But I Don’t Want to Get Bulky!

In Fitness, gym, Weight Loss by Matt Smith

“Cardio doesn’t seem to be cutting it for me and my weight loss goals.”

Well, your body is designed to accommodate weight training and it will love you for it.

“But I don’t want to get too bulky!”

This is a common statement we hear, especially, but not exclusively, from females, usually after they have seen images online of women in bodybuilding competitions wearing a bikini and high heels, and yet looking more masculine than most gym-going dudes.  Many people seem to be almost scared to pick up a weight, in case they start packing on too much size!

You may even feel the same way!  But here’s the good news:

It doesn’t happen by accident.

Should I go to the gym if I don't want to get too bigGaining muscle bulk is hard, for both guys and girls, and yes, genetics play a role, but even so, without concerted effort into gaining muscle bulk you are far more likely to just become strong than bulky.  To become stronger, yes, your muscles need to grow, BUT, they don’t have to grow bigger necessarily.  muscles will also get stronger by growing denser and this is your body’s default way of growing in any case.

Muscle doesn’t Come Cheap!

Muscle is “expensive” in its nutrient requirements.  Your body is always going to fight you gaining more muscle than necessary because then it will have to feed all that muscle to maintain it.  Also, it makes your body heavier.  These are reasons why you lose muscle when you don’t use it – your body is trying to be more efficient.

Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3!

To get BIG you’re also going to need a full tank of testosterone, AND know how to use it!  For girls, this is basically impossible, outside of chemical assistance!  Even if you train like a bodybuilder, you will (naturally) begin to look like a bikini model!  From a male bodybuilder’s perspective; sucks to be a girl!  From the perspective of what most girls want to look like; the harder you train with weights, the better your curves will look, every time!

can i still do weights but not get too bigBody builders work very hard to prepare for competition.  They work harder than most people have the time for, and they spend a lot more on protein-rich foods and supplements than most people can afford on a luxury.  They also need to be extremely disciplined at what they DON’T put in their mouth!

Even in ‘Natural’ bodybuilding competitions, they must get unnaturally lean for you to see the muscle they have, reducing bodyfat percentages down to unhealthy levels leading up to competitions and dehydrating themselves down still further, in order to get their skin as thin as possible for just the right look on stage.  It’s definitely not something you can achieve without meaning to.

Training Muscle Fibres

To gain that kind of muscle bodybuilders are specifically training their bodies to recognize that the weights they’re lifting are too big for them and they need bigger and stronger muscles to cope with their regular workouts.  They are specifically trying to tear as many muscle fibres as possible each time they train, with both heavy weights and increased volume of repetitions. how do i workout without looking like a bodybuilder

Then they feed themselves an unnatural amount of protein and other nutrients to repair the damage.  It works like scar tissue – growing back larger than before.  Systematically tearing and repairing and tearing and repairing over and over, chasing the size they want.  Their goals usually increase as they do and nobody ever suddenly wakes up huge (even with chemical assistance it still takes months of concerted effort).

All you need to do is look at Arnold’s face as he works out, to realise that he didn’t get to look like that by mistake. 🙂

But Cardio is Better for Weight Loss, Right?

And here we come to the biggest myth of them all.  Weights to build size and cardio to lose it, right?  Well, No.  There now exist many studies showing the negligible benefit of straight cardio, compared to a combination of high intensity interval training.  Meaning, stop/start heavier work training, rather than long consistent fitness training.

Cardio will help you while you are training.  Or, more accurately, while you have your heart rate and breathing up.  But once you stop, so does your body stop burning away at those fat stores.

will gym make me too bigWork those muscles properly however, and you will continue to burn through your fat while your muscles repair, if you have significantly drained their sugar stores.  What most people don’t realise, is that you store sugar in your muscles, ready to fuel your muscles when called upon.  Once they are full, your body can’t handle excess sugar floating around, so it stores it in fat, to quarantine it for now, until it can melt it down and oxidize it from your blood stream later, breathing it out from your lungs.

3 Keys to Weight Loss
  • So, the harder you breath, the easier it is for your body to burn that fat.
  • The more you have drained your muscles of their sugar stores, the easier it is for your body to burn that fat.
  • The fitter you get, the easier that treadmill becomes and the less heavy you breath, making it harder to burn through that fat. So you have to keep working harder, or start incorporating heavier weighted exercises.

Sure, that’s in simplified layman’s terms, but that’s the basic gist of it.

What’s Attractive?

If you want my take on it, a body that is strong and healthy is usually an attractive one.  It is also what gives you a zeal and enjoyment for life!  Man or woman.  That pretty much translates to “eat clean and train for general strength and cardiovascular fitness.”  You can workout as hard as you like, naturally, and never have to worry that you will get too bulky.  So please, don’t worry that you’re going to accidentally get so big and strong that it will cause problems in your life.

But if you do, please come and tell me exactly how you did it, because everyone is looking for that silver bullet!

Have you met someone who doesn’t want to bulk up?

Share this Post

About the Author

Matt Smith


Matt completed his Management qualifications at the Aust Institute of Fitness in 2014, when he left his trade and opened BodySmith Fitness with wife, Rachel Smith. Matt was awarded his Black Belt and Diploma from the Japan Karate Association and completed his Coaching Accreditation from the Aust Sports Commission in 2012 and now teaches Shotokan Karate from the BodySmith Dojo. Matt has also spent the last 25 years in and out of the gym and has developed a strong understanding of muscle growth, which is what he enjoys helping people with in the BodySmith Gym.