Will Weightlifting Make Me Bulky?

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To kick things off, let's talk about what "bulky" is.  "Bulky" simple means you have a decent amount of body fat on top of muscle.  It's basically the opposite of being "toned."  "Toned indicates lower body fat on top of muscle.

The idea of being “bulky” often holds women back from lifting, and that is not something I want you to be held back from doing!

So, what I’m going to break this fear down is explain a few things bodybuilders do to tone and build muscle, and why you don’t need to worry about "bulking up."

Now am I a bodybuilder?  Ha! Not at all!  But I do understand their methods and how muscle growth works.

The most common type of training for bodybuilders is hypertrophy.  Hypertrophy is muscle growth (overlapping with but different than strength.)  This means the lifter is lifting a moderate amount of weight 8-12 times for 4-6 sets at an RPE of around 7-9.  This type of training makes muscles grow.  However, this isn’t the only thing that makes muscles grow.


What Makes Muscles Grow?

Aside from that specific rep range, hormones and diet play a key role in muscle growth.

99% of the time, male bodybuilders find it much easier to grow their muscles at a faster rate than women bodybuilders. 

Why? Hormones.  

Most women do not have the level of certain hormones necessary to grow muscle at the same rate as men.

Professional bodybuilders have dedicated their lives to this sport. What you see in their body is the result of years of hard work and dedication. Oftentimes, each day of the week is dedicated to a specific muscle group so that they can focus on all the little muscles within that group.


Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid of Weightlifting

So why should you not be afraid of training like this? Here are a few reasons:


  1. Most women don’t have the hormones necessary to build muscle that quickly. 
  2. Even if you do have the hormones necessary to build that kind of muscle,  it would take many years along with a good diet to look anything like that.  
  3. If you did begin to get to a size you are not comfortable with, you can always change your training method or scale back down to a size you were happy at and work on maintaining that.  
  4. This type of training allows you to eat more!  It’s not a license to eat whatever and whenever, but you don’t have to be as strict as if you’re just doing cardio a few days of the week.  Muscles burn calories even when you are sleeping.


My Personal Experience with Weightlifting

When I first started lifting, I unknowingly trained for hypertrophy (and still do with certain things).  My muscles sure did grow, but you know what didn’t? My size. My body composition changed drastically and I absolutely loved how I felt when I was training! 


Following that, I wanted to improve my strength (muscle density).  This involves lifting very heavyweight for 4-6 reps.  The size of your muscles will not grow as much as with the 8-12 rep range, but you will get stronger and more dense (more so than with hypertrophy). 


This is another option for those who get to the size they want to be and want to maintain.  What I have found makes me (I guess what you could call “bulky”) is high reps, plyometric work, lack of stretching, and poor nutrition.


Do You Want to Start Lifting?

My advice to all women is just to give it a shot!  Don’t try it for 3 weeks, try it for 3 months! Take it seriously, lift heavy, and start seeing results!  If you come to find that it isn’t for you, there are a million other different kinds of training waiting to be tried. One of them has your name on it and you just don’t know which one until you try and give it a fair shot.


Start Training the Right Way!

You don’t need to waste time…


  • wondering if you’re doing it right.
  • trying different exercises to work around pain, popping, and injuries.
  • starting and stopping because you lack accountability.

Check out my 1:1 Personal Training!


1:1 Personal Training

What past clients have said…

“If you're reading this and trying to decide if you should work with Estelle...I've been working with her consistently for nearly 15 months and when I started I could only deadlift 100lb.  Now I'm capable of over 200 for a single rep.  When I started I was only hip thrusting 45lbs. and now I can do 3 sets of 6 reps at 225+.  I am not bulky, and that "tone" is really starting to shine.  I've never been so confident in my body and it's beyond aesthetics.  I feel great.  I don't often experience back pain anymore (which used to be chronic)..and just..yes.  Say yes.  You won't regret it."

– Nicole D.`




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