Will lifting weights make me bulky?

Get bulky is a common certain for most women wanting to get into weight training.  Of course you don't hear that much from the men but so don't either.  The one thing you have to remember building muscle takes time and it doesn't happen overnight.  Certain training programs can help you achieve that bodybuilder look but for most it will not.  Most people don't train that hard or intense to gain that kind of size of muscles.  Also nutrition plays a part in building that muscle.  However if your feeding your body right with the proper nutrition and working out hard by increasing weights on a regular basis you can bulk up.  Just remember it is always good to seek professional advice to make sure the program you are on will work the best for you and your goals.
Lifting weights has several different methods and variables to meet the needs of those who use them.  Weight training is a great way to lose weight, gain flexibiltiy, gain strength and even can provide a cardio workout.  If you want to build lots of muscle, it can do that too.  However, if you are just starting out and want to be heathly and not bulky, start out with low weights, higher repititions in a slow and controlled manner.  Don't be afraid to increase your work load so that you feel fatigued when you are finished with your set.  Regardless of your goals weight training can be possitively incorporated into your program.
Wendy Batts
Not necessarily.  A resistance training routine should not make you bulky unless that is the desired goal of your program.  Generally speaking, you should not get bulky from your resistance training program as long as you monitor your calorie intake to ensure you are not eating more calories than you are burning, which would lead to a possible weight increase.
While there are resistance training programs designed to make you big and bulky, there are number of factors that contribute to making that happen.  These factors include: the number of repetitions performed for each set of an exercise, the amount of resistance being used, the speed of your movements, the amount of rest taken in between sets, and the number of calories you consume in your diet. 

I have been training for a very long time, and most people have said to me at some point or another, I would like to get a little bigger, but not “too big.”  I have to say I have never had anybody call me the next day after a workout and say, “Rick, dude, something went horribly wrong. I woke up this morning and I am unreasonably huge! This is unbelievable. I told you I did not want to get bulky.” Getting bulky is difficult. It is hard to do. I have been working out for a long time and I am not that big of a guy. If you work out really hard very consistently with excellent nutrition and genetics you may get bulky. So, will lifting weights get me bulky?  Unless you try really, really hard, to get bulky the answer is absolutely not.

Many women are fearful of lifting weights thinking that by doing so they will end up looking more masculine than feminine. This is not true. Women do not have the high testosterone levels that men do, therefore women will never be able to get as big as men unless some kind of supplement is being taken. When performing your weight training routine make sure you challenge yourself and your muscles by lifting heavy weights. Choose a weight that would make it challenging for you to complete 12 to 15 repetitions of an exercise. If you could continue to perform more repetitions in a set then you need to lift a heavier weight. Perform three to four sets of each exercise with approximately 45 seconds rest between each set. Lifting weights is a great way for women to tone and shape their bodies. It also helps reduce body fat, develop strong bones, decrease the risk for osteoporosis and help improve self esteem. Always give yourself at least one day rest before training the same muscle groups. Rest and recovery is an essential part of any weight training program.

Only if that is your goal.  Strength training will help you lose weight faster and keep it off in the long run.  It will keep you from dropping muscle along with the fat and prevent your metabolism from slowing down.  As the fat melts off, your body will look leaner and firmer.  Just make sure you’re lifting enough weight to build muscle

Women do not possess the levels of testosterone to create the size that you see in males. Lean muscle increases metabolism which burns fat faster. Most women benefit from training in the 12-15 repetition range with a weight that is challenging so that the final 2-3 repetitions are a struggle. You must use a weight that is heavy enough to force changes in your muscles.

I admit that lifting weights can make you big and bulky, but it certainly doesn't have to and many people who lift weights will never come close to being considered big or bulky. Most of the time, people who are incredibly muscular only get that way as a result of very high volume of training, genetic predisposition, and a nutritional program designed for muscle growth.

Unfortunately, people who are unfamiliar with lifting weights or other forms of resistance training typically don't realize that muscle growth is only one small part of what you can accomplish by lifting weights. It is very common for people, especially women, to be so afraid of getting big or bulky that they choose to avoid lifting weights altogether. They instead, focus on performing less taxing forms of exercise, such as walking or other forms of light cardio, which do not offer all the benefits of lifting weights.

I believe that much of the confusion over the effects of lifting weights essentially comes down to not being familiar with program design or understanding that different program designs lead to very different results. Of course, you should not be expected to understand the nuances of program design, as that is the job of qualified fitness professionals. On the other hand, some general knowledge of program design is very useful for clearing up misconceptions such as lifting weights will cause you to become big and bulky.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When we think about muscles, we tend to think about really big ones (Hulk Hogan) or really nice ones (Brad Pitt's abs, Hillary Swank's shoulders). But working your muscles isn't necessarily about making you big, brawny, and eligible for the NFL draft. But by focusing on the right muscles and using the right plan, you won't add bulky muscle to your frame. You'll firm up, and you'll stimulate the amount of muscle growth needed to help burn extra calories.

Continue Learning about Strength Training & Exercise

Tone Your Muscle to Preserve Your Mind
Tone Your Muscle to Preserve Your Mind
Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic skier, challenged a flock of celebs at the 2013 Met Gala, saying they were half her weight but skinny fat, pointing out they...
Read More
Will I get big muscles if I work out with weights?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
You can get big muscles if your nutrition and workout style are set up to allow it to happen. It...
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
"No Pain, No Gain" Doesn't Apply to Strength Training
"No Pain, No Gain" Doesn't Apply to Strength Training

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.