Advertisement

Will I gain excess bulk like men if I do strengthening exercises?

No.  It is highly unlikely that performing strengthening exercises alone will cause you to gain excessive muscle mass.  A hormone called testosterone is influential in the development of muscle mass in both men and women.  However, while testosterone can be found in both sexes, women produce this hormone in much smaller quantities.  This means that women’s bodies do not naturally produce enough testosterone on their own to build excessive bulk. 

This is a common fear of most women.  The answer is no you will not bulk up as long as your not continually increase your weight on a regular basis.  It takes time to grow muscle and for most women they just don't increase the weight enough to get the big size like men do.  Instead of focusing on increasing weight to make it more challenging try changing your repetitions or even tempo.
While it is less likely a woman will gain excess bulk like men, it is possible to bulk up to some degree.  However, this can be avoided by making sure that you perform higher reps, with lighter weights.  You will want to keep the reps at 12 to 15 reps for 3 sets.  You will know when its time to increase the weight you are using when the 12th through 15th reps of the 3rd set are still fairly easy to accomplish.

Circuit training is a great way to increase strength endurance, increase Lean Muscle Mass (LMM), and trim down.  You also want to make sure your caloric intake/caloric burn match your goals.  If you want to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than you burn.  If you want to maintain your weight, you will need to consume/burn equally.  Consume more calories than you burn, and you will naturally gain weight. 

What you can really expect with strength training is improved posture, increased metabolism, better balance and coordination, greater stamina and endurance as well as feeling better in general.  The benefits of strength training far outweigh the risk of bulking, especially if you follow the suggestion above for reps and sets and eat properly.
This is a question posed to trainers on a daily basis.  The short answer is no.  For most women it would be very difficult to gain a lot of muscle even if you were trying to.

What strength training can do is improve posture, increase metabolism, increase bone density, improve balance, improve coordination and possibly ease joint pain caused by muscle weakness.  

In the end there are many positives that we can find in strength training. The possible negative of excess bulk is just not likely. 

Continue Learning about Strength Training & Exercise

4 Reasons to Strength Train as You Age
4 Reasons to Strength Train as You Age
Regular exercise is vital to health at any age, but especially as we get older—and become more prone to joint and muscle stiffness, and orthopedic inj...
Read More
Is jumping rope an effective warm-up before my resistance training workout?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Jumping rope may not be the most-effective way to warm-up before resistance training. The purpose of...
More Answers
Easy At-Work Exercises for Nurses
Easy At-Work Exercises for NursesEasy At-Work Exercises for NursesEasy At-Work Exercises for NursesEasy At-Work Exercises for Nurses
No time for the gym? Tone trouble spots during your shift with these moves.
Start Slideshow
How Can I Perform Strength Training Exercises Safely?
How Can I Perform Strength Training Exercises Safely?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.