Lifting Weights, Ladies, Might Just Make You Bulky


Wait. What?! Isn’t that the exact opposite of what I’m supposed to say? Yes it is. So, what the heck am I talking about? Well, the truth is that it depends on what you think of as “bulky”.

Many women think that lifting weights will make them bulky. My response to that across the board has always been that it won’t, it can’t. The only women who get big and bulky from lifting are spending extreme amounts of time in the weight room and/or are taking steroids… or donning a 75lb. muscle suit like Danica Patrick did for her GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial! However, I’ve recently come to realize that each person’s definition of bulky is not necessarily the same. These variations in defining the term are part of the confusion.

Let’s start with a dictionary definition to get us on the same page. According to the definition of bulky is: “of relatively large and cumbersome bulk or size”.

Good news! This is exactly the opposite of what happens when women lift weights… even heavy ones. Muscle tissue is more compact than fat tissue. When people say muscle weighs more than fat they mean, by volume. So, pound per pound muscle takes up less space. By definition, muscle is the opposite of bulky. It’s actually fat that’s bulky.

So, where is the confusion coming in? What I’ve discovered is that, at least some, women define bulky as  visible muscle definition. They see the curves and contours of developed, defined muscles uncovered by a leaner (i.e. less fat) physique as bulky. I guess they’d rather have the smoother lines of a layer of fat covering up the muscles?

Another reason that it may seem like lifting weights is making your bulky has to do with timing. When you’re starting out and you have fat to lose, building up muscle will add mass in addition to the fat. However, if you are consistent with exercise and you’re eating a diet that supports fat loss, then it will only be temporary. As the fat goes and the muscles stays you will get smaller and tighter. I know, it’s just one more thing to have to get through when you start working out, but it’s all worth it. I swear!

Just in case you’re on the fence, here’s a quick run down of a few of the awesome benefits that lifting weights and adding muscle offer…

Muscle burns more calories than fat therefore raising your metabolism. The workouts required to gain and maintain that muslce also increase your metabolism. This means you’ll burn more fuel (aka fat) faster and once you reach your weight loss goal you can eat more. If you lost the weight without gaining muscle then when you reached your goal weight you would have to maintain a much lower calorie level because your lack of muslce will leave you with a lower metabolism.

Muscle makes you strong which enables you to function in the world with more confidence. Muscles enable you to lift heavy groceries, children, grandchildren… anything you need to do will be easier when you have the increased strength that comes with more muscle.

Plus, I have to say it. Muscle looks better than fat. Fat is squishy and jiggly and bulky.  And if you’re thin, but don’t have much muscle you may be skinny fat and that’s bad for your health. Adding and maintaining muscle typically means a healthier body.

So, if you are one who thinks that muscle definition means bulk, then I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. If you’re still not sure you could always try a little lifting yourself. You might just be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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