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June 15, 2011 / Angela McCuiston

Women: How NOT to Get Bulky

Bret Contreras » Where My Ladies At?.

Bret recently posted this post and I got amazingly inspired by it – enough to write my own post!

Watching these girls is inspiring and makes me want to go practice my squatting and deadlifting right now!

Notice that NONE of these girls are what you would call bulky.  So why are you still waving around the pink dumbbells?  Pick up some real weight and you’ll get a body like these!  These are my favorite clips:

These clips go a looooooooong way to dispelling the myth that lifting heavy will make women bulky.  Would you consider any of these women “bulky”?  I thought not. If anything, these videos should inspire you to go see just what YOU can do!

Speaking of the “bulky” myth, it’s been hashed over and over and over again and it sees that no matter how many times those of us in the industry try to dispel it, the marketing gurus are one step ahead.

Ladies, it’s almost impossible for you to get huge.  The huge you are afraid of becoming is limited to women who 1) take steroids 2) take steriods and get big muscles and then diet to very low bodyfat making them LOOK bigger.  Neither of those things applies to 99% of the female population.  Do you take illegal performance enhancing drugs?  No?  Then don’t worry about getting “bulky”.

I bet most of you, would not mind looking like the very first Ms. Olympia, Rachel McLish

Compare that to the CURRENT Ms. Olympia, Ms. Iris Kyle, and I have the feeling that to most women, THIS is what they fear becoming.  To them, this is bulky.

As you can see, there is a huge difference between the two women, yet Rachel embodied what used to be women’s body building.  I am not incriminating Ms. Kyle in any way, however, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to get her body without “help”.  So, do you want Rachel’s body?  Lift like the women in the videos above and read on.

To break things down to their simplest forms here’s what goes on when it comes to training

  1. The amount of volume and amount of weight you use to train can have different effects.  You can train for strength, endurance, size, stability or power (not necessarily in that order).
  2. Lifting heavy does not necessarily mean you will get big.  See these women up there?  If anything, the heavier you lift, the SMALLER you get.  You will become more dense, more compact, have less body fat and become smaller because you lift heavier weights.  If you want to stick to your elliptical machine, that’s fine, but don’t be surprised when your body doesn’t change the way you think it should.
  3. If you want to lift for size, you have to work HARD.
  4. Unless your diet is spot on and to some degree a bit obsessive, you have very little chance of losing enough body fat to have the detail and definition of a figure competitor or cover model.  Could you look like Rachel?  Maybe.  Iris? No way.

What does it mean to lift hard?

Ask yourself these questions

  • Did I break a sweat?
  • Did I feel shaky on the inside because I just couldn’t lift any heavier?
  • Did I get out of breath?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you likely aren’t doing yourself any favors in the gym – you’re just kidding yourself.  Now, there’s a time and a place for stability training and workouts that don’t make you feel the need to sit down, but those type of workouts are generally short in duration (meaning 2 weeks or so) and are generally implemented during a break from weight training or at the beginning of a weight training program, or after you have cycled through several phases of a workout.

That brings me to my next point.

If you want to see progress, you have to:

  • Challenge yourself.…never lifted a 20 lb. weight before? Go ahead, try it
  • Lift heavier than is comfortable for you on a CONSISTANT basis
  • have a consistant, periodized training program (this means you do the same workouts for a period of time, all the while still challenging yourself by adding weight, time, speed, etc. to the exercises to make it harder, before progressing to harder phase)
  • Take a break – seriously, take a week off every now and then
  • EAT!

As women, we DESPERATELY want to change our bodies, but most of us don’t.  Why?  We’re afraid, mostly of what we don’t know. Afraid we’ll get big and not fit into our clothes, afraid of getting stared at, afraid of doing things that only guys do in the weight room, afraid of ridicule, etc.  Sound familar?

Changing your body composition is HARD, I mean really hard!  And if you haven’t seen the results you want ask yourself “how much CHALLENGE have I really put into it?”  Have you been lifting the same 10 lb. dumbells for the last 10 years?  Do you spend an hour on the elliptical every day with no change?  To see results, you have to go outside your comfort zone. Is it worth it?  Ask yourself this:
Am I happy spending the rest of my life here?
Is anything worth getting, free?

The answer starts with “no”….:)

Hear me.  If you want the bodies of the women in these videos you have to

  1. Lift heavier than you are now and consistantly continue to lift heavier.  That girl didn’t do a Turkish get-up with that weight from the beginning, she had to work up to it.  So do you.
  2. EAT.  If you want to gain muscle size, muscle strength and/or lose body fat, you have to eat for it.  Meaning, if your diet consists of Lean Cuisine meals and sunflower seeds, stop kidding yourself.  Get at least 1g per pound of body weight in protein a day.  No idea what that means? That means recording what you put in your mouth and being purposeful about it.
  3. Rest.  If you are lifting heavy enough to change your body, your body has to repair itself in order to change.  If you lift 5 days a week, really heavy, really hard and you’re training the same muscle groups all the time, you will suffer major burn out – physically, mentally and emotionally.  Don’t let this happen to you.  You don’t need to train 5 days a week anyway.  3 days a week of TOTAL BODY work is enough.
  4. Understand.  This is not the stuff you read about in Self magazine.  You might read about it to an extent in Muscle and Fitness Hers or in Oxygen, but honestly,they are magazines, ladies.  They are for ENTERTAINMENT purposes.  Can you get some good information there?  Sure.  Everything you need to know?  Heck no.  Read good blogs and articles from people who KNOW what they’re talking about.  Don’t believe everything that comes out of some guru’s mouth just because it worked for a couple of people.  Find what works for you and understand the RESEARCH.  Here are some people worth checking out for real knowledge:

Leigh Peele

Nia Shanks

JCD Fitness

Alan Aragon

Lyle McDonald

Mike Robertson

Eric Cressey

Martin Berkhan

The FitCast Podcast

And of course, the guy who put up the videos – Bret Contreras  otherwise known as “The Glute Guy” for his EXTENSIVE research on butt training.  Not even kidding.

Of course, these are just a few, but start reading and you’ll soon not only find links to other smart fitness people, you will very quickly be able to tell the marketing nonsense from the truth.

If you are left with more questions than answers after reading this post (aka, ok! Now I know what NOT to do…but I have no idea what TO do!),you need to hire a competent personal trainer.  They will set up your program for you to walk you through correct form, periodization, etc. and pretty soon you’ll be well on your way to getting the results you want.  I currently have openings for in person and online training clients, so contact me and we’ll get you set up!
So, get lifting, and send me your videos of how heavy YOU lift!!!!

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