Myth Buster: Strength Training Makes You Look Bulky
Over the years, many clients have continued to ask us questions about common fitness trends and fads. Today we want to debunk a common misconception associated with strength training:
“Strength Training Makes You Look Bulky”
This often goes along with comments like:
“I don’t want to squat because I don’t want my legs to get bigger”
“I don’t want to get big and bulky, I just want toned arms”
Let’s break it down.
What does bulky mean??
What bulky looks like to one person can be completely different from the next. Everyone’s perceptions are different! In our experience, it tends to be women who shy away from lifting weights in fear of bulking up. Most women imagine ‘bulky’ looking like a bodybuilder.
If that’s the case, we have good news for you! Training to look like a bodybuilder is EXTREMELY difficult and requires a high level of commitment and discipline.
Women do not have the same hormone profile as men.
Putting on muscle mass doesn’t just happen easily! Not to mention, those “bulky” guys you see hanging around the gym in their tight tank tops are doing a very specific regime of hypertrophy training paired with a dedicated diet to achieve their desired results.
To achieve more muscular tone we need to load your muscular system.
Weight training makes you stronger by not only building new muscle but also by improving the neurological connection between your brain and muscles. The stronger your neurological connection to your muscles, the greater the ability to utilize the muscle that you have for all of your daily feats.
Why do we want to get stronger?
1. Muscle Increases Metabolic Rate
- Muscle requires more energy than fat at rest. By gaining muscle you increase your body’s energy requirements.
- The more energy your body needs to function, the more you will be burning at rest!
2. Increases bone density
- Weight bearing exercises build your bone density the same as they build your muscle.
- Important fact: The increase in bone density only occurs with weight bearing exercise (ie. exercises that force you to work against gravity). Full-body functional exercises are the most effective! For example, a squat is going to elicit a greater response than seated bicep curls or leg extension.
3. Increase muscle tone throughout the body - look and feel sexy!
- By strengthening your muscles, they will grow and appear more toned.
- Important fact: You cannot ‘spot tone’ your body. We hear our clients say “I want to get rid of these chicken wings” as they flap their skin under their upper arms. Remember that we can strengthen the muscles to achieve more tone but diet plays a major role in body composition. Strength training and diet work together to achieve this look. Remember that a person who loses fat will appear more toned in their arms, as the muscles are more visible, even without strength training.