As a trainer, as someone in the gym a lot, and as a bodybuilder myself, I constantly hear the phrase “I don’t want to lift weights because I’m not trying to look like a bodybuilder.”
Women, specifically, ask me for workouts that are tough–but not too tough.
They fear getting “bulky” and “manly.” These women clients typically describe their ideal body as “toned.” Not all women have this same ideal though.
But the one’s whose fears I’m trying to quell with this post usually think muscles are synonymous with men and are for men, and men alone to have.
Our westernized culture assimilates muscularity with masculinity, but I know plenty of scrawny men– that’s an aside. But it’s important to note, because muscularity is also a characteristic of ideal femininity, in my opinion.
Everyone is entitled to have their bodies look how they want them to!
As the famous saying goes:
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
But for those of you who are worried about looking like a bodybuilder (I can earnestly say no offense taken here, I love my bodybuilder body) or who know someone who is afraid of looking too muscular, read on!
Here are some straight #facts to ease your mind.
1. In order to gain muscle in a manner that would make you appear to be larger than you typically are, you would have to be in a caloric surplus while also consuming 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, AND implement a strenuous resistance training regime specifically designed to increase your muscle mass. Most causal gym goers don’t meet all of these criteria.
2. Bodybuilders typically utilize hypertrophy workouts which are designed to increase muscle size and not necessarily muscle strength. Usually these workouts aren’t consistent with powerlifting style training routines that result in the formation of hefty dense muscles mass (woo, go powerlifters). But that’s not to say bodybuilders don’t also lift very heavy! This was just the style of training typical to my class of bodybuilding (Bikini) which is the lowest level of muscularity along with the typical high levels of conditioning found in bodybuilding to show off lean muscle.
3. You’re not on a 5 by 5. Aka you’re not hitting Personal Records (PRs) or maxing out sets until failure. Chances are, you’re not upping weight every set until your physically unable to lift it. This is the typical style of training I recommend, as a trainer, to those who are looking to build mass.
4. Without dieting down you will never accidentally become as lean, conditioned, or vascular as a professional bodybuilder. It takes weeks for bodybuilders to prepare for shows, anywhere from 10-20 (a typical prep is usually 12-16 weeks). Some competitors spend YEARS building muscle in between seasons. Competition style preparation requires that your body fat levels reach extreme lows. This is why the muscles that these athletes showcase POP so much on stage and appear cartoonish (the tan also helps)!
I hope you can now rest assured there is no amount of typical gym training, Zumba, or barre classes that will have your body completely transform before your eyes without consistent effort and the specific intention for it to.
Implementing a resistance training program is absolutely essential to building a body that can DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE and feel STRONG!
I always tell my clients, the more muscle you have the more efficient your body is at burning fat.
Seriously, this post isn’t tongue in cheek (albeit, a bit sarcastic at times but what blog post of mine isn’t?)! You’re not going to look bulky by weight lifting.
It always saddens me to see this misconception hinder peoples’ success in the gym and prevent them from reaching their body composition goals.
Don’t fall into this trap. Get the facts, research a routine, and feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org with all your fitness inquires, or find me on Instagram @dearfitkris. I would be happy to formulate a training program specific to YOUR needs!
Be well xx.