In regards to fitness, this question is one of the top most-commonly asked according to Google.
A few of our coaches here at CrossFit Banshee weigh-in to provide their thoughts and experiences.
It depends. Adding muscle mass is different for each person and has a lot to do with calorie intake and hormones. Some people will build muscle faster than others and look bulky. Some can do “everything” right and still not gain. So really lifting is only a part of the “bulky” equation.
At the end of the day, my body does whatever it wants and it has the power to override many of the choices I make. My body likes lifting heavy things and even when I’m willing it to get bulky in parts, it just isn’t in the hormones for me as a woman. I believe that in the past people have been afraid of women’s strength and creating fear around getting bulky is part of the dominant culture telling women that the smaller they can become, the more valuable they are. It is the brainwashing that tells women to “be small”, “be accommodating”, “don’t challenge”, “don’t be too masculine”, and “stay in your place”. Most women won’t get bulky at all; most women will be thrilled to find out how strong they can get.
First, what is your definition of bulky?
We’ve had a handful of women in the gym not lose any weight, but their body composition changed significantly. They have lost inches, but you can see more muscle definition.
For most, it takes specific attention to their nutrition habits that would take them from a toned composition to a bulky one.
Consistent heavy resistance training will aid in making your muscles bigger, no doubt. The degree of which they grow greatly depends on the individual, however.
Depending on their body type the changes and habits require varying degrees of effort and specific focus on nutrition.
Another big factor for women and muscle gain is their hormones around their cycle. At times during our cycle, we produce more estrogen which turns down our muscle growing capacity, and at times we are working with more progesterone which can facilitate muscle breakdown. Even as we get closer to menopause and our hormones shift to more testosterone production our protein synthesis to breakdown ratios shift too.
So while we may be worried about gaining too much muscle, we may, in reality, be battling just maintaining the muscle we currently have.