Ive trained well over 1000 Adelaide women and the most common question I get asked weekly is “Will doing weights make me bulky? The answer is No! Weights and muscle doesn’t make you bulky, the fat over the top makes you bulky!

If you’ve every done any type strength training and felt that you have gotten bulky, you probably didn’t have your nutrition down packed to help maximise reducing your body fat.

Building nice lean muscle will help your body burn more fat and boost your metabolism. And will transform your body a lot faster. Which is exactly what we do at the Women’s Transformation Studio

Women lack the right balance of hormones, testosterone and growth hormone, to put on muscle mass the way men do. It can also be a combination of fluid retention, inflammation and plain old “feeling ‘swole”
Even if you lift enough to put on some weight, many women prefer the change in body composition. You may be a little heavier on the scales because of the lean muscle thats been added, but your body shape will be a lot better.


Simply put, women aren’t built the same way as men are and do not gain muscle mass as easily. Although the hormonal situation while lifting causes the same triggers in men and women, men utilise  10 times more anabolic hormones than females do, particularly testosterone, which is what actually encourages muscle growth. Even though females can train just as hard and put in the effort to eat, their actual response is much much smaller and slower than a guy’s.

Let’s talk more about those anabolic hormones. Two things are going on here. Testosterone is stimulated when you lift heavy. What does heavy mean? Anything you can do a max of 6-8 times. That’s the rep range that elicits the highest testosterone. When you “feel the burn,” on the other hand, doing higher volume or spending more time under tension, that’s when you’re stimulating growth hormone. Women are typically worried about lifting heavy because they think it will make them big but really, while the small amount of testosterone will help the muscles repair, it’s not enough to make the muscles much bigger.

Hormones are naturally-occurring chemicals that trigger organs and muscles to perform actions within the body. There are two basic types of hormones involved in normal metabolism: anabolic hormones generally “build up” tissues while catabolic hormones break down tissues for energy.

Since few women actually get bulky from lifting heavy, why do so many of us think we do?

The first thing to remember is that our self-perception is generally inaccurate. We are all very poor judges of ourselves. I’ve had women swear they were getting bigger, then when we re-tested their body composition and measurements everything had dramatically improved.  The same is true of the FEEL of body fat. Few people truly have the self-awareness and accurate perception to gauge body changes.

Culprit #1: Fluid retention

In the early stages of training, you get a lot of inflammation and the muscles draw in glycogen and water. (By way of simplified explanation I say that muscles are “fluffing up” although that is not really what happens; it’s just a handy visual.) The fluid retention and inflammatory process is what causes the stiffness and soreness, same as what happens if you sprain your ankle and it swells up. So, women will train for a couple of weeks and swear they have ‘bulked up’ — and perhaps they have, but it’s not muscle. And that means it’s not permanent.

Culprit #2: Eating more 

Many women consciously or unconsciously eat more to compensate for an increased training load, some are just hungrier; others deliberately eat more because they think they need it to support their training. More food = more mass… but not always muscle. Most people don’t realize how much body fat they’re actually carrying.

Lean Muscle gain… eventually

Now, I really do hate to put a figure on it, but we are probably looking at no more than around 0.5-1kg a month of lean mass gain on average, tops. Even 18 year old boys don’t add as much muscle in a short time as some women swear they do.

To sum it all up, I think what women are often responding to is a different feel rather than a reality. The body does feel different… it’s just that their interpretation of why that feels different (i.e. the assumption that it’s muscle, and not fluid retention or body fat, which is much more probable) is often incorrect. The only way to truly know what’s what is to get regular, accurate body fat testing and measurements. Otherwise it’s just speculation and rampantly imprecise self-perception.

Take advantage of our Free Consult today and we can sit down and put together the correct plan for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *