Ignited by multiple inbox messages from inquiring women about “not wanting to get too muscular” but still wanting to tone, I opted to write my views in attempts to debunk the myth. Ladies, IT WONT HAPPEN! Women who do look muscular definitely did not get that way by accident. It takes years worth of diligent lifting to gain any sort of “bulky” looky muscles. People spend hours and hours attempting to build muscle and often those that DO have muscle have put large sums of their time in energy to LEARN how to do this. Building muscle is a skill that takes practice. You’re not going to take that “total tone” class at your gym, do a full body circuit hitting each muscle group for a few exercises and end up with broad shoulders and bulging biceps by the next week. (And yes, some of us WISH it WOULD happen this way.. which is why it is so frustrating when people continue to believe this myth)..
Take me for instance, do I look muscularly bulky? No. I have been diligently lifting for YEARS in attempt to gain muscle. I spend close to 2 hours a day, 5-7 days a week lifting weights and I STILL have a lot of muscle to put on. Any “bulk” that I may appear to have comes from whatever eating habits I am displaying at any given time. (I.E- post competition it is common for people to put on at LEAST 10-15lbs and very common to put on even 30-50lbs!. I’ve never bulked up because of my muscle mass [unfortunately, lol]..this is another topic though)..When I am in the midst of competition prep and I AM shredded out so that my muscles show I still do not look bulky. On stage I stand around 5’4”, 108lbs. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would find that “big”. There was nothing big or bulky about the way I look. My body was achieved by using weight lifting to sculpt and firm my muscles. Cardio was merely a tool to shed the FAT that was around these muscles. The muscle mass you have does not make you bulky, the fat around those muscles is what will make you look big.
Those of you who continue to hold fast to the notion that you do not “need” to lift weights to reach your ideal of a fit body should really think twice. Coming from a previous/reformed cardio queen myself, I can assure you that weight lifting is the secret ingredient to carving your body into a nice, LEAN shape. Cardio will help you burn fat, yes..but too much cardio will ALSO make you start losing muscle mass. What happens here is that you become skinnier, but basically a smaller version of your current self..This has been termed “skinny fat”..you may be thin, but you still look soft and untoned. Cardio is, of course, very important to incorporate..but cardio alone will not get you the results you’re looking for.
Still not convinced? What if I told you the more muscle you have, the more calories your body will use up even simply at a resting state? More muscle=more food! When is that ever a bad thing!? Let’s not sprint away all our muscle on the treadmill. Muscle is GOOD to have. Albeit, as I have stated, you will NOT gain mass due to muscle unless you have committed much of your life to doing so.
I found an excerpt from one of my favorite weight lifting books. It is the first book I read that helped me understand how to put together a proper workout structure. Here is a passage to back up my writing:
Lou Schuler writes in The New Rules of Lifting for Women:
“... it's really hard to put on muscle size, it never happens by accident, and every bit of it is a sign of success against all odds. And that's with all the hormonal advantages that nature gives to men. Meanwhile, women, naturally deprived of the amounts of testosterone that would make muscle-building a more straightforward pursuit, worry endlessly about adding so much muscle.... So this brings me to the fourth dirty word [of women's weight training]: bulky. As in 'I don't want to get too bulky.'
I'll say this as simply as I can: Unless you're an extreme genetic outlier, you can't get too bulky."
All together, I hope that what you have gotten out of this is that your workout regimen would guarantee you the BEST results if you incorporate strength training into your regime as well as cardio. A combination of the two is going to allow you to 1) burn fat 2) build lean muscle 3) sculpt your body composition so that you have a nice shape. I hope that some of these points resonate with you. I wish I had let go of my stubborn ideas that an hour+ of cardio twice a day would be the only ingredient I needed to get my perfect body. I would have saved myself a lot of time and trouble when I first started out on my journey if I had just LISTENED to what the experienced fitness professionals were saying. I hope you can too!
.::*I AM: Two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality*::.
NPC Bikini Fitness Competitor and Fitness Model
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