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Toning vs. Bulking Up: The Real Facts

5 Myths and Truths about Strength Training


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  • Thank you for your time.
  • When I was young, my gym teacher put an emphasis on girls not bulking up from weight lifting--it seemed relevant then (60s) but now so much as changed, even just visiting places like pintrest, youtube, or private blogs--most gals want to bulk up a bit--this idea that gals want to tone but not bulk up is a bit outdated for some gals.
  • Thanks for writing this article. Very helpful.
  • Thank You for the great information.
  • good info, thanks
  • Working with a heavy weight won't turn most people into the incredible hulk. I've worked with many females who have used resistance training (with a weight that was difficult enough that they can only do about 10 reps) and getting huge like a body builder is not the outcome. Instead, their bodies would get firmer over time, they would develop some (but not tons of) muscle, and also would gain confidence and the strength to do things they had not before. Don't underestimate that last point because it is a great feeling to be able to lift your kid with ease or carry an extra bag or two of groceries into the house and find that these every day activities don't cause you the same trouble they used to.

    The bulky look that people talk about is typical when someone has added muscle but they still have a layer (or two) of body fat over that new muscle and it exaggerates their appearance.

    Finally, when attempting a challenging resistance exercise, initially we may not be mentally prepared to push ourselves to that level necessary to achieve results we're looking for. Really giving it your all and using all your might is something that some people will find a difficult thing to do. In that case we have to learn how to take it to that other gear where we are really giving our 100% effort. When adopting resistance training as part of your workout, if you're not working safely and correctly with a weight that is challenging you are wasting your time.

    I encourage you to find out just truly how strong you are and, with the guidance of someone who can direct you how to perform the exercises if you don't know how, get to moving some challenging weight and getting stronger! I promise you you'll be happy with the result.
  • The question that should be asked is, "So what if you get bigger if you get bigger if you lift heavy weights." Women have been told for centuries that they have to conform to a certain shape. The beauty box we all have to fit into never gets any bigger. It's time we all say FTS and just get in shape and stop listening to the people who say we have to be as small as possible. All of us will respond to training differently. We try to resist our shapes by trying to find that miracle workout, but our bodies, even when seriously fit, will be what they will be. If that means your thicker, so what? Are you healthy, living your best life, in the best shape? Great. Stop letting society dictate what you look like and telling you it's wrong to get big. Get fit. Get strong. Let your body be what it's going to be and thumb your nose at anyone who dares to tell you that you are taking up too much space. Own your space, women!
  • I really wanted to check out the link The Perfect Strength Workout for Beginners, but it took me to a blank page--disappointing.
    I wish people would stop saying it's not possible for women to build muscle like men unless they have a testosterone imbalance. I was a petite dancer and a gymnast with a "lean" and "toned" physic who never had to diet until I started lifting heavy. Huge mistake.

    Some women do build a lot of muscle. When women tend to have a higher percentage body fat than men, bulking DOES happen to quite a number of us. Women like me have to go on a deprivation diet when lifting heavy if we don't want to bulk up. It's no way to live. And it sucks to be told what is happening to our bodies is "impossible".
  • @clipperclop, as a woman, this happens to me as I tend to notice new muscle definition before I start losing the fat. Once my body fat begins dropping, the bulkiness goes away, and I'm defined and not bulky. I've seen men bulk up from spending their gym time lifting weights but they aren't doing anything to lose the fat. The husband of a friend of mine has been doing daily exercise including weights, plyometric, cardio, etc., and I noticed he went from being what I would consider a bulky muscular man to a lean muscular man.
  • SHAHAI16
    Will lifting too much weight keep me from losing weight? I heard you can't lose weight and gain muscle at the same time, and I don't lift excessively, but I do enjoy strength training. When I go to the gym, I usually do 30+ minutes of cardio and then 30+ minutes of strength training. I mostly do bodyweight/dumbell routines, but if too many people are by the free weights I do the machine. My boyfriend sometimes gives me a hard time that I can lift more than him, but I also weigh more than him so I think that's why. I can only bench about 150, but I can squat 250 somewhat easy (in the 8-12 reps range). Should I back off on the strength training and focus more on cardio? Also, when I do any kind of ab work, my tummy puffs up (but gets very hard). Is there a way to avoid this?
  • Since I've been working out I'm a 1/2 inch taller based on visits to the Dr....before working out I had a vitamin D deficiency problem which also has resided so there is so truth in lengthening your body through strengthening & stretching

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