One of my average married neighbors was trying to get into shape earlier this year, to A) be better able to climb a peak in the northwest (Mount Rainier I think) and B) to look and feel better. I lent him my copy of Insanity DVDs (you know the ones, you’ve seen the infomercial with Shawn T) which are actually not to bad for High Intensity Training work if you actually do them. I did them a couple years ago and leaned out some, which was my goal at the time, and was actually very fit as a result. Mr. Neighbor liked the DVDs as he could fit them in the morning in his routine. For us married guys with kids, cutting out time to do any sort of workout can be challenging. So multiple times, I’ve offered Mr. Neighbor the opportunity to see some REAL results by lifting weights in my home gym (described and pictured here). He always turns me down, saying he didn’t want to get “bulky.” I LOL every time.
I’ll post some pictures at some point, but I am and always will consider myself a hard gainer. I graduated High School at about 120 lbs, but could bench nearly twice my bodyweight and was pretty strong coming out of our wrestling program. I transitioned to running and triathlons and stayed lean for much of my adult life. Just in the last few years I started lifting heavy and gained maybe 20 lbs (or 30 lbs over my leanest in pre-competition phase of long-distance triathlons). I’m still not huge by any means and with clothes on look pretty normal.
I think if it’s actually really, really hard to get muscles and getting too “bulky” isn’t anything most of us really need to worry about, especially not my neighbor, or most women who are afraid to lift weights. I check out a few sites like Lift Big, Eat Big that actually promote strength and bulk and even then it takes a lot of dedication and TONS of calories for most women to gain mass and bulk (and the ladies there are training for things like Strong Man competitions). Below is one of the LBEB sponsored athletes, Talia. If you can get past the tattoos and skrillex haircut, you can see she’s “thicker” on the right but still looks like a woman (she weighed 145 in left pic, June 2012; 175 in right pic, April 2013). That’s a lot of weight gain, but remember SHE SPECIFICALLY LIFTED AND TRAINED FOR THAT STRENGTH/WEIGHT GAIN. You aren’t going to “accidentally” bulk up unless that is your goal.
The average lady doing Crossfit type lifts or even power lifting is likely to gain some muscle, maybe even some weight, but still won’t get that “bulky.” LBEB had this fun list: 10 Reasons Why Heavy Lifting is Terrible for Women, a tongue in cheek view from the uneducated peanut gallery. NerdFitness also promotes good eating and lifting among other things. They had a nice two part article on a newby regular gal who made some big improvements and found she liked power lifting (she allegedly deadlifts 385 lb and squats 255#). Really good articles for the ladies especially.
From Part 2:
You can absolutely change your body shape (in your favor) through exercise. I actually LOVE having bigger shoulders because as a pear shaped woman, wider shoulders help even me out. If you get your diet under control you’ll lean out and look amazing. And any changes to your body do not happen overnight, so you can adjust as you go.
Steve: If you could go back and fix one mistake you made back when you got started, what would it be?
You know, I look back and I see so many mistakes that I made: starting out with the elliptical, no weights, and joining Weight Watchers instead of learning about proper diet. But I wouldn’t change any of them, because what I needed at first was for things to be easy. If I had known I was actually supposed to be eating differently and actually supposed to be lifting weights, I probably would have been so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t have started at all.
The biggest mistake I made in my entire journey, was letting it take over my life and become an obsession. When I was overweight, I would look in the mirror and say “ugh, I need to lose a few pounds” and then go on with my day. But after I started to lose weight, I started looking in the mirror and seeing 30 things that needed to change; that’s when I developed an eating disorder and BDD, and that was when everything started to go wrong.
So I think for us mere mortals who aren’t taking steroids, we shouldn’t worry about getting too bulky. Yeah, your sleeves may feel a little tighter and the seat of your pants may be snug (squats people!), but isn’t that primarily the point: Looking Better Naked and having a few muscles? Oh, yeah, and this too: