It’s a common misconception that strength training will automatically make you into one of those big, bulky weight lifters you see in the gym. I’m sure they wish it were that easy, too!

As a trainer of 8 years, I’ve heard countless clients, specifically young women, tell me they’d rather do cardio or that they wanted to skip the strength training so they don’t bulk up. It’s understandable— strength training is indeed a great way to build muscle, but bulking up is not quite that simple. I’m here to bust that myth and hopefully make you and your teen more eager to get into strength training!

Here’s a few facts on why strength training will NOT make you bulk up:

  1. More muscle requires more food: Unless you decide to change your diet and drastically increase the amount of fuel you’re giving your muscles, you’re not going to bulk up. I’m not talking about that Friday night pizza party— I’m talking about consistent high calorie, protein rich meals. One of body builders’ biggest challenges is eating enough. It’s pretty difficult to accidentally build muscle.
  2. Muscle growth requires a steady increase of load over a long period of time: If your goal is to “bulk up,” your trainer will likely give you long rest periods in between intervals of heavy weight. They’ll slowly push you by increasing the amount of weight you are lifting over a period of months, and even then it may take a year to see noticeable results. Lifting moderate weight to build strength and tone your muscles is not going to result in big muscles, it’s going to tone them and make you stronger!
  3. Women, specifically, don’t have enough testosterone to get bulky: Even with years of consistency and hard work, many women find it difficult to build up the muscle. Testosterone makes it much easier to build muscle quickly.

The bottom line is, building muscle is not as easy as it may seem. There are many benefits to strength training that will help you reach your fitness goals, but I can assure you that doesn’t mean you’ll bulk up. There’s a reason body builders compete in fitness competitions— it’s extremely impressive and difficult to build their physiques. Unless you start a dedicated training regime with them— you’re not going to bulk up!

By Paytra Gessler, Certified Youth Fitness Trainer, Certified ISSA Fitness Professional

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