Will I Get Bulky If I Start Lifting?

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This is a question mainly asked by women since most men aren’t hesitant to bulk up. In fact, most guys I know are trying to get bigger if they’re in the gym. However, I want to address all of the women out there that have asked themselves this question and tell you to rest assured, because the answer to this question is NO.

NO, NO, NO, and NO.

How many women have you ever seen in the gym that looked bulky? Probably not very many. I’m sure you can think of that one girl you’ve occasionally seen at the gym that looks like she could totally destroy your brother in an arm wrestling match, but here’s the thing- you can probably only think of ONE girl. The truth is, women don’t bulk. That girl with huge muscles? That won’t be you if you start lifting.

I’ve heard so many women tell me they don’t want to lift weights because they don’t want to get too bulky. Many are afraid that their arms and legs will get too big, their clothes won’t fit, or they’ll look like a man. I’ve heard this way too many times from girls of all ages, locations, and fitness journeys, but did you know that muscle is actually the biggest factor in fat loss? It’s proven that the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. (Read this article to learn more.) But how do you get more muscle? By training with some resistance. Your muscles will only grow as you increase resistance.

A lot of girls think that the more cardio they do, the skinnier they’ll get. You might lose some weight, but as you do cardio without adding any resistance, there is nothing advocating muscle growth. Often times, they’ll even shrink as fat goes down. The idea that cardio is the answer to weight loss is actually a pretty big myth. Sure it might help you lose weight, but it’s not going to grow your muscles and help with that overall “toned look”. And without muscle growth, there is no increase in your body’s ability to burn fat. With only cardio and no muscle increase, you’ll just shrink to a smaller version of what you were with no increase in tone. I like to call this skinny fat. You’re still going to be the untoned person you were before, just a little smaller. All this to say, don’t be the girl that only does cardio, otherwise you’re going miss out on all of the advantages of resistance training, and if you’re going for that “toned, fit girl look”, you’re not going to find it. That’s just the science of it. If you’re looking to increase your fat burning potential, increase the amount of calories you burn a day, get that “toned look”, and lose weight, you’re going to want to start lifting. This idea can be scary if you’ve had that thought that lifting is going to make you bulk. Here’s why it won’t.

The secret miracle worker to making your muscles grow really big is testosterone. Ever wonder why men’s muscles are naturally bigger than women’s? It’s because they have significantly more testosterone. The average adult male’s daily production of testosterone is around twenty times greater than the average adult female. No wonder it’s twenty times easier for men to get bigger muscles! They can see significant size results in just a few months while women will take way longer to see a fraction of these size gains. This is because we don’t have nearly as much of that little hormone that causes muscle growth. We can lift and lift all day, but we still can’t make our muscles get too bulky! Starting in January, I started lifting very heavy to increase my strength gains, but believe it or not, my overall body measurements shrunk. Below is a picture of my six months of progress from January to June. If you look closely, my arms actually look thinner. My muscles are way more defined, but my circumference measurements in the first picture are bigger than my measurements in the second picture.

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Why is this? Well, muscle actually takes up way less space than fat. 1lb of fat is around five times bigger than 1lb of muscle. As you can see, my muscles increased. My strength increased. But my size? It went down. Even though I lift heavy, I’m not bulky. I never will be because I don’t have enough testosterone to make me that way. That one girl at the gym I mentioned at the beginning of this post?She’s most likely taking steroids with testosterone in them. Don’t ever worry about looking “too big like her” unless you plan on using drugs to get there. When you lift, you are using resistance to strengthen your muscles. For women, this causes strength and muscle size gains, but ever so slowly. I promise, you won’t get bulky- especially if you’re only using moderate weights. My muscle gain is significant because I aim for maximum weight when I train, but if you do moderate weights, you’ll never see muscles that get too big!

I want you to know that as a woman- you can lift! You can train! You can get stronger! You can do something more than just run or spend some time on the elliptical. Strong is beautiful. It won’t make you less feminine. It won’t make you manly. It’ll make you fitter, healthier, stronger, increase you muscle burning abilities, and so much more. I’m such an advocate for strong women. Don’t be afraid to pick up that dumbbell!

XOXO,

Kenz