Will I get bulky if I do weights? This is a really common concern for many people and I hear the question a lot, particularly from women. I’ve had many personal training clients tell me they don’t want to lift weights in their sessions because they’re already too big and don’t want to get even bulkier.
The great news is that you can do weights and you’re not going to get bulky. Women generally lack the testosterone required to really turn into anything remotely resembling Arnie. You also need to be lifting really pretty heavy weights and eating in a way conducive to building muscle to really make big gains in terms of muscle.
But muscle weighs more than fat right? Technically, sure. But this is often a misunderstood concept and we’re not really talking about weight here, we’re talking about physical size. A common comparison is 1kg of fat vs 1kg of muscle. You’ve likely seen photos of this sort of comparison. The 1kg of muscle is considerably smaller than the 1kg of fat. It makes sense then, that if they compared a piece of muscle and a piece of fat that were the same size, the muscle would be heavier than the fat.
So yes, muscle weighs more than fat but muscle takes up less physical room for it’s weight. It is much denser than fat. If you were to lose 5kg of fat and gain 5kg of muscle, you would weigh the same amount but you would be physically smaller.
Another ‘will I get bulky’ type complaint I hear from clients and followers is that they believe they get bigger after just one session lifting weights. This will almost certainly be a temporary training effect. Your muscles can swell a bit and hold extra fluid after a weights workout – especially if you’re brand new to lifting weights or you have just increased the weight you are lifting. This can cause them to temporarily look and feel a bit bigger and you may weigh a bit more on the scales. This is quite temporary though, so don’t let is discourage you.
Start with manageable weight so you can work on your technique and build up slowly as it gets too easy. Over time, if you are consistent, you will likely build some new muscle (but it certainly won’t just appear overnight) and you may lose some fat. Muscle is more metabolically active, meaning that it naturally burns more energy than fat every day so it’s certainly not a bad situation to find yourself in.
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