Women, Heavy Lifting, Bulk and Size
Category: Fitness
Tags: strength training muscle bulky



I know you have stated that you don't train heavy anymore (not like you used to) and if you did you felt you wouldn't be able to wear your skinny jeans...I know you also mentioned that when you were training really heavy you also ate significantly more calories, so my question is do you think it is the lifting that caused the hypertrophy or the calories? 

I wonder if you would still have leaned out/shrank if you continued with the lifting you used to do but the calories you eat now? 

Anyone else have any thoughts or input on traing and body type outcome I am all ears! 

I am so thoroughly confused and seem to have been for years regarding training styles and results.  Once I feel I have figured it out something throws me for a loop (like the personal trainer I had last week who told me I was lifting wrong form my bodytype and would only get thicker and more muscular, huh)..I'm a mesomorph...

My boyfriend also used to bodybuild and states it is "impossible" for women to grow unless they are in calorie excess, not dieting...

So, what are thoughts on this?  I am really curious if it is moreso the training that gives you the body or the diet?



Strength training causes hypertrophy. You can't gain significant muscle from a calorie surplus alone, you have to be using it for something. And you CAN gain muscle while dieting strictly if you're also doing challenging strength training, as anybody who's ever done Body for Life or other "transformation" style diets and workouts can attest.

Here's the big thing I want to convey to all the confused people. It's all totally subjective. That's what causes the chaos and misunderstandings when discussing muscle and bulk. So, you end up with situations like a trainer saying "women can't get bulky from heavy lifting" and he's picturing a giant masculine bodybuilding steroid amazon. He's correct. That can't happen to women without drugs and he's totally sincere when he's saying it. So maybe his client, whose idea of bulky is the visible muscle definition on Renee Zellweger or Kelly Ripa, takes him at his word and then FREAKS OUT when her shoulders widen and her thighs and ass barely fit in her jeans anymore. She was looking for a softer skinnier Jessica Alba or Kate Beckinsale look. It's not that the guy lied to her; it's that they had very different ideas of "bulky."

My ideas and preferences about size, bulk, definition, etc, change all the time. So, I can't expect someone else to know exactly what I'm talking about or what I want unless we have an in depth conversation, and then I might still change my mind a week later. :-D That's just kind of how it goes. So what I'm doing to get bigger or smaller or more defined or more girly only applies to me and my own preferences. What I consider dainty somebody else might consider holy crap huge and vice versa.

You have to come to terms with exactly what you mean, and exactly what anybody offering advice means before you can make any sense of it.

I can say that my fully tricked out heavy lifting quads and glutes would fit in my skinny jeans if I also dieted down to a very low body fat percentage. Do I want to do very heavy strength training on a super strict diet with barely any calories? No thank you, I'll pass. So, then it's a matter of, how big can my leg muscles be with my current body fat and still fit in my favorite jeans? Because if you add too much muscle on top of too much body fat, the overall effect is just big. I'm not going for big. So, I keep an eye on both the muscle and the body fat, and I don't mean I'm tracking it fanatically and freaking out about numbers. I mean I want strong, fit, shapely legs that have some definition and still fit in my favorite jeans. That's all I measure.

Heavy lifting is subjective too. I say I don't lift heavy anymore but I'm routinely pressing a 35 pound kettlebell overhead and doing squats and lunges with 50-90 pounds. Is that heavy? Compared to what? Says who? See the problem? A pink dumbbeller may be horrified by those weights and a crossfitter might roll her eyes all the way out her head at the wimpiness of it.

If I were your trainer last week, before jumping in with boneheaded advice about your shape I would have asked you: How do you feel about your size and build? Do you like a strong athletic look? Who would you consider strong and athletic? Do you like a smaller, softer look? Who has the look you're going for? Who do you consider too thin? Followed by discussing actual fitness goals and not just looks.

At least then you're on the same planet when you start talking about what you hope to achieve. If your goal is long and lean, endurance cardio, and improved flexibility. Maybe you don't want to be deadlifting small cars every day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't deadlift at all. Or that you should never do any heavy lifting. It's about communicating effectively and finding the right balance.

There's also the part about being the best YOU and not constantly striving to look like somebody else, particularly somebody else with a totally different frame and build. But I do think it's helpful when people start talking about "bulky" to ask exactly what they mean.

To answer your question though. Fat loss is mostly diet related. Muscle building is mostly lifting related. Lift heavy and eat too much and you just get bigger. Undereat and don't lift at all and you get smaller and softer. Lift heavy at a substantial calorie deficit and all kinds of dramatic things happen (dents, veins, striations, abs). Train consistently, hard but not insanely heavy, at maintenance calories or a little lower and you get where I am now. Lean, happy, fit, and my jeans button. All good, so there's no need for me to analyze it much more than that.

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