Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

Cal Bauer
November 29, 2023
Will Lifting Weights Make Me Bulky?

One of my absolute favorite things about starting this gym is the fact that I’ve been able to have a LOT of conversations through our No Sweat Intros.

One of the most common topics that come up during those conversations is folks saying “I don’t want to get bulky,” to which I always tilt my head a little bit.

There are a lot of myths and misinformation that hover around fitness as a result of social media, but one of the biggest stumbles is the idea that people, particularly women, shouldn’t lift weights because they’ll look like She Hulk, without the law experience.So - let’s dive into that a little bit. Will lifting weights make you bulky? Well, as always, it depends.

The Myth of Bulkiness

First off, gaining muscle mass is much more complex than lifting some iron a couple days a week. If it were that easy, the average American would have much different dimensions. It is a complex formula taking into account your training, diet, and hormones. Rather than saying that you won’t get bulky, let’s walk through what it would look like if you actually were trying to get bulky. In short: It’s hard.


Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is a response to the stress we put on our bodies. By lifting weights, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibers. Your body goes through a recovery process and heals stronger than before, and also creates more muscle fibers in parallel with the old ones. This can help to increase the diameter of the muscle itself, and in turn, make it thicker. Bodybuilding principles tell us hypertrophy is maximized somewhere around the 8-12 rep range, but can be as wide as 4-30 reps, and each muscle group should complete anywhere from 10-25 working sets within a given week.


Unless you’re getting in optimal numbers for protein and consuming enough carbs and fats to fuel your training, you won’t be able to a) provide your body the energy to complete the training, and b) provide the resources for your body to repair itself. This requires a good amount of protein to build, and a good amount of protein carbs to manage energy & hormone levels.


Here’s where biology kicks in. Testosterone is one of the main hormones responsible for muscle growth. Generally, women have lower testosterone levels than men, which means their muscle growth rate is slower and less pronounced. Below is a picture of the woman crowned fittest on earth last year who utilizes most of the same training principles we utilize on a daily basis.

I bring her up as an example simply because she is someone that has optimized protocols for training, diet, and recovery, and, at least personally, I wouldn’t consider her “bulky.”

All in all

If you want to get yoked out and shredded, great! Let’s do it. It’s a fun journey and requires an awareness and connection to your body that few people can get.

If you want to just feel healthy, strong, and comfortable in your own skin, great! That’s what our protocols are designed to do.

But don’t let the bulk boogeyman stand in your way - you won’t wake up a walking bicep. It’s a craft, not a curse.

Whether or not you want anchor arms or just to feel good, go ahead and have that conversation with me in a No Sweat Intro. Would love to chat.

- Cal

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