Will Lifting Heavy Weights Make Me Bulky?

Think lifting heavy weights will transform you into a female version of Arnold Schwarzenneger? Think again.

Adding more weight to your bar won’t automatically make you look “bulky” or “manly,” (which, by the way, is a highly subjective term). In fact, it will do just the opposite – helping you build tight, dense, lean muscle, increasing your body’s ability to burn fat, and shaping your curves in all the right places.

The idea that moving heavy weights will make you bulky is a myth. Just ask the experts!

“Lifting weights can increase your lean body mass, which increases the number of overall calories you burn during the day,” says Jacque Crockford, CSCS, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat. One pound of muscle, for example, burns 7 to 10 calories per day, where an equal amount of fat will only burn somewhere around 2-3. So, lifting weights torches more fat overall.

But this isn’t the only reason you should put the “bulky” myth to rest. Here are five more reasons lifting heavy won’t turn you into the she-Hulk:

Will lifting heavy weights make me bulky

1. It’s not that easy.

It takes years upon years of dedicated training to attain the muscle mass of a body builder, combined with a diet that would make any average gal swoon. When you see people at the gym busting out of their tops, you have to keep in mind that in order to get to that point they had to put in some serious training (basically, lifting like it’s their job, all day every day).

2. You have to move mountains to gain bulk.

Bulky muscle is built by lifting excruciatingly heavy weights for long periods of time under tension (or, TUT); whereas, lean, dense muscle is built by lifting heavy at a lower volume or shorter period of time. Until you reach the caliber of an expert weight lifter and spend significant hours lifting at this level of intensity, you are in no danger of becoming bulky.

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3. You aren’t consuming enough calories to gain that much.

Muscle is created in the same way as fat: by eating a surplus of calories. If you eat at maintenance (AKA, only the amount of calories you need to meet your energy expenditure for each day) or a slight surplus, you will build lean muscle with very little, if any, bulking. This is why, when a person loses fat but maintains their lean muscle, they actually eat more while still losing weight.

4. The female body just doesn’t work that way.

Testosterone is one of the most important factors contributing to the growth of large muscle mass. Women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone in their bodies than men, and therefore cannot build the same amount of muscle as quickly. Those female bodybuilders you see on grocery store magazine stands are likely taking supplements or steroids designed to help them gain this capacity for muscle growth.

5. Again. It’s just not that easy.

Seriously though. My husband wishes it were that easy to build muscle in a short amount of time. Research shows that men are capable of building 1.5 pounds of lean muscle within a month. Women are capable of building .75 pounds of lean muscle in the same period of time. I promise you won’t suddenly get bulky overnight.

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Putting It Into Practice

The idea that moving large amounts of weight (whether that be through weight training or the simple use of heavier dumbbells) will make you look husky is an absurd myth that I think we need to put to rest. There’s little basis to this fear. In fact, throwing around serious weight is actually really empowering! Why wouldn’t you want to reclaim that power?

That said, lifting isn’t the only component of a healthy workout routine. Having a balanced exercise plan that incorporates a mixture of strength training, interval training, stretching and aerobic exercise is a wonderful, well-rounded way to attain your physical and mental goals.

Instagram-famous, certified personal trainer Alexia Clark says, “Lifting heavy weights will not only give you a firm, womanly body, but it will also make you strong mentally. By challenging ourselves in every workout to push a bit harder, we will see a difference in other aspects of our life as well.”

With a consistent routine of intentional, clean eating and weightlifting—emphasizing form over weight moved—you can lift yourself to a stronger, healthier, fitter body. You may even lose a few inches in the waist in the meantime!

Pounds aren’t bad if you put them in the right place. Just let these pictures do the talking!

Think you’re ready to incorporate weightlifting into your workout routine? I’d love to hear what you think!

Related:
7 Reasons You Should Be Strength Training
Seniors Should Be Strength Training, and Here’s Why
This Type of Exercise Can Actually Slow Aging

58 comments

Ellie M
Ellie M1 months ago

ty

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heather g
heather g1 months ago

Do people still think that way?

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Louise A
Louise A1 months ago

Thank you

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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