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Being afraid of Bulk – It’s all grey


Then why are so many freaking women so afraid of lifting weights?

Because we aren’t logical when it comes to how we look?

Possibly. I know Ryan would probably say that most of the time my emotions more than my brain dictate how I feel I look.

But so then what keeps convincing us that we will get bulky, if that belief isn’t at all logical?

What makes women shy away from lifting heavy even when they KNOW logically that they don’t have the hormones/eat enough calories/lift enough weight to become big and bulky?

I honestly believe it may be our definition of femininity. It is this standard that irrationally makes us fear anything that might take us away from this traditional belief.

I mean really think about it….What words do you associate with feminine? Or even masculinity for that matter.

Feminine – gentle, sensitive, thin, empathetic, caring, compassionate

Masculine – strong, competitive, virility

I know these are generic, but let’s face it….They are to some great extent what most people truly believe.

We like things in black and white – female or male.

We fear the “grey areas.”

And to be a woman who lifts weights…well that area is still grey.

It’s still emotionally  a struggle because it goes against things we’ve been indoctrinated with since we were very young.

I mean shoot, you say to a woman, “Wow your arms are jacked.” Or “Wow your arms are toned.” And I guarantee she will  go home and stare in the mirror and wonder if she is bulky. She may even be so offended by those comments that she cries or turns to friends to tell her she isn’t bulky. (Trust me…I’ve had friends do this).

Even I’ve had moments of being illogical. I’m sure every woman has.

It is hard operating in a “grey area.”

But we can’t give in to that ILLOGICAL fear that we will become bulky.

We can’t give in to all of those freaking people who seem to keep spewing the “Women who lift heavy look like men” phrase.

Because the simple truth is we don’t.

And we never will.

Because even though we may lift like men, we don’t look like them.

(Of course there is still something wrong with the fact that lifting is defined as masculine, but that is a topic for a different day.)



I shudder ever time I hear a woman utter that word.

Actually, I shudder and then I want to shake her until she is a limp pile on the floor…or at least scream at her at the top of my lungs.

This is what I feel like doing when I hear a woman utter the word bulky!

But usually I don’t do either. Usually I just internally roll my eyes and then say, “You won’t get bulky if you lift heavy weights.”

Trust me. You won’t.

As I tell all my clients, if anyone has tried to get huge or “bulky”…it’s me. I’ve lifted super heavy without doing any cardio. I’ve eaten more protein than any human should and I’ve taken supplements that I will never ever try again.

And trust me…I’m not big. Although I am the biggest I’ve ever been and I don’t think my photos look “bulky.”

I’m muscled. I’m “toned.” I’m lean…when I avoid pizza 😉

But I’m nowhere near bulky.

Where does this fear of lifting heavy weights, gaining muscle and becoming bulky or manly come from?

I blame the media. I blame all of us women who perpetuate it. I blame all of the men who make us feel like we should act like the weaker sex.

But I think Caitlin at Fit and Feminist narrowed it down to the true root cause of the whole problem – that society promotes a single body ideal.

All of us women grow up being indoctrinated with a single ideal of female beauty, an ideal that really doesn’t promote lifting heavy weights in the least.

As Caitlin states in her article “Body Image: The Danger of a Single Body Ideal”:

[A] slim figure with breasts that aren’t too big and thighs that don’t touch and a butt that isn’t too flat and nothing that jiggles too much — is desired with such single-mindedness that the non-cosmetic benefits of weight training are dismissed without a second thought.

So we can’t even seen how good weight training is for us because of this feminine ideal. We can’t risk becoming BULKY because BULKY means we look manly and unattractive.


Seriously, how and why did women decide that weight lifting makes them look bulky? I mean how is a lean, toned body not sexy?!? And if you lift weights that is what you will get – a lean, toned body!

I’ve never seen a woman get bulky from lifting weights UNLESS she is  a) taking steroids or b) carrying around a ton of extra fat on top of her muscle. In the second scenario, what actually makes the woman look bulky is the extra fat NOT the muscle.

Sorry, but it’s true.

So next time you go to utter the word BULKY, think for a second about whether or not the person you say it to will want to shake you until you fall limp to the ground.


How do you feel about the word bulky? Have you ever been guilty of worrying that weights would make you manly and “bulky?”

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