“But I don’t want to get bulky.”
Ladies, how many times have you thought that? Or heard a friend say it?
The purpose of this article is not only to reduce fear for women that resistance training will make them bulky, but also to create an argument that resistance training is one of the training modalities that should be HIGHLY leveraged to create a functional, lean and attractive aesthetic.
To put it simply, if you want to improve your physical, work, or mobility capabilities, that is done in the gym. If you are looking to transform your physique, that is done with nourishment and lifestyle practices. Although that is an overly generalized statement, the old adage of “abs are made in the kitchen” holds true here.
Short-Term vs Long-Term Metabolic Benefits
Would you rather spend money and pay off the balance each month, or use that money you would have spent to build equity in an asset, like a house?
Most people would prefer the latter. The analogy is eating an overindulgent meal, then feeling like you have to burn off those calories the next time in the gym (credit card debt). Say a cardio pump class?
Would you rather lift weights in the gym consistently, with each session potentially building your metabolic rate (building equity)?
You likely will burn more calories in the cardio pump class compared with a weightlifting session. However, if you focus on building lean mass, it will make it easier to maintain your physique with less work over time. With each pound of muscle you add, you will burn an additional 50 calories per day (on average).
Lifting Weights Is Toning Your Body, Not Making It Bulky
If you want a more defined midsection or upper back, breaking down muscle tissue is the proper stimulus to provide that effect. The resistance needs to be heavy enough that it either puts a moderate to high strain on your nervous system (roughly loads of 68% or greater), or provides a muscular contraction taken to failure.
The secret to the aesthetic that you have been desiring is not carving off every ounce of fat, but rather creating a solid muscular foundation with an optimal level of fat mass, relative to your objective.
If You Want To Get Bulky, You Have To Bulk Up Your Diet
If you are looking to lose weight, you will need to expend more energy than you consume. If you would like to gain weight, the opposite holds true. You can lift weights, eat less than you expend and lose weight. Assuming the training modality was responsible for the body composition outcomes, lifting weights would have you lose weight and likely become more defined. Remember that nutritional and lifestyle practices are typically what are misapplied if a female (or male) lifts weights and gets “bulky.”
If you would like to “recomposition” your body, meaning alter your fat and muscle mass without changing your weight, simply improving your macronutrient profile could be the ticket.
One of the common nutritional faults people make is not consuming enough protein, relative to their body composition and health goals. Decreasing daily carbohydrate intake paired with an increase in protein intake can create a massive body compositional shift for most people.
It Takes Time
We are the sum of our daily behaviors, consistently executed over time. Progressively overloading the musculoskeletal system for 10 years is likely going to support lean mass improvement, while eating 3500 calories more than you burn per week, will likely net in weight gain over time.
Many people start with an endeavor and get too fixated upon the results. Commit to the daily actions that are connected with the outcome you desire. Refrain from looking in the mirror to fret that you aren’t progressing and give up. Consistency, frequency and time trump all.
If you want to lean up, lift weights—in a progressive manner 2-4 times per week—and eat an optimal amount of protein, only consuming enough food to support energy levels and not excess body fat.
Sounds easy, right? If you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels, trying to put the pieces together, but you are not seeing the results you expect, schedule a strategy session with one of Central Athlete’s professional coaches. Let us give you some FREE insight and help determine what YOUR leverage point is.