Without a doubt, one of the most frequently asked questions we get in the gym is: will lifting weights make me bulky?

Short answer, HELL NO!

You see it all over social media, men, and women lifting weights who have more muscle definition in their shoulders than you ever knew existed and they are big! But let me tell you… they’ve worked for a long time to look that way, training specific muscle groups and eating strictly for years – it certainly didn’t happen just because they decided to pick up some weights!

One rule of thumb to remember when it comes toning your body is: exercise controls your shape, eating controls your size.

Let’s break that down a bit…


Exercise controls your shape.


When it comes to toning the shape of your body, weights are going to be your new best friend. TRUST US!
Weight training allows us to target a specific muscle group and essentially change the size of that muscle (and as a result: your figure too!) For example many ladies are looking for a more “perkier” or “lifted” butt, incorporating exercises such as deadlifts and squats in our weights classes┬áhas helped so many of our members achieve goals that constant cardio just wasn’t getting them.

However, in saying that – if you are after that bulky look and you really want to increase your muscle mass a lot, weight training will get you there too. It’s all about how frequently you are training those specific muscles. If you train your shoulders specifically three times per week for six months (and are fueling those muscles with a lot, and I mean A LOT of food!) then of course you can expect your shoulders to increase in size fairly dramatically.

For many of our members getting bulky isn’t their goal, but getting lean and toning up is. By incorporating two weights classes into their routine per week as per our classes schedule at 141 Fitness our members are learning just how beneficial weight training can be in toning your muscles and changing your shape in those stubborn areas.

Also, did we mention weight training increases lean body mass?! That’s right, once you finish a weights session you can expect to be burning fat/calories for hours after you’ve left the gym – WINNING!
This equals more calories burned throughout the day promoting a leaner and more toned figure (**If you are eating right**) which brings me to my next point…

Barbell squats

Eating controls your size.


Now onto the fun stuff, fooooooood.
We probably aren’t telling you anything you didn’t already know, but sometimes we all need a little reminder. Eating does absolutely control the size of your body and majority of that “bulkiness” you might be worried about starts in the kitchen.

Plain and simple – if you are eating at a calorie deficit you will lose weight. If you are eating at a calorie surplus you will gain weight. If you are eating the exact same amount that you are burning off each day, then you will maintain your weight.

Sooo what exactly is a calorie deficit?
Basically, a calorie deficit is when you are burning more calories than what you are consuming each day. It makes sense if you think about it, if you take more out than what you put in – you’re at a loss right?

Eating at a calorie deficit teamed up with weight training is a perfect combination for chip away at your body fat to see your lean muscle and a toned figure without any worries of “bulking up.” If you’d like to learn more about your specific calorie needs – chat to us about our Macros program, it’s a good place to start!

But what if I want to bulk up?
If building that strong, bulky figure is your goal – that’s awesome – but you are going to need to eat A LOT to create a surplus. Generally, those looking to bulk up their figure are under the guidance of a coach for a specific event; be it body building, power lifting or an
on-stage competition and all of their food is specifically for the purpose of gaining weight for that thicker, fuller look.
This is likely to involve a calculated calorie surplus to ensure they remain big and bulky and don’t lean off or tone down.


The verdict


NO, weight training will not make you bulky – unless you want it to.
Fat loss comes hand in hand with weight training, but as mentioned above if you are eating more than what you are burning, you can expect to gain weight over time.
Weight training won’t make you “bulky” unless you are storing a substantial amount of calories over an extended period of time. In other words – IT’S HARD WORK TO GET BULKY!

Move over cardio, weights are here to stay and we are loving the results!

Sumo Squats

Photography: Vision House Photography