Weightlifting- Will I get to “bulky”?

As CrossFit Coaches one of the biggest issues we have is getting people to give Olympic weightlifting a fair chance. The age old comment we hear often is “Lifting heavy weights will get me bulky and I want to be lean”.

I understand why some people do not want to get too muscular but rather lean, and I will tell you why weightlifting will help you achieve just that.

It’s a very common misconception that lifting weights will make you big and bulky. Most people forget that the people who actually get super muscular and big have the genetics to achieve this but also spend around 3-5 hours in their local gym working out about 6 days a week. In other words, getting big and muscular takes years for your average Joe who usually gets to work out only 1 hour per day. This is great news to all the people who are looking to not get too bulky, because you have plenty of time to stop your lifting if you begin to see your muscles getting a tad too big.

The simplified science behind lifting goes as follows:
Lifting weights will always increase your muscle mass to some degree, seeing as you are using your body in a way it is not used to. This mostly happens in the beginning because it is a new form of “stress” on the body. The way we choose to lift weights matters and we can roughly break it up into 3 categories:

1) 1-8 Repetitions is considered power and strength increasing. You will not build big and bulky muscles, but you will be powerful and able to move a lot of weight.

2) 8-20 Repetitions is considered bodybuilding. If we work within this rep scheme and rest around 30-60 seconds between our sets we can expect a lot of muscle growth and may get bigger and more bulky.

3) 20+ repetitions will make us enter a more “cardio” based workout. The weights are lighter and the sets take longer.

With this in mind I will talk a little about how a weightlifting session is normally structured. Weightlifting is the sport of lifting very heavy weights ONCE. To get good at this we will need to move around relatively heavy weights often. Normally we will spend a lot of time squatting, deadlifting and pressing, since these three movements are the very foundation of Olympic weightlifting. These three movements are all compound exercises and they will work out your entire body when performed right.
If we take a look at the above simplified science, lifting heavy weights a few times is not considered bodybuilding and your muscles will not grow out of control. Instead you will build an extremely strong body capable of carrying out difficult/straining functional tasks in your everyday life.

So ladies and gentlemen, if your goal is to get as strong as possible, but not necessarily huge as a bodybuilder, then weightlifting is JUST your thing. It takes time to get good at, but the accomplishing feeling of putting 50, 80, 100 or 140kg over your head is rarely matched anywhere else in our everyday life. Add the other benefits such as increasing your bone health to avoid diseases like Osteoporosis and it’s a real win-win!

The last thing I want to add is the following. A lot of women dream about bigger and firmer thighs and butt, well deadlift and squat movements are THE way to get just that. Furthermore I have never heard a complaint about a man’s butt being too big and rock hard either! – Just saying.

People, time to get lifting!

Coach Mikkel