Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

Today's question is “will lifting weights make me bulky?” To be honest, we get this question more from women than from men. Men seem to be wanting to get bigger muscles and women tend to shy away from that a little bit and I think that's really a reflection of our culture and what we find generally attractive in this day and age, but a lot of women come in here and they say something along the lines of, "I don't want to get big. I just want to get toned." My running joke is that if I had a nickel for every one of those questions I got, I'd be a multi-millionaire. We're going to put it on a T-shirt someday…

We also get , "Oh I don't want to look like a man." So basically it's all asking the same question - Will I get bulky from lifting weights? The answer is maybe. You might get bigger muscles, you might grow in the biceps, triceps, pecs, quads, etc. They certainly will grow in the sizes of the muscle fibers as you lift weights. Resistance training does that - hypertrophy in your muscles - but is that necessarily a bad thing? And will it happen so fast that suddenly you're going to show up like Schwarzenegger and one day? No, you're not. We're going to see it coming and we can make adjustments based on what you want to get out of CrossFit. Generally what we want, like I said in my last post, is that we want to be generally physically prepared for any task. So we want to be able to do the things that we need to do in order to survive and thrive.

A lot of times that does mean we need to have enough strength to move other objects and certainly strength to move our own body. That doesn't happen without the right size muscle for the task at hand. CrossFit doesn't necessarily make you big. It doesn't necessarily build muscle to the point where you can't do other things. In fact, we want to be able to do so many things that if you have too big of a muscle, if you're overly strong, you might be lacking in mobility or you might be lacking in cardiovascular capacity, and that can be a bad thing if that means you are letting other aspects of your fitness slide - if you're not developing cardiovascular capacity, you don't have any good balance or agility coordination, other physical skills.

Because CrossFit emphasizes a broad, general, and inclusive style of functional fitness, actual things that you need to do in real life, we end up extracting from you the maximum genetic potential from your body. So even if you did the exact same thing as your neighbor, the exact same workouts, the exact same protocol, you might end up with different fitness results. You might end up with different cosmetic results. One person might be bulky, one person might be lean because you each have a different and very unique genetic structure. It's like your fingerprint. It's totally unique. When we apply CrossFit to you and apply that system to your body, you will get whatever it is that your genes are going to want to be at their utmost. You may get big muscles, you may not, you may naturally just have that capacity. There is a female athlete named Samantha Briggs, her nickname is “Biceps like Briggs,” and she's got huge biceps. Does that mean CrossFit's going to give you huge biceps? Not necessarily. It might. It might not. She doesn't sit there doing bicep curls all day to get them bigger. She's just done CrossFit in order to maximize her genetic potential and be fit in as many different ways as possible.

So the answer to “Will CrossFit or lifting weights make me bulky?” is not necessarily, and really we're going to see it coming. You don't have to worry that suddenly after a week or two of this, you're suddenly going to be huge. If I could make that happen, I'd also be a multi-millionaire. So don't worry. CrossFit's not necessarily going to make you bulky. You're going to get in great shape.

In order to be a part of this, all you have to do is show up. Give us a try. If you simply click this link you can book a No Sweat Intro with us. You come on in, at a time like this when it's nice and quiet in the gym, and we'll talk one-on-one for 15 minutes at most. It's totally a No Sweat Intro (come in wearing your street clothes), and we'll talk about your goals. We'll talk about how CrossFit can help you achieve them, and we'll get you into the best shape of your life.


Matt Andrus