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PHILTRILL SparkPoints: (0)
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7/19/12 11:33 P

We all need to do strength training, however watch the weights you work out with if you don't want those bulky arms.

ONLINEASLLOU SparkPoints: (73,365)
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7/19/12 10:31 P

Bottom line: Use common sense. Do some strength training to strengthen your arms. If they start getting too muscular for your taste, scale back on the weight training.

Big muscles don't suddenly appear over night. It takes time. So you will have time to stop before they get more muscular than you like. You might also want to try some pilates, yoga, or dance exercises. Those types of exercises tend to focus on the creation of a long lean look as opposed to shorter, bulkier look. I'm not sure how much actual difference results from the different types of exercises, but it's worth a try.

Life is full of problems you can't control. Fortunately, this one is easy for you to avoid by just using some common sense. Get fit and strong, but if you notice yourself getting too bulky, scale back before it gets too bad.

Good luck!

SOCAL_LEE SparkPoints: (43,325)
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Posts: 246
7/19/12 1:19 P

Thank you, Dragonchilde! I agree completely. I lift weights regularly (working my way through all the New Rules of Lifting books, which I highly recommend to men and women alike) because it feels good to be able to deadlift over 100 lbs, even though I can't dl my own body weight yet, and to do unassisted chinups, even if so far I max out at 4. More importantly, though, I enjoy being strong enough to carry heavy bags of groceries, pick up my kids, move the furniture around (and shop at IKEA! haha), and do yard work. I very much enjoy knowing that I'm building up bone density to prevent osteoporosis later in life. I could probably hold my own in a fight, too, or at least do enough damage to an attacker to be able to escape. And how I look is my business, not anyone else's, just like how other people look is their business, not mine.

As a side note: lifting weights can't lengthen your muscles; neither can Pilates or yoga. Your muscles will get bigger but the muscle fibers themselves cannot get longer. In other words, weightlifting, Pilates, and yoga don't make you taller and won't make your arms longer.

CATH63 Posts: 344
7/19/12 1:11 P

I did read the article. I am all for being a strong woman both physically and mentally. And I, too, the Kelly Ripa's arms are pretty, strong, and feminine. However, genetics plays a huge role and some women can and do get bulky. My legs are one example. I have never done anything do increase the strength or muscle on my legs but they have virtually NO fat and are not terribly unattractive, but they are short and squatty similar to gymist legs as opposed to ballet legs. I wish for the ballet look but that's just not going to happen.

My arms and upper body, on the other hand, are not strong and I plan to work on that. I want to be able to do real push-ups and I am going to start lifting heavy. I am hoping that my arms will follow the lead of my legs and I will lose the excess fat and my muscles will show through. My biceps already do just a little.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that my genetics won't predispose my to squatty, dense muscles in my arms and shoulders but instead I end up with lean arms with longer muscles and attractive cuts so that they will look nice in sleeveless tops and dresses.

BTW - yes, I do want to be strong AND my definition of feminine. I don't think those are incompatible.

7/19/12 11:12 A

Thanks for that link Dragonchilde! I knew most of what was in the article but it was good to have a refresher!

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
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7/19/12 9:52 A

I think you are mistaking low body fat percentage with big, bulky arms. There's lots of meaningless terms floating around this thread. My idea of "bulky" and "toned" are clearly not the same as yours. "Toned" doesn't even mean anything, in the fitness world! It's a marketing term that describes a healthier body with lower body fat than some... and you can't force it by doing exercises a certain way. Men and women don't work out differently.

I'm going to post this article again, although it doesn't appear anyone ever actually reads it:

Toning vs. Bulking Up: The Real Facts

Kelly Ripa is not at all what I'd call big or bulky! When I think bulky, this is what comes to mind to me:

Not this:

I don't understand the idea that it isn't feminine to be strong. Do I repulse you, because I'm developing muscle tone in my arms? Am I bulky?

Frankly, I don't have some weird ideal about what's perfect. I'm not trying to attain someone else's idea of beautiful. I don't *care* what people think on Facebook about women's arms. I'm not doing this for them.

What matters to me is that I'm healthy, strong, and feel good about myself. THe rest of those peope can stuff it.

Besides, those yahoos on Facebook are the ones who are always forwarding me those "share this to give a dollar to this dying cancer kid" memes... their judgment is suspect. ;)

If you don't want muscle definition, then don't do strength training. Go for the skinny fat look. Muscle definition is primarily about your body fat percentage, anyway. Lifting heavy will NOT bulk you up... it's nearly impossible to add muscle mass at a calorie deficit, anyway. In order to get bigger, your muscles need a calorie SURPLUS, including lots of protein. You can improve the quality, but not the quantity.

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 7/19/2012 (10:00)
AUBREYGR Posts: 466
7/19/12 9:21 A

People are still claiming having any muscle development on women's arms is unfeminine. This reminds me a lot of the arguments that women shouldn't wear pants because they aren't feminine. Women have done a lot of stupid and unhealthy things over the years in the interest of attraction. The medical evidence overwhelmingly supports strength training to keep us from becoming frail and unhealthy. To argue against that because of a small possibility of having (gasp!) muscles where muscles belong is outdated at best. I am glad that more people are starting to see healthy women as something other than the heroin-emaciated look, and hope it continues. Muscles add curviness when you have sufficient body fat, and that is a good thing imo.

WOLFSPIRITMOM SparkPoints: (89,967)
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7/19/12 9:11 A

It is so hard to get muscular, bulky arms. I weight train with heavy weights and still my arms are toned but not bulky.

JENMC14 Posts: 2,786
7/19/12 5:04 A

Maybe our definitions of bulky are different, because it is difficult to bulk up. "Slender, "toned" arms" are just arms with very little fat and no muscle definition, imho. There's a lot in between that and bulky arms.

Edited by: JENMC14 at: 7/19/2012 (05:05)
CHIHAYA SparkPoints: (0)
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Posts: 434
7/19/12 2:41 A

I fear muscles too. I really don't want to increase it emoticon

But my No.1 concern is loose skin, then bulky body. So, I keep ST hoping it would prevent loose skin. (And of course, to build strength, especially for running).

I know, I know. It's genetic and I can't really do anything for it. But but anyway!

CATH63 Posts: 344
7/19/12 12:04 A

I totally agree with the OP. I hate the look of big, muscular arms and shoulders on women and it is getting more and more commonplace...not just women whose careers depend on it. If a woman getting really big arms and shoulders is mythical and rare then I know lots of rare women.

A friend who lifts often posted this question on facebook just a few days ago (I'm paraphrasing)...

What do you find more attactive in a women? One with muscular arms or one with slender, toned arms?
The answers were overwhelmingly in favor of slender, toned arms and the answers were from both men and women. I think only maybe 2 people out of over 40 responses like the more muscular look.

Please don't try to mislead people by telling women that it is very difficult for them to get bulky. I know a good many regular women who got bulky arms and shoulders through heavy lifting. I'm guessing they are genetically predisposed to it but it does happen and without lifting for hours a day or taking male hormones or supplements.

DANAKAY3 Posts: 51
7/18/12 9:38 P

Training your core is critical - if you really work at your abs, lower back, etc., it will provide key protection when lifting. I feel so much better when I'm strength training, coupled with cardio. Good luck, and consider starting with a trainer - some gyms have really good starter programs.

CICELY360 Posts: 4,140
11/20/11 11:46 P

For the most part, women don't get bulky arms because we don't have a lot of testosterone. A small amount of definition, though, is sexy and makes you look good in sleeveless shirts because you won't have flabby triceps. Try doing exercises that utilize your own body weight or resistance bands.

LAETU5 Posts: 1,405
11/20/11 11:02 P

Muscle definition on a woman isn't bad....most women that complain about bulk seem to not like how arms look when they have any strength to them. Strong arms on a fit woman don't look bad...I just googled image of Serena Williams and while she does have larger arms they are well proportioned to her body. I'd much rather have arms like hers than flabby arms. I think many women are scared of muscle showing because we are trained to be meek and muscle doesn't convey that image. It's not like you are going to get a manly muscle builder body from a practical level of strength training...and if you do then you may need to have your hormone levels checked. Just do what you need to do for your job and if you actually end up bulking up really big like a man then you can talk to your doctor about why that is happening.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,461
11/20/11 7:52 P

I think your fears are misplaced, for a number of reasons.

Testosterone is the major hormone driving increases in muscle mass, and most women (and many men) just don't have enough of it to gain large quantities of muscle. Serena Williams is a champion athlete (and one who makes strength and power a feature of her game) - to say she is genetically gifted is an understatement. Most women will NOT achieve Williams arm muscles, no matter how hard they work out.

It's pretty difficult (even for those with higher levels of testosterone) to gain muscle mass while running a calorie deficit to lose weight, as the body tends to burn protein for energy, rather than creating new muscle tissue.

Most of the gains from strength training actually come from improved muscle quality, rather than increased muscle size. By strength training regularly, you should be able to meet the physical demands of being a CNA, without having Schwarzenegger arms.

Also, fat is considerably bulkier than muscle (check out
for a great photo of this). So if you lose fat, you can be stronger and still have smaller arms overall.


BLONDIEGRRL Posts: 1,174
11/20/11 4:46 P

What are they doing to achieve this? They work out 5 hours a day.

I would LOVE to have muscles like that, but I doubt I will ever have enough time to train like that. I don't think you have to worry about "bulking up." It is very difficult for the average woman to do so, even when strength training regularly.

WOLFSPIRITMOM SparkPoints: (89,967)
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11/20/11 2:36 P

I am 5 ft 4 in, have lifted heavy all my life and am not bulked up at all. Bulking is a myth for most women.

SLYSAM SparkPoints: (43,184)
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11/20/11 2:27 P

Madona and Kelly Rippa are both teeny, tiny women. And both are petite in height like 5'-5' 3". Seriously, a friend saw Madona working out in London and was struck by how petite and slim she looked. Their muscles are defined because they are both very, very lean. Most women would have a very hard time being that lean and both of them work at it. They train hard and they probably eat very lean. Their muscles are probably not even that big. If you want to avoid looking like them, the answer is simple, don't get that lean. How lean are they? I am not sure their exact body fat percentage, but it is most likely in the teens as that is when most women start to show six pack abs. And one might need to be even leaner to get to the point where every vein shows definition. I admire their fitness and discipline, but I personally don't aspire to be that lean either.

About Serena... She trains hard, is not fat but not nearly as lean as the other two you mention, and I think she most likely has special genetics. It is pretty hard for a woman to build that kind of power and strength but she is a full time professional athlete and has been since her youth. Generally elite athletes are a bit genetically blessed anyway, so I am not sure how realistic it is for most women to compare themselves to someone like her. To look like her you need a similar build to her, similar genes, to train hard, to start training hard at a very young age. I would imagine definition like Madonna and Kelly is more realistic for most women compared to powerful muscles like Serena's--but neither are easy to attain.

I have friends who are CNA's and nurses and none of them look "bulky muscular". Strength does help prevent injury with that type of job. But as mentioned, it is usually difficult for women to build muscle--women who do intentionally usually have to work hard at it. Also, it is even more difficult to build muscle while weight loss dieting. You can build strength without size, and that is most often what happens when women strength train while dieting. I lose the most inches when training hard (hard for me). When someone attains a certain level of leanness it might be different, but if you have enough fat that you are dieting for fat loss, I am not sure how often that is an issue.

BTLSMUM SparkPoints: (40,629)
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11/20/11 10:37 A

The women you referenced in your post work out intensely and very, very often.

It is pretty unlikely that doing some light strength training 3 days a week is going to bulk you up. If you are lucky, you may get some subtle muscle definition.

REDSHOES2011 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (66,181)
Posts: 7,159
11/20/11 4:23 A

Women how have huge arms train super hard- they don't just lift 10lbs and bang the muscles are there- they may also have genetics for this ability..
I think your worrying a little premature- it may not happen, but if you definitely don't like muscles don't work in CNA.. I work as a freelance resthome helper and it flips me off asking for assistance and the other helper hurts herself as is out of shape..
When your lifting a person sometimes double your own size with help from other workers the only thing protecting "you" from back, shoulder and muscle injuries is how strong "you" keep "yourself"..
Women like madonna train darn hard- she makes no bones about her love for the weight room- she is also excellant at yoga- her body is her tool of the trade.. People are buying her music because of the total package deal.. Are young people going to keep buying her music if she starts looking like a fabby old lady no, people are interested why she keeps young..

Serious weight training keeps us women from actually aging..
thats a 40+ year old women being called a girl by teenagers whom don't connect the dots with the words on her top.. They actually don't realise how old she really is.. She isn't huge but at 40 plus I would rather have a body like hers than worrying about getting too much muscles.. She is defying age and has trained "20" odd years with help of a body builder friend... Not everyone gets bulky like me, many fitness competitors women stay petite- but it is a struggle for them to get the right shape without bulking up as can't go too heavy- some get told to go into another class because they are too hard cut to stay fitness model material..
I want strength- this is the tool of my trade and my protection to get me to pension age..

Strong arms have saved me more than once from people falling and hurting me! Get off first base and get started first then re-evaluate if you don't like the results.. It may never happen..

I was big women before starting bodybuilding my body has compensated for carrying the extra load..
A muscle can do three things.
1. don't work it -stay the same and degenerate
2. work it the same - it stays the same
3. work it hard and it will grow and get definition

I like the third because it got me off a 1200 mgs ibumetin useage daily.. I also don't like being ass heavy efter having kids.. The upper body deal has evened out my thunder thighs..

Also I encounter a few drunks with wandering hands needing assistance- looking sour at them also intimidates them to keep their hands to themselfs..

A good talk with a trainer may clear up your worries.. I have been at it 9 years..

Edited by: REDSHOES2011 at: 11/20/2011 (04:46)
11/20/11 3:57 A

A small percentage of women do have the capability to get a bit muscular. Do you have any reason to believe you will? Have you gotten muscular before? Do you have the body type of Serena Williams? If not, just go and lift heavy and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you stop lifting and the muscles will disappear. Best case scenario, you'll get in great shape and stay injury-free on the job.
Which lifting program were you thinking of trying?

JENNILYNN7800 Posts: 649
11/20/11 1:33 A

I'm taking a CNA class and plan to get a job as a CNA. Lifting people is hard so I want to begin weight training. The problems is I don't want to get bulky anywhere, but I especially don't want bulky arms. I know they say this won't happen to women, but Madonna, Kelly Ripa, and Serena Williams all have overly large arms. There are quite a few fitness models with large arms as well. I've seen a few pictures of Jessica Simpson's calves that made me cringe too. Does anyone know what they're doing to look like this so I can not do this. Thanks.

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