s energy needs.

This increased calorie expenditure occurs both during and after workouts. 

Body Recomposition

Weightlifting plays a hefty role in body recomposition, the process of simultaneously gaining muscle and losing fat.

This is particularly relevant for morbidly obese women, as it allows for a transformation of body composition while the dress size number becomes smaller.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Resistance training enhances insulin sensitivity, a key factor in managing blood sugar levels.

Improved insulin sensitivity can contribute to better weight management and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Adding lean muscle tissue creates more insulin receptor sites on muscle cells. This means more efficient uptake of blood sugar.

Psychological Benefits

Beyond the physical effects, weightlifting provides significant psychological benefits.

It can enhance self-esteem, boost mood and promote a positive body image.

Nothing tastes as good as strong feels!

These psychological benefits are essential for individuals navigating the challenges of morbid obesity.

Final Words

The fear of getting bigger is a blatant misconception, as resistance training offers the potential for body recomposition, increased metabolism and numerous health benefits.

The only thing that will make a morbidly obese woman bigger is the consumption of more calories than her body can burn.

It’s not the dumbbells that make one big: it’s the donuts!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness, where she was also a group fitness instructor, she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


­Top image: ©Lorra Garrick