Does Lifting Weights Make You Bulky? A look at the muscle building process and why getting HYUGE is not going to happen.

One of the biggest misconceptions about weightlifting is that it will make new lifters bulky. Many people believe that if they so much as look at a weight, they’ll wake up looking hulkish and unable to fit through doorways. This is an impossibility. The process of building muscle is extremely slow and even those that work hard to build as much muscle as possible take years to get significant results.

Lifting weights applies stress to the body – more specifically to the bones, muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system. These tissues undergo stress and break down slightly. If the stress is manageable and progressive, the body undergoes a very efficient recovery process and adapts. The next time stress is presented, the muscles, bones, and joints can handle the stress with ease. This recovery takes anywhere from 12-72 hours for most people. A healthy diet with adequate protein, generally low stress, and a good night of sleep are vital to ensure that you recover from a workout.

Lifting weights is unique in that it develops flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance in unison. No other form of exercise has as much of a unified effect on your body. The ability to handle higher amounts of stress not only applies to lifting heavier weights, but daily tasks like picking up a heavy box, walking up a flight of stairs, or playing with the kids or grandkids will become much easier.

An added benefit to having more lean body mass is that the calorie requirement for the body to maintain it increases as you progress. The body burns a specific number of calories during the day – called Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR. To increase BMR, the number of calories the body requires must increase as well. The best way to do this is to build lean body mass.

When trying to lose weight, a caloric deficit is required. The formula is simple:

Calories in < Calories out = Weight Loss

Calories in > Calories out = Weight Gain

Calories in = calories out = Weight Maintenance

By increasing BMR and maintaining a healthy diet in which less calories are consumed than the body is burning, you will lose weight. The principle of Calories in – Calories out shows that it is difficult to gain much weight at all unless a large caloric surplus is maintained. It takes approximately a 3500 calories surplus to gain 1lb of bodyweight. This is an additional 500 calorie surplus per day every day of the week to gain 1lb. Inversely, a 500 calorie deficit per day would lead to about 1lbs of bodyweight loss per week.

The fear of getting bulky is therefore unwarranted and should be done away with. Lifting weights is not evil, and very few people regret getting stronger and more muscular. After all, the “toned” look everyone is searching for is built by gaining lean muscle tissue and losing fat. The benefits of weight training cannot be described fully in just one article, so stay tuned for many more to learn why Strength Training with a professional Starting Strength Coach at Cox Barbell Club is right for you.

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