Will resistance training make me bulky?

While the potential does exist for resistance training to make you bulky, there are many factors that contribute to making that happen.  These 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 being consumed in your diet.  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 keep your calorie intake under control to ensure you are not eating more than you are burning, leading to a calorie surplus and potential weight gain.
No and yes.  There are several factors that can effect if you are to get bulky or not.  For most people don't workout hard enough or eat enough to get bulky at all.  However if you have a surplus of calories and increasing weights as your exercises get easier you will most definately gain some size.  Your sets, reps, tempo and how much weight you use each will effect what happens.  Just remember to contact your fitness professional if you are unsure if the program you are on will cause this. 
Anyone is capable of increasing size depending upon how he or she works out, and caloric consumption.  The key to toning and increasing lean muscle mass (LMM) without bulking up, is in the number of repetitions, sets and tempo of the repetitions.

In order to increase LMM without bulking, I have my clients perform 12-15 repetitions of an exercise and normally 3 sets at a moderate tempo.  When performed in a circuit format, you increase your caloric burn because there is little to no rest during your workout.  Burning more calories than you consume will naturally help you lean out and tone up.
Wendy Batts
The short answer is NO, unless you eat to get bulky and train to get bulky. If weight training was all it took to get bulky then just about everyone that touched a weight in the gym would be getting bigger. The reality is that it takes plenty of calories and a lot of work in the weight room to get bigger. For most of us, weight training is an absolute necessity to achieving that truly sculpted appearance that we so desire.

To get bigger, you must be in a calorie surplus where you are eating more calories than you burn, be training with moderate to heavy weights, performing fewer repetitions, use a higher total volume and choose exercises that emphasize or “isolate” muscle groups, and have enough male hormones to signal large amounts of muscle growth. If your goal is to lose or maintain your weight you will most likely be monitoring your caloric intake and be performing workouts that encourage endurance, overall strength, stability and performance as opposed to size. If you are unsure of what types of workouts you should be doing, seek out the help of a qualified fitness professional. They can be sure you are on the right track to your fitness goals.

So the bottom line: get out and start resistance training! Chances are it will help get you to your ideal body.

It depends on the type of training that you perform. Generally, to bulk up one needs to perform lower repetitions using higher weights and consume enough protein to build up the muscle tissue. Those who perform higher reps using lower weights can expect a more lean and toned appearance. However, there are variations among various body types in which those with genetically muscular builds can bulk up a little more than the general population.

While resistance training can lead to gains in lean body mass or muscle, it is not the muscle that leads to the bulky look. Bulky people look bulky because they haven’t lost the fat on, in, and under the muscles they’ve developed. 

Maybe resistance training will make your body big and bulky, but only if your genetics call for it, and usually only if you are a male. Men have a high level of the hormone testosterone, which creates large muscle growth. In contrast, women have low levels of testosterone and high levels of estrogen. A woman's biology does not allow her to grow very big muscles, unless she has help, but genetics may play a factor. We all have different body types. Some of us are more athletically built, which may produce a more bulky appearance. Learning to resistance train correctly will develop a lean, balanced physique.

While strength/resistance training may lead to the development of new lean muscle tissue, strength training in itself will not lead to an increase in weight. However, some form of resistance training or strength training is an essential program component if you are looking to change your body composition (how you look!).

The ratio muscle to fat roughly equals 1lb. of lean muscle is equal to 3 lbs. of fat mass. This means that fat mass takes up more space/volume than lean muscle. If anything, research in weight gain/loss is more directly related to an individual’s caloric consumption. In order to lose weight, an individual would need to eat less calories [energy] than the calories their body burns [expended energy] on a daily basis. To gain weight, an individual would need to consume more calories than their body burns on a daily basis. If anything, if an individual who is looking to lose weight increases the amount of time they spend strength training, provided they are eating less calories than their body burns, what they are actually doing is increasing the amount of activity their body is performing each day and increasing their daily caloric burn...thus resulting in weight loss from a negative energy balance and the body needing to replace lost energy by metabolizing energy stored in fat cells. Also, since lean muscle mass takes up significantly less space than fat, the amount of noticeable weight gain would be hardly noticeable to the average individual on a day to day basis. It takes the body significantly more time to build noticeable weight gain in lean muscle tissue. However, the body will start to convert excess consumed energy that it can't use into fat storage pretty quickly.

It should also be noted that most individuals will experience a weekly fluctuation in weight gain/loss depending on food and fluid amounts that are consumed and/or lost. Ultimately, each person's metabolism and chemical make-up is different and individual results will vary. Dr. Mike Clark's comment is also true in that your genetics heavily influence how much and how quickly your body will add mass and what it will look like in the end.

It can if you are using a specific protocol. Resistance training can do many things for you depending on the weight, reps, sets, tempo, and rest period. A variation in any one of these factors can change your body’s adaption. This is a great reason to consult with a trainer to create a specific goal and design a program to get you there.

What’s up Everyone...

I get asked this question a lot, but mainly by female clientele. Actually, they don’t even ask.... They basically say, “I don’t want to look like a guy (lol).” Well don’t worry ladies; you don’t have a significant amount of testosterone in your body which is one of the main things that help produce muscles and or a bulky look. Now there are other factors that can contribute to a bulky look. One example would be Calorie Intake. It’s simple Math... If your taking in more calories than you are actually expending there is a chance you will store those calories as fat and by doing so gain weight and appear bulky. Another example would be Heavy Training with Free Weights. I’m not saying that this alone builds bulk, but what it does do is build muscle. And depending on your body type this could appear to be bulk weight that you're not looking for.

So with that said, I absolutely encourage all clients to resistant train without the fear of bulking. You will ultimately gain muscle which in turn will help burn body fat. Remember to maintain moderate weight with high reps and a pretty fast tempo to keep heart rate up and increase calorie expenditure. Keep a track on your calories as well and you will able to receive all the benefits of Resistance training without Bulk.

Good Luck

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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.