Will lifting weights make me bulky?

Over the last five years, we have been fortunate enough to coach and welcome many different type people to the gym. Those with no experience, to those with plenty, grandparents to sixth formers, men who want more muscle, to women who want to drop a dress size. One of the most common questions asked by the girls when they first start is, “will the weights make me look bulky?”… It is a question that I also wondered myself when beginning CrossFit and today we are going to address it.

I would like to start this article off by saying that everyone has different fitness and body goals. Some people may aspire to look like a Victoria Secret model, some may want to look like a CrossFit Games athlete. Even within these two categories there are huge variations. All that we should be concerned with is creating the best version of ourselves and understanding that everyone is different.

Whoever you are, whatever your goals are it is important to know that weightlifting is beneficial for all. For those of you worrying about becoming ‘bulky’ here are some facts that should help answer those questions.

1: We don’t have enough testosterone.

This is the hormone that is heavily responsible for building muscle and burning fat. The testosterone levels in men and women vary greatly. While men fall in the 300-1000 ng/dL range, women linger around 15-70 ng/dL making it much harder to build muscle.

2: We simply don’t eat enough to put on large amounts of muscle mass.

As a female you would have to eat in excess of several hundreds or even thousands of calories to build large amounts of muscle. When was the last time you sat down and put away two or three chicken breasts because you wanted extra protein? When was the last time you feasted on a dozen eggs in a single day because you were trying to add bulk?

3: Weightlifting builds muscle AND leads to fat loss

Adding a muscle under fat, and therefore looking bigger is a rational fear, because we traditionally look at weightlifting as the muscle builder and cardio as the fat-killer. But…what if weightlifting was both?

Researchers have indeed found that not only do weight and resistance training lead to fat loss, but they also maintain your resting energy expenditure (how many calories you burn at rest) better than traditional cardio.

4: Eating more of the right food, not less!

It is important to get a balance within your macronutrients. At the rate that it eliminates fat and builds muscle, you can know with certainty that weightlifting burns quite a few calories. This also means that at rest, your body is burning more calories than it used to.

You often see that many of us fall in to the habit of not eating enough carbs and proteins and it comes as no surprise that many start to feel exhausted everyday. Ensure you are eating enough calories, not just to maintain every day life, but to thrive when training too!