Does Lifting Weights Make You Bulky?


……Ever hear / been told / read somewhere lifting weights makes you ‘bulky”?

This is one of the biggest conundrums in the fitness industry and as a coach with nearly 20 years’ experience, a common question and shared concern, especially among women.

Not exactly sure when/how this rumor started but thinking it’s directly linked to the old days when gyms were filled with body building bros in muscle T’s grunting like Hulk Hogan.

So…….should you lift weights and chance it or, stick with cardio-laden activities to avoid the “bulk” all together?

I’m feeling saucy and am going to answer that question with a question:

  • IF ‘bulk’ is NOT the aesthetic you are going for, what type of workout should you do?

  • And, what workouts should you absolutely avoid so you don’t bulk up?

First, let’s talk about the word “bulky”. When used in this instance, bulky has a negative connotation; leading us to feel nervous and hesitant to lift weights.

This is especially true IF you are looking for an exercise program to make your body leaner and / or more “toned”.

For example:

  • You have a special event coming up, and you want to look really good in your new dress!

  • Spring break is on the horizon, and you’d like to feel more confident walking down the beach.

  • You are coming off the holidays and clothes feel more snug than usual.

Second, let’s examine what we mean by “heavy weights”. Heavy will be different for everyone and is relative to what is doable yet challenging for YOU. Heavy does not mean “body builder” status.

So as a woman, what are you supposed to believe?

  • If you have been avoiding that one gym or exercise program because it uses weights and there’s no way you are spending time and money just to get bulky, we hear you and are here to share the truth!

  • If you have been exercising, using weights and noticing your body feels “bulky” and is NOT transforming the way you want, we are also here to help you understand what’s going on and what you need to do to change.

So …is it or is it NOT true?!

The truth is, this rumor is SO NOT TRUE!

By lifting weights, you are doing the exact opposite of getting bulky!

You are actually helping your body build lean muscle and get stronger (this is especially important as we age). Having MORE muscle doesn’t lead to looking and feeling bulky but in fact, the exact opposite!

The MORE muscle you have, the leaner your body becomes and the more TONED your body appears.

Wait WHAT?! ……Got your attention now?

Good, ’cause lifting weights is arguably one of THE BEST things you can do for yourself and not just for aesthetic purposes but for better health and quality of life so that you can live longer!

Keep reading to learn how lifting weights will completely transform your body so it’s stronger and more muscular or, what most refer to as “tone and defined”.


Unfortunately, this common misconception has gotten so out of control, it’s become the exact hurdle standing in the way of improving your overall health and HOW you want to transform your body.

Lifting weights, especially heavy weights, does increase the size of your muscles (this is called hypertrophy). However, doing so DOES NOT mean your body gets big and bulky.

That is just not how this stuff all works (read that again!).

By lifting weights, you are helping your body build muscle and get stronger (this is especially important as we age). Having MORE muscle doesn’t lead to looking and feeling bulky. In fact, it’s the exact opposite!

The MORE muscle you have, the more LEAN your body becomes and the more TONED your body appears.

So, what does make us look and feel bulky or bigger?


So all this time we were mislead into thinking bulk is associated with having too much muscle when in fact, bulk has everything to do with body fat? That’s bananas!

Biggest Takeaway: If you do not want to look or feel bulky, you need to decrease your body fat and build more muscle.

Why? Because the more muscle you have, the more fat your body burns, the leaner you become and the more “toned” your body appears.

One effective way to accomplish all of this is to lift heavy weights – remember, “heavy” is relative to what YOU can do!

Let’s now revisit those concerns from the beginning of this blog to make sure you have the whole truth:

  • You been avoiding the gym or exercise program because it uses weights and there’s no way your spending time and money just to get bulky.

    • Time to start picking up those weights! To get started, find a coach / trainer who can teach you the right way to exercise and lift weights.

    • You want to do this safely and effectively, so you get the very best results and don’t get injured. Investing the time and money to work with certified experts is well worth it ‘cause well, you’re worth it!

    • If you are new to lifting weights, you do NOT want to do this alone. The other barrier to lifting weights is not knowing what to do and how to do it. Leave that stuff to the experts like your coaches here at Results Fitness!

    • If you need help, email us HERE and you’ll be contacted immediately by an RF coach.

  • You have been lifting weights and noticing your body feels “bulky” and is NOT transforming the way you want.

    • It’s very common to feel hungrier when you start exercising and lifting weights as your body adapts to this increase in activity.

    • During these times, you are highly likely to eat more than you realize or, think you can and should be eating more because you’re exercising.

    • Regardless of if you are exercising or not, if you are eating more calories than you are burning this will lead to weight gain. Exercising doesn’t cancel out a bad diet and mean we can eat whatever we want.

Let me explain: it is DETRIMENTAL to note eating a healthy, well-balanced diet of lean proteins, smart carbohydrates, heart healthy fats and tons of vegetables plays an important role for transforming and reshaping your body.

Your exercise program is only as good as what you’re eating. Although regular exercise and good nutrition are both important, what you eat will have a bigger impact on transforming your body compared to exercise alone.

Lifting weights is super important for building muscle but eating a well-balanced diet is KEY to promote bigger changes and transform your body.

To get rid of the “bulk”, it comes down to food QUALITY and QUANTITY: what you’re eating and how much.

You must burn more calories than you eat and you must focus on eating real foods in the recommended portions!

What the heck are “real’’ foods?

Examples: Think lean proteins (chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, eggs/egg whites), smart carbohydrates (fruits, beans, whole grains, potatoes/ sweet potatoes), heart healthy fats (nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocado, oil, coconut, olives) and TONS of veggies.

[For more on this, check out our blog on losing weight and body fat HERE!]


If you are still not convinced about lifting weights, let’s talk about the sciencey stuff.

The truth is, building excessive muscle to look like a body builder is not easily achievable. Majority of us will never train or eat to get to that level and if you were, you’d know it!

This is a very deliberate, super specific strategy and process that goes far beyond what most of us are doing or ever will.

1. The Process: Building Muscle Takes Increased Time + Effort

Time, dedication and consistency are the KEY components to building muscle. Hypertrophy, or increased muscle mass, is a long, slow process taking years of intense strength training.

Most of us do not have the time or the effort to be bodybuilders, this is why there are an elite few. So, no worries about looking like Arnold anytime soon!

2. Testosterone: Women Do Not Produce As Much As Men

Testosterone is one of the many factors required of our bodies in building muscle mass. In general, women DO NOT produce as much testosterone as men. Since women naturally have less testosterone, they build muscle at a slower pace.

3. Calories + Protein: Not eating enough calories or protein to support muscle growth

To build excessive muscle, you must be eating more calories than you burn. If you are eating less calories than you are burning or maintaining calories, it is unlikely you will build new muscle tissue.

For reference purposes, it is recommended healthy women eat between 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day. If you are exercising, highly active, or have a bigger stature, you need to be at the higher end of that range. Unless you are consistently going over that range, no need to worry about getting bulky.

Packing on a lot of muscle takes excessive calories, time, protein, and testosterone- more than you may think. So, if you are a woman reading this, lifting weights will NOT make you bulky!

Lifting weights will make YOU:







Now that we’ve cleared the air and you understand lifting weights does NOT make you bulky but in fact, healthier and leaner, let’s examine more specifically, why lifting weights enhances your quality of life forever and ever:

  • By having stronger muscles, tendons, and ligaments you improve your joint stability and overall movement quality so daily activities like walking, going up the stairs, getting out of bed, picking up your kids/grandkids, and hauling groceries feels easy instead of hard.

  • You will decrease your body fat while burning MORE calories for a longer time (up to 36 hours even after you’ve done lifting weights). The same cannot be said for cardio-only activities like running, jogging, spinning, and cycling.

  • You will increase your bone density, exactly what you want to be focusing on as you age because strong bones makes us more resilient!

  • You become HEALTHIER! Lifting weights helps to decrease your risk for chronic disease so you can enjoy quality of life with the people you love!

  • More HAPPINESS! You will feel stronger, more empowered, and super confident! Lifting weights has a lasting effect on our mood and mental health.

Lifting weights notably is one of the BEST things you can do for yourself. Again, dong it the right way and moving through each exercise with good technique and form is crucial. Find yourself a coach who can ‘show you the ropes’ and help you have some fun while doing it!

It’s time to get rid of the word ‘bulky’ and instead, concentrate on practicing consistent, healthy habits with exercising regularly (lifting those heavy weights!) and eating real foods in the correct portions to look and feel our very best!

Now, grab those weights, and let’s get stronger together!

Questions about lifting weights? Nervous and / or new to this all and unsure what to do and don’t want to get injured? Looking for a coach for support and guidance?

Book a FREE INTRO session with our team and learn how we can work together so you feel your best, look your best and achieve your goals!


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