One of the most widely spread myths about strength training is that it makes women big and bulky. Despite obvious claims against it, many women still have this irrational fear that they will end up looking like a man if they touch a dumbbell heavier than their purse. But why?
When I was on holiday recently, I was flipping through my stepmother-in-law’s (is that a thing? It is now!) copy of Vanity Fair. In the health and fitness section at the back of the magazine, there was a quote that made my blood boil. It was from Valerie Waters, a personal trainer to the stars. I don’t have the exact wording but it was close to this:
“Other trainers are going to hate me for saying this, but there is a limit to how much weight a woman should lift. Lifting heavy weights will bulk you up, so you must stick to lighter reps for lots of repetitions.”
Of course other trainers will hate you for that – you’re an idiot! Valerie screams Tracy Anderson-wannabe, so it’s obvious why she would take a similar nonsensical approach to female training. Despite the crap she comes out with, I actually happen to think Tracy is a genius – instead of taking the high road and educating people about the true benefits of weight lifting, she is taking advantage of women’s fears and insecurities to make millions.
If you think about it, whoever invented the world ‘bulky’ is also a genius. Weight lifting is a relatively recent phenomenon, particularly outside of the US, and it has never been something that women have participated in. All of a sudden, women began saying they didn’t want to lift weights for fear of getting bulky. The people in the fitness industry who throw around the word bulky are doing it so they can sell product after product to you – none of them will work, but you will keep searching for that ‘perfect’ potion.
Tell me, what women do you know who picked up a weight and turned into the incredible hulk overnight? Despite this never happening naturally, even after years of training, women still seem to think it will. Getting ‘bulky’ just doesn’t happen overnight.
You know how you get bulky? By eating FOOD! At the end of the day, the type of weight lifting you do has very little effect on your physique. Whether you are performing sets of five or sets of 15 reps, you will see similar results following the exact same diet. The composition of your muscle fibres will be affected in different ways, but it will be almost impossible to distinguish between the overall aesthetic results.
I have previously talked about a puffiness that might occur when you begin lifting weights here, but it is only temporary. If you are lifting weights and feeling bulky, then it’s just because your diet is off and you have too much fat sitting on top of your muscle! Building muscle doesn’t make you bulky, but having excess fat does. You simply need to shed the fat to reveal the beautiful new muscle underneath!
Are there any fitness words like bulky you hate?
PS. I’m off to Ibiza today with my best friend, but I’ll be back on Monday! I’m starting to think I should turn Sweat like a Pig into a travel blog 😉