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Why Lifting Weights Won't Make You Bulky

exerciseprogramming strengthtraining Feb 15, 2022

Are you cautious to lift weights, or lift heavier weights, out of a fear of adding too much muscle bulk? We have a lot of clients that fall into this category and buy into the myth that lifting weights will result in muscle bulk or looking like a bodybuilder…which is definitely not the case!


While some people desire the sculpted physique of a bodybuilding look - most people simply want to look strong, in shape, and feel confident. What most people don’t realize is how incredibly hard it is to build and maintain that kind of bodybuilding type muscle (especially for women), and this scares them away from touching weights or lifting heavy at the gym.


When you decide to avoid lifting weights, or never go heavier with your lifting, you miss out on so many of the benefits that come with a good strength training program. Let’s talk about 5 reasons lifting weights won’t make you bulky and the actual benefits you’ll get if you choose to follow a good strength training program:


1. Burn More Calories Throughout Day


Not everyone wants to lift weights, but most people would love to burn more calories throughout the day. The common misconception is that in order to burn more calories you have to DO MORE - more workouts, more cardio, more time running or slaving away on an elliptical machine.


But what most people don’t realize is that the caloric benefits of traditional cardio are usually short lived, while the caloric benefits of lifting weights can pay dividends even when you’re not working out. What this means is that when you do 30 minutes of cardio, you’ll burn x amount of calories based on how hard you’re pushing it with very little effect when you’re done working out. But when you lift weights, you’ll burn x amount of calories during the activity AND as you build more muscle, your metabolic rate will continue to increase. That means that you’ll actually burn more calories even when you’re resting or not working out. 


Bonus - not only will you be set up to burn more calories but you’ll also be able to better use those calories for fuel as you have more muscle - especially using those carbs to fuel your next workout instead of being stored as fat!


2. Look and Feel More Confident (AKA Toned and NOT Bulky)


While not everyone wants to build slabs of muscle, I think most people would agree they wouldn’t mind looking and feeling more confident. Lifting weights (combined with good nutrition) is the best recipe we’ve seen with clients for making changes in physique. While there is still often a reservation of following a strength training program when there is a concern of getting ‘too big’, this just isn’t the case for most people - especially women (see point #4 below). 


Instead, the result is often improved muscle tone and less fat and NOT muscle bulk. Also as you add tone and shape to your arms, shoulders, butt, and back - it actually makes your waist look smaller due to the shape of muscle. Now that’s not such a bad thing, is it?


If you want to be more confident, lifting weights can help you look that way. But it can also help you feel that way! So many of our clients report feeling more confident, strong, and able as they start lifting weights and realizing what they’re capable of with things like squats, deadlifts, and pullups.


3. Have Better Bone Strength, Joint Health, and Aging


Alright you say you don’t care about how you look, fair enough. Do you care about longevity and feeling good for years to come? Then listen up!


Lifting weights is by far one of the best ways to build bone strength and age better. A loss of cardiovascular ability is not the reason that most people need assistance as they age - but a lack of strength certainly can be. If you want to age better - some degree of resistance training needs to be in your regular routine.


Another common myth within this point is that lifting weights is bad for my joints. This couldn’t be further from the truth - the key is WHEN done correctly. If you have a trained eye helping make sure you learn the lifts correctly, lifting weights is actually beneficial for joint health and will make your joints feel better when done correctly.


4. Adding Muscle Bulk Is Actually (Really) Hard


As mentioned above, lifting weights for a few weeks won’t suddenly make you look like a professional bodybuilder. Most people don’t realize the extreme nature needed to achieve that look of Arnold in his prime - or trust us more people would look like that.


Adding muscle bulk takes a combo of heavy lifting, continually overloading muscles through more reps and weight, eating more calories than you’re burning, managing stress/sleep appropriately, and more testosterone than most women (and a lot of men unfortunately even) have. And that combo of things has to be optimized for YEARS at a time.


Ask any male or female bodybuilder how challenging it really is to add more muscle to their frame, and you’ll be surprised how much goes into it. For most people prioritizing good nutrition and a good strength program of 3-5 days of weight training will not fall into the category of being too bulky.


5. Be Better Prepared For Life


Above all the things we’ve talked about in terms of looking and feeling good, this one may be the most important of all.


Lifting weights will make you better prepared for life.


This is one thing we see time and time again at our Performance PT Clinic. Many injuries sustained are either from not being physically prepared to do the activity they got hurt doing (running, picking up their kid, hiking, etc) OR a poor program they’re following or incorrect form when following the program.


If you follow a program that’s intelligent, customized for your needs, and prioritizes good movement patterns - your body will actually be more resilient for whatever life throws at you.


If you have to suddenly lift something heavy, move quickly, or be able to better sustain a new hobby or activity - lifting weights will help you get there.

If you need more support on how to properly lift weights to support your goals, we should talk. Click here to fill out a contact form and we’ll be happy to discuss where your training program could improve to get you looking, feeling, and performing your best this year.

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