Don’t Worry, You Won’t ‘Bulk-up’ from Working Out…Unless you want to!

“Bulking-up” or “getting bigger” is a worry that many of you have when it comes to adding resistance training to your work out program. This is one of many myths that run rampant on the floors of fitness clubs across the country. The concern that working out with weights or doing resistance training leads to big, bulky muscles is an unnecessary worry that is inhibiting many of you from reaching your weight and fat loss goal sooner.

All too often people are working hard, dieting and doing great cardio routines to lose weight. But when you ask them if they are doing any resistance or weight training you get a very common answer—“No, I am worried about bulking up, and I don’t want to get big.”

The added benefits of increased strength, balance and bone density are just a few of the missed benefits you deprive yourself of when you don’t add-in resistance training—oh yeah, and let’s not forget the fact that it will help trim your waistline even faster.

Your muscles build strength and density as you add payload or resistance as form of stress to exhaust them—or work out your muscles. By doing this you increase your activity level and burn more calories, which helps you to lose weight, and it is important to remember that muscle takes up about a third less space than does fat pound for pound. Essentially, a person who weighs 165 pounds and is 25 percent body fat takes up more space, and looks bigger, than a person who is 165 pounds and 11 percent body fat.

There is a simple FACT that should help ease your fear of putting on bulky muscles: You cannot and will not get bigger if you are losing weight! That’s right; if you are in a calorie deficit and you are not gaining weight then you won’t get bigger. Your body needs additional calories and the necessary nutrients to build muscle and expand its mass. It doesn’t matter if the size you gain is muscle or fat the principle for gaining weight and size remains the same. The simple fact is that you have to eat more and gain weight in order to “get bigger.”

In fact, putting on muscle mass is very difficult. It takes great discipline to build large muscles for those who want to do so; the steps to build “big muscles”—food choices, calorie intake and workouts—are considerably different from those of someone who is looking to lose weight.

Resistance and/or weight training is great for your body’s wellbeing and any weight loss goal. Know the facts and science behind the workouts that relate to your goal, and ignore the myths and fads that are out there. Share the facts and our blog with your family and friends, and be sure to come back for more TOP TIPS when you sign up for our RSS feed so you can continue Living Healthy!

Posted on April 19, 2012, in exercise, fitness, fitness club, funny, funny fitness, Health, LA Fitness Blog - Living Healthy, LA Fitness Blog - Top Tips, LA Fitness Reviews - About, Motivation, Motivational Tips, Top Tips, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. I recently lost 50 pounds on a low carb diet. For the past three months, I have been lifitng three days a week at LA Fitness and have put on muscle. I want more muscle, but I don’t know if I’m eating enough. What foods should I be eating to bulk up? How much carbs? Should I be eating carbs on lifting days or off days? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

  2. and for women it’s even more difficult to bulk up- even with heavy weights- due to naturally lower levels of testosterone in the body

  3. Reblogged this on InspiredWeightloss! and commented:
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  4. Additional calories and protein are definitely needed to add muscle mass. So many women have this fear of bulking up, but it takes tremendous effort to put on serious muscle mass.
    Sara

  5. Very good blog. Many people lie themselves by just jumping in fitness clubs or tried too hard to be fit. To look healthy body nerd combination: weight lifting, aerobic, other activities. Same is with diet..

  6. Winlett Banton

    I am in a weight loss challenge at work. I am not able to do a lot of heavy cardio because of osteoarthritis So I started adding at least two days of weight training; but instead of losing the pounds, I weigh more. I see a difference in inches in my waist line. I need to lose the weight. What am i doing wrong.

    • When you are weight training, often times you will see the numbers go up on the scale and become worried that you are gaining weight. That’s the problem with scales. They just tell you how much you weigh but say nothing about your body composition. I weight 15 pounds more then i did last year, but my body fat has gone down 8 percent. Use photos, your bf% and measurements to gage your progress, not the scale. As for your challenge at work, if you aren’t familiar already–read up on HITT and Circuit training on the days you do cardio, it will help blast the fat.

    • To lose weight you need to burn more carlioes than you consume and it doesn’t really matter if you walk, run, or bike.any exercise will tone your muscles or burn fat, it depends on what and how you are doing it.Running will tone the muscles, you need to lift weights to build muscles.Time is more of a factor than what you are doing, so if you run you finish sooner than if you walk, but the results will be the same if the distance is the same.

      • There is a big difference between running and walking a mile (or 5 miles). Running puts your body under a healthy stress and will burn more calories, boost your metabolism, and much much more.

  7. highlevelworkout

    Great, informative article. Thanks

  8. As a fitness trainer, I can’t tell you how many clients – mostly women! – express this concern from day 1 of training … If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it 1000 times: “I want to lose weight and tone up – NOT get big!” … “Oh no – not free weights! I don’t want to get bulky.”… “But I heard cardio is the best way to lose fat” … etc. To ALL I say: 1. While cardio certainly serves its place, if it’s all you do it’s also going to be all you’re ever capable of doing (and if you’re doing cardio while fiddling with your smart phone or reading the paper, you’re really just moving your feet! … 2. Study the people doing mainly cardio (+ possibly 3 sets of 10 super light reps on machines) vs. the people wailing on free weights for a month or two and see who’s actually made some tangible progress … 3. Since men have more testosterone than women, they can naturally build more muscle – yet, even so, if a man wants to ‘lose weight’ his best bet it to build muscle, forget about his weight, and focus on how much wailing on weights is completely changing his body for the better on every level! (and this goes for the ladies too! 🙂 Bottom line is this post is TOTALLY on point and if you’re not lifting free weights, you’re doing your body a GREAT disservice!

  9. My thoughts: As a fitness trainer, I can’t tell you how many clients – mostly women! – express this concern from day 1 of training … If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it 1000 times: “I want to lose weight and tone up – NOT get big!” … “Oh no – not free weights! I don’t want to get bulky.”… “But I heard cardio is the best way to lose fat” … etc. To ALL I say: 1. While cardio certainly serves its place, if it’s all you do it’s also going to be all you’re ever capable of doing (and if you’re doing cardio while fiddling with your smart phone or reading the paper, you’re really just moving your feet! … 2. Study the people doing mainly cardio (+ possibly 3 sets of 10 super light reps on machines) vs. the people wailing on free weights for a month or two and see who’s actually made some tangible progress … 3. Since men have more testosterone than women, they can naturally build more muscle – yet, even so, if a man wants to ‘lose weight’ his best bet it to build muscle, forget about his weight, and focus on how much wailing on weights is completely changing his body for the better on every level! (and this goes for the ladies too! 🙂 Bottom line is this post is TOTALLY on point and if you’re not lifting free weights, you’re doing your body a GREAT disservice!
    Sally
    http://www.facebook.com/PlanetSharkFitness

  10. Great point, planetshark. Men have more testosterone than women. Hence the reason we put on muscle. Your diet also plays a huge role. As the article states if you have to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight. I would like to add that you can achieve this by eating less complex carbs such as potatoes, oatmeal, rice and cereal. Instead eat more carbs like vegetables and fruits which provide less calories.
    Women will get toned but not bulky. They should keep in mind that muscle burns fat. It is a legitimate concern they have about getting bulky. However, with informative articles like this it should reduce any concerns they may have.

    • I agree, Keeon. But the low-carb fad can be very misleading. Many people forget that going low carb requires a slight increase in healthy fats. I see people all the time that go low carb and don’t understand why they don’t lose weight. Usually, it’s because the body thinks a caloric deficit means to store fat. And each body is different. Mine responds best to very high carb (about 800g). I’m able to stay lean and put on quality size.

  11. Also, if you don’t want to ‘bulk-up’, while exercising with weights, it helps to go for a faster moves versus slow work-out.

  12. So true! If it were that simple to get huge gyms would be filled with monsters. Diet (including water), rest, supplementation, proper training, and not to mention genetics are key in adding muscle. Weight training should be part of everyone’s exercise program. Thanks for the entry!

  13. Never been in to the BULK look. On myself or men. Strong is better than bulky.

  14. I don’t know…my girlfriend is 5.9″ was 130 lb, is a member at LA, and has gained 20lb in muscle in one year. Now at 150lb she’s trying to get lean..
    She is definitely way bigger.

  15. I don’t like it when people use the term bulky because all I see on my head are the guys from the strong man competitions on TV. They are so big that they are bulky. We an official set of terms. Also, I think that picture is hilarious.

  16. You said it Adam! Because hypertrophy exists in the middle of the range of percentages of 1RM, for muscular endurance reps per set of 12-15 are going to be the way to go. This way you get the bennies of strength, without the “bulking.” Shoot, you could even turn it into a circuit and that way you’d be burning fat as a primary fuel source. An interval based muscualr endurance circuit where you take 4 or five stations that work multiple muscle groups across multiple planes and spend 1 min at each station doing as many reps as possible, then equal rest, would give you that metabolic boost without the bulk. go get it you kings and queens of the muscles!

  17. This was a really good post, though in my case I wish it were easy to gain muscle mass as a woman! I know that muscle weighs more than fat does and I’ve read something along the line that if a woman has more muscle before her metabolism starts slowing down as she gets older, the less likely she is to become overweight. I’m turning 30 next year and am 5’5″ 105lbs with no muscle tone at all. I don’t know if this is the right place to ask but what kind of diet and workout plan should I get on to gain as much muscle as a woman realistically can?

    • Christina,
      Try a heavy protine diet and exercises tht built muscle such as stair climbers and bicycling. Also try the weight machines with additional weights added every so often.
      However, your build already sounds perfect but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      Tink.

      • Thank you very much! I drink Ensure Plus as well as my normal meals for extra calories, maybe I’ll switch over to the high protein version 🙂

  18. masa muscular

    thanks for the tips, I need the picture is very funny hehehe

  19. Very nice article, totally what I wanted to
    find.

  20. whoah this weblog is fantastic i really like studying your posts.
    Keeep up the great work! You recognize, a lot of persons are looking aroun for this information, you can aid them greatly.

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