Why Lifting Heavy Makes You Skinny
I sort of hate myself for writing this title, but I figured it’d get more people to read it and then we can FINALLY debunk the theory that lifting heavy makes you “bulky”. I know this is a discussion that has gone on for some time now, but I want to cover it here, on a personal level.
As a female, and I know that most males feel the same, we want to have that “toned, shaped, fit” look, but not build a ton of muscle. Right? Well here’s the hard part. That’s impossible, because being toned and shaped means you have muscle. You must build muscle to have this look.
So all of those magazines out there that state you should do lots of reps at lighter weights to “tone your muscles” without making them bigger is a myth. If you do not use enough weight to challenge your muscles, they will not grow. If they don’t grow, they won’t look any better than they currently do, EVEN if you lose weight. This means if you continue to lift the same weight for months and months, your muscles will most likely look the same. If you are doing a heavy triple, you should not be using the same weight as when you do 8-10 reps on a set. CHALLENGE your muscles. They will thank you.
The claims that state certain exercises and forms of strength training make “long and lean” muscles vs. other ones result in “big and bulky” muscles are actually pretty bogus (drugs make muscles big and bulky, not weight lifting). Whether you do pilates, yoga, or weight-training, your muscles will come out the same. The difference is that weight-training grows your muscles much faster than most other methods (aka quicker results!).
So the bottom line is don’t fear lifting heavy, embrace it! Listen to your body, push yourself, and the results will come. Take it from an ex-big girl. Over the past 5 years of CrossFIt, the more weight I lift and the stronger I get, the smaller and leaner I become. I can’t quite seem to think this is a coincidence (and there’s research to back me up too!).
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