Will weights training make me bulky and immobile?

The biggest misconception is that lifting weights makes you bulky, however, here’s some simple science to explain why it can and how you can prevent it if you’re worried. 

Short answer as always, “it depends”

The fact is, weights are obviously there to increase muscular hypertrophy (size) and or strength (neural drive), depending on how you approach them and the programming that you’re following.

In saying that, there aren’t too many people that accidentally put on kilos of lean muscle mass. 

If they did, help me find them and they can take my money. 

Lifting heavier weights doesn’t automatically lead to an increased size of muscle. It actually takes a very specific set of parameters to make that happen, which include: 

1.Your genetic potential and ceiling parameters (some people just aren’t built for huge muscles) (women fall into this category due to the hormonal make-up)

2. Your training age and previous environmental context: the newer you are to training, the more potential you have.

3. our effort in relation to your capacity (relevant intensity) you need to be pushing yourself and progressively overloading the stimulus in order to adapt.

4. Your total training volume and intensity
Training volume is determined by reps x sets x load x time under tension and is directly correlated with a process called “muscle protein synthesis” in which determines whether your muscles will need to grow and adapt to the increased stimulus, or remain the same and perhaps just learn how to increase neural drive and ability to activate the motor units (fibres)  that are already there.

We like to use the analogy of the light globe.
You can either increase the size of your light globe, or you can get a light globe with super-high wattage. 

Increasing your light globe size may increase the potential for increased strength (brightness), but unless you have the wattage (neural drive) there may be no difference. 

With training, you can increase your muscular size by sitting in what is known as the “hypertrophy” grounds, in which you’re aiming to hit high repetitions at moderate volume. 

Whereas, to increase strength without affecting your muscle mass, you would aim to lift heavier weights for less reps so that you’re focusing on neural drive and CNS adaptations. 

Of course, by lifting no weight or little weight, you are ensuring that there is no growth of muscle, however, there are so many disadvantages to this approach when the reality is, you don’t have to fear muscle bulk.

5.Your nutrition and recovery play a huge role. Your nutrition will determine whether or not you’re in a calorie surplus or deficit and whether you have the building blocks for increased muscle mass or not. 

The reason most people “feel” or look bulky is often because they are holding too much body fat or (non functional mass). 

The muscles themselves aren’t actually huge, it’s just that they are covered by a high % of body fat.

Muscles take a very long time to build and are only born when bred in the perfect concoction of the above 5 points, so if you accidentally nail the perfect petri-dish and put on 5kg of muscle mass whilst keeping your body fat low, give me a call. 

If you’re putting on size/bulk but you’re not between 8-14% body fat (M) and 16-22% (W), then we suggest learning how to eat high-quality foods in the right quantity for your goals so that you’re not in a surplus of nutrients. 

We aren’t suggesting that you live in a calorie deficit for fear of getting bigger, as this will lead to its own problems of being undernourished. 

The key message here is to know and understand

  • what your program looks like
  • What your nutrition looks like 

And continue monitoring/adjusting them based on objective data rather than feeling and guessing, because we are so susceptible to our own bias and body dysmorphia. 

If you want to track whether you’re getting bulky, you’ll need to track 2 things

1. Circumference of your muscle size (pick a muscle)
Body fat % 

If your circumference is going up and so is your body fat %, then guess what. It’s probably the fat that’s making you bulky. 

If your circumference is going up and your body fat % is going down, then you’re putting on lean muscle mass… and you’ll probably find that it looks good, feels good and increases your performance. 

Thank me later and feel free to send me any questions to info@bodybybrando.com

Remember: Track the circumference of your muscle size and body fat %

Picture of Brandon Hasick

Brandon Hasick

Director and Head Coach
Body By Brando


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