Will Lifting Heavy Weights Make You Look Bulky? The Truth Revealed!

“If I use the heavy weights, won’t my arms get bigger?”

“If I crank up the resistance on the bike or elliptical, won’t my legs bulk up?”

These are common concerns around both men and women when it comes to their resistance training choices. It’s hard enough to find jeans that fit an athletic leg, so risking our muscles growing even more can sometimes be a bit scary!

The accepted belief is that lifting heavier weights equals bigger muscles and  using lighter weights is the best way to slim down and maintain tone. But is this really true?  If you lift heavy weights will you be well on your way to looking like the hulk? New research reveals to us that using heaver weights is actually more beneficial if your goal is to burn body fat. 

Why heavy weights are ideal

If you want to be stronger and toned but still look slim, the suggestion is to challenge yourself with heavier weights and fewer repetitions. A 2002 study that looked at women doing both low- and high-intensity resistance exercises found that those who lifted heavier weights with fewer repetitions burned more calories and had a bigger metabolic boost than the women who lifted lighter weights with increased repetitions. 

The conditions that will bulk you up

Under certain conditions weight lifting can most certainly bulk you up, but even bodybuilders will tell you that it’s a lot harder to gain mass by just simply using heavy weights.  There’s a reason why body builders are so into high calorie and protein diets. If you want to get bigger you not only have to supersize your weights, but you have to supersize your meals!

Just like an excess of calories can make you gain weight in the form of fat, you can also use an excess of calories to help you gain more weight in muscle. 

Recipe for bulking:
  • An excess of calories
  • Heavy resistance training
  • Low repetitions
  • Lots a sets of the same exercise (90 plus minutes in the gym)

The difference between men and women:

There is a difference between how much muscle a woman can build versus how much muscle a man can build. Differences in body size, body composition and hormone levels affect your body’s ability to put on muscle. Women don’t have enough testosterone to get big muslces with simply just lifting heavy weights. Men have approximately 40 percent more muscle mass than women, which makes it a lot easier to put on mass.

The ideal weights to tone and lean out

Use heavy enough weights that force your body to work at its max, allowing you to burn the most calories. Feel your muscle completely fatiguing by the 2nd to last repetition of an exercise to obtain the best results. If you are able to complete multiple sets with the same weights and continue getting the same number of reps, this means it is time to move your weights up to accomodate your strength level.

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