You will NOT get bulky from lifting heavy weight.
Unfortunately, media, well some media, would like you to believe so. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. I am going to use two different examples in this blog and you can decide at the end of it if you agree or disagree. That is one thing that is so awesome about the United States of America. As long as you can breathe and gather your own thoughts, you decide what is right for you. I challenge you to look at things from all angles though and not base your decision on what someone else has told you, your own bias, or what you have heard. We all hear some pretty crazy things from time to time!
The next time you are at your local gym make some observations and take notes if you feel the need. I will list the things to observe below. Do yourself a favor and don’t be weird about this, but give it some honest thought. It may even help to ask a few individuals some questions to help with your final interpretation.
Observation 1 – What are most guys in your facility doing? Are they lifting weights, doing cardio, or a combination of the two?
Observation 2 – If you have worked out at this place more than a year and you have seen some of these guys in your facility around that same period answer this. Do they look any different than when they started? Maybe a better question would be, if you are only lifting light weight and doing lots of cardio do you look any different than when you started?
Observations 3 – If getting awkwardly muscular was really that easy, wouldn’t all the guys in this gym look massive and ripped?
Here is an example (a made-up conversation between myself and a usual prospect of Reclaim).
This is a typical exchange that I have had from many women who are fearful of gaining muscle and getting bulky. We will call this lady Cindy. If you are a Cindy, I am sorry I mean nothing personal.
Me: “Cindy, tell me about a time when you were in the best shape of your life?”
Cindy: “Well honestly that is probably when I was in high school. I participated in a lot of sports then and I just seemed to feel good and looked my best.”
Me: “Cindy that is a great response and here’s why. When you played sports you not only had the most amount of muscle in your youth, but also had an increased metabolic rate due to the extra muscle. Your sports demanded a lot from you physically and you were able to build muscle and keep your body tone and mobile. Too many excuse makers want to tell you that you must get feeble, weak, and incapable as you age. I am here to tell you that it is your choice.”
Cindy: “Wow no one has ever made that correlation before, but you are right I am not very active now and don’t feel that I have very much muscle.”
Me: “Exactly – this is what happens to us over time. We become very inactive and eat the wrong types of foods and destroy our bodies metabolic rate. Age is only part of the equation. We need to move more and do so with intensity and also eat correctly to nourish our bodies. When you do this you will have a fighting chance of getting your body back to how it should operate.”
Cindy: “Well yeah I want to get mine going again for sure, what do you suggest?”
Me: “Cindy, I love weight training. I am passionate about it and love to share it with others. Partly because of the mental toughness it gives you, but also because it simply is the most efficient way to boost your metabolic rate long term. Cardiovascular work only will sustain an elevated metabolic response for about 12-18 hours post workout where depending on the intensity of the strength training you will have an increased metabolic rate for the next 24-48 hours.”
Cindy: “Yes, that is me. I have only been walking for years now and I just don’t see any more results. I don’t want to get bulky though. Are we able to spot reduce or sculpt?”
Me: “Look I totally get that and I hear this a lot. Think about this question though. Did you gain all of your weight or body fat in just one spot? No, it came on over the entire body in a period of time. We need to work it off as a whole and it is going to also take some time. Too many trainers tell their members and clients that spot reduction and sculpting is necessary or possible because they don’t want to lose their business. I am telling you that it is nonsense and not helping you reach your goals. Strength training needs to be specific, heavy once it can be, and fairly intense if you want to really stoke that fire of a metabolism.
Cindy: “So strength training is not going to make me bulky?”
Me: “I think that is something that you need to think back on and then try for yourself.” Remember when you felt your best and looked your best is when you were the most active. I believe in weight training or strength training and specific conditioning. There is a big difference in what we do at Reclaim in comparison to bodybuilding. We train like athletes therefore the body should naturally take an athletic shape and tone. Most important remember that there is no supplement, diet, or 5-minute ab routine that is going to get you to where you want to be. It is going to take some hard work, discipline, and an increased metabolic rate.
Cindy: “All right I am going to give this a shot. It is totally out of my comfort zone, but what you’re saying makes sense.”
Me: “Give me 1 month and you won’t look back.”
Ladies if you are tired of a lack of results and want to increase your metabolic rate you need to do the following three things on a regular basis.
– Do squats, deadlifts, presses, swings, and rows with intensity and regularity.
– Eat foods that nourish your bodies. Real food. Don’t make things difficult. Calories don’t matter, nutrients do!
– Get adequate rest and keep stress to a minimal.