Or maybe a better question is: What’s the best way a woman should work out without bulking up?
I am a Newbie who is in the process of implementing a primal style diet to lose major weight and would like to start working out. My only fear is that I will look too masculine if I do too much strength work (or the wrong kind of strength work). I see some cross fit female bodies and while every “body” is beautiful, I personally prefer myself with a less muscular body. Any suggestions?
Genetics play a huge part of this as well - Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph. If you can figure out what type you are, that will help in addition to diet.
I'm an Ecto with a pinch of Meso and had to cut back on the bulk of my HIIT, I was a cyclist, to pack the muscle/weight on - about 6-8 months and just about 15lbs. There is no way in hell that I'll be able to bulk up huge - genetically it's not going to happen - so unless I start using chemicals to enhance.. then I'm staying lean, mean and fast as hell with my 4-abs. Smiling all the while back squatting more than my body weight.
Work with your coaches, you're paying them - tell them what you're looking to do, and search the intertubes, in addition to the loads of info that is here on PH, just remembering, as you posted "every body is different" so what works for some won't for you :)
THIS is a fantastic post full of good things that I think will help you out: Paleo & Ladies Bodies. We got into body typs and such..
Note: 5'7-1/2 I grew an inch this year! and 125lbs.
So, I'm a personal trainer and I want to go ahead and chime in with the others that lifting heavy won't bulk you up. But, I think you also want an answer to "how do I... without". My answer is: lift heavy. Functional, compound movements -- squats, deads, press. Start with a beginner progression -I like a 5x5 like Mark Rippotoe's Starting strength or add in some assistance work for hypertrophy. Others will chime in with whatever they do. Take it easy, be sure to recover, hydrate, dial in diet. When you're increasing the resistance training, drop the long cardio, at least at the start - doing too much will make it more likely that you feel tired, hungry, not fully recovered - too high cortisol/stress hormones - overeating - holding onto fat.
Personally, I feel stronger, I like my new, more muscular look. I'm about 5 pounds heavier, but 5% less body fat and like Je Suis, about 1/2 in. taller...(can't explain this). I sleep better and I'm more in tune with my body cues. Worse case scenario, you can give this a try and if you just hate your 6-pack, you can always go back to whatever you were doing before ;-)
I honestly wouldn't worry about it at all. You would have to seriously try to put on enough muscle to make you look masculine, i.e. eat to grow and hit the gym too many times a week.
I have a few girl friends who lift heavy weights (relative) 2-3 times a week and have been doing so for a few months now. They too feared that they would get bulky but it hasn't been the case with any of them. Just gradual weight loss with a subtle hint of muscle tone.
The idea that working out will make you bulky is a myth that is especially prevalent among the females I know.
Note that people who want to bulk up often have a very difficult time achieving their goals. It takes years of dedicated lifting, supplements, and a crazy high protein diet. So when somebody expresses concern over looking bulky, it sounds a little crazy, almost arrogant, to experienced lifters. A good answer is: don't worry, that'll be the least of your concerns, especially since leaning out is easier than bulking up (muscle tissue is biologically expensive, and your body doesn't just pack it on without a fight).
A common mistake among females is to attempt to avoid bulking up by doing high-rep 'toning' workouts rather than lifting heavier weights at lower reps. This is the opposite of what you should do. Low-weight high-rep workouts produce the big water-filled muscles that you notice on the beach. Whereas high-weight low-rep workouts geared toward strength produce smaller, denser, and more functional results.
Regarding crossfit, some xfit girls look thick and masculine, while others maintain their feminine figures with ease. This is clear from a quick scan of xfit youtube videos. The difference is only partly due to genes. Those thick, muscular girls have been working on their olympic lifts for years. They aren't just doing the WOD three times a week.
If your squat gets insane, here is a preview of what you will look like... in like 5 years :)
after over 10 years of HEAVY lifting - powerlifting - my thighsection starts to look something like that pic. i admit i have more muscle thatn the average girl but way less than a figurecompetitor for example. and it has been 10 years of heavy work 5-6 times a week sometimes 2 x a day. no worries. lift heavy, eat paleo and look in the mirror. you wont wake up one morning bulky. you will see the changes happen and you can tweek and change while you go.
I played roller derby for 5 years. At 5"2 and size zero, I actually tried very hard to bulk up. Playing roller derby means skating hard and fast (I was a jammer), knocking others and getting knocked around a lot; I played for the love of the sport and athleticism. I was eating large quantities of protein and taking all sorts of supplements, including creatine. I lifted heavy weights 4x a week. Did I bulk up? Not really. I had a great shape and strong muscles, but they were certainly not over defined. Every body us different, but I think it's very unlikely you will become masculine looking!
Honestly I think the best way is to just try it without any particular restrictions/reservations, and see how it affects your body. It's not like it will have a irreversible effect on your body. Worse case is that you will have to change the way you work out. Most likely I don't think that will be a problem. If a woman is muscular and works out, it was probably because they are more inclined to have that body type, and were muscular to begin with.
I don't really agree with crossfit much but this is a great Article that discusses what i think you are talking about.
I always found it pretty impossible to get a body-builder look. I grew up working in barns, carrying water/hay/straw, mucking stalls, rubbing horses, etc. and if I was standing still you couldn't have told any difference between me and sedentary city girls.
Even when I became an exercise junkie (typical week was 250 miles on my bike, 3 aerobics classes, 2 body sculpting classes and line-dancing 4 nights per week) and managed to achieve low body fat for a year or two you couldn't tell how fit I was unless you touched me. A few people were surprised by how firm/fibrous my muscles felt but I found that funny.
I think "fast twitch" females might show a little more muscle but I've never seen a woman with more than lovely toned limbs unless she was abusing her body with dehydration, etc.
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