Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

Before someone starts training at CrossFit For Glory, they go through a ‘Free Intro’ with us. In short, its a one-on-one conversation to learn what their goals are and where they’re starting from. This helps us build the best plan for getting them where they want to go.
By far the biggest concern voiced to me over the years when I sit down with women is that they don’t want to lift weights because they’re afraid they will ‘bulk up’ or get muscles that are too big.
With that in mind, I thought it was time to give this topic just a bit of focus. Note: I will not be diving into the weeds here, just some basics.
(**This is not a judgment on what anybody finds aesthetically pleasing or not.**)
First things first, let’s set the stage: when I’m presented with this objection in the Free Intro about the desire to not look bulky, I ask for some visuals to get an idea of what this person deems is bulky, because as we know perception is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t want to make any assumptions. More often than not, I’m either shown pictures of female bodybuilders or those of magazine (or social media) fitness models. Sometimes, its photos of female athletes in other sports like soccer or CrossFit.
There are a few things to unpack here:

  1. The total volume of training performed – these women get paid, very well, to workout full time like its their job. Because IT IS their job to workout! Right now, at most, people come to CFG and workout for 1 hour per day, 6 days a week. Most average 3 hours per week. The professionals average 3-8 hours per day, every day. You, me, and 100% of people that go to CFG do not have the luxury nor the desire to train that way.
  2. Their total training history – this is a term that refers to how long they have been training consistently. When it comes to looking like you are carved from stone, training history isn’t measured in days, weeks, or months. Instead, it is measured in years and decades. You cannot go from never working out in a structured way, to picking up a few weights and “bulking up” quickly. No, not even you with your special genetics.
  3. Testosterone – this hormone is the primary driver of building big muscles. Women simply do NOT make enough of this hormone naturally to make them look like those they are concerned with looking like. Women are programmed differently than guys in this regard.

Still not convinced? Look at some of the regulars at CFG who have been coming for years – do they look bulky? Exactly, didn’t think so. But even more broadly, take a look around at your friends and family who make working out part of their healthy lifestyle. Don’t look at the professional athletes, the Instagram models, or the CrossFit Games competitors. Take a look at the 99.9%, not the 0.01%.
So, what will lifting weights do for you?
Well, it’ll definitely make you stronger. Decreasing bone density as you age, especially for women, is something that everyone has heard the dangers of. Putting load onto your skeleton through resistance training (aka lifting weights) is the best way to reverse that trend and increase bone density.
Lifting weights will also boost your confidence. I know it may sound silly, but its incredibly empowering to lift something you’ve never lifted before. You walk a little taller, hold your head a little higher, and keep your shoulders back. You know that you are more capable to tackle life’s challenges after lifting weights.
And yes, you’ll build some muscle too. But you want this! Why? Because carrying more muscle means you burn more fat during the day, even when you’re not exercising.
Got questions?

people working out in a group fitness class


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