*This blog post originally appeared March 17, 2014 in my Strong Curves blog on Wordpress.
Nearly every potential client utters that phrase to me. My response is "Look at me. Do I look bulky?"
The fear of bulking comes from, I think, the body builders you see in magazines. It's hard to get through the mind of the potential client that body builders have an intense training schedule, a specific food plan, and possibly (for some) a little help from "supplements". The average person, especially the average woman, will not bulk up like a body builder if he/she lifts weights.
One of the important factors for muscle growth is the hormone testosterone. We women lack the amount of testosterone needed for serious muscle growth. The average male produces 300-1,000 ng/dl (nanograms per deciiter), while the average female produces only 15-70 ng/dl. That is a huge difference.
BULK OR SHAPE
Another reason women may believe lifting heavy leads to bulk is because she may already be on the heavier side. Adding muscle size to her heavier body may be perceived as "bulk". The muscle will not grow to an enormous size, for reasons stated above. The muscle will change shape and firm up. If the fat that is on top of the muscle does not come off, the changes in the muscle may seem like bulk. The goal is to strengthen those muscles, while losing the body fat. Lifting weights will help with losing body fat, along with a diet consisting of fresh, whole foods (fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes).
Lifting heavier weights has its benefits. The stronger the muscles are, the stronger the bones are. Lifting the more challenging weights can help to stimulate the growth hormone, which is responsible for increased bone density and increased lean body mass.
Another benefit of heavier lifting is increased ligament and core stability. This benefit is more prevalent when using free weights rather than machines. Machines take away ligament and core stability by supporting the user in a fixed position. Free weights require the ligaments and stabilizing muscles to work in order to keep the weight steady.
Probably the best benefit is creating those strong, sexy curves!
If you are unsure how to use the free weights or are a bit intimidated heading over to the free weight section, talk to the trainer at your gym. He or she can help you get started and teach you how to use the weights safely.
Once you realize you are getting stronger, you may want to flaunt it. I say flaunt away! One thing, though, don't completely emasculate your man. Allow him to open up that jar of peanut butter for you once in a while! ;)
Here's to those strong curves!