Ahhh– the “big and bulky” question. Since I’ve started this blog, this has been a question that I have been asked countless times. I have found that many people want to work out with weights and do something different in their routine but are concerned about looking bulky and muscly. Lots of our readers on T&T are cardio masters – 60 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical trainer is (literally) no sweat for them. However, when it comes to picking up a dumbbell, doing a push-up, or even performing a squat, people can be apprehensive. Their biggest concern is the topic of my blog post today – if I lift with weights or perform resisted exercises will I get bulky?
The short and easy answer to the question is no you won’t! The longer answer is you can, but you don’t have to. The results that you are going to see depend primarily on how you approach weight training. All of the workouts that I have posted on Tone and Tighten are designed specifically to do just that – tone and tighten. (However – I may be on to something; a sister blog called “Big and Bulky”. I am going to look into that…) In regards to hitting the weights, there are primarily two different styles that exist:
Get big, get bulky. I think the common misconception with the “big and bulky” idea is that it will happen overnight. “As soon as I start lifting with weights I am going to get huge.” If, by some miracle, this happens to you – immediately contact your local health department or nearest professional sports team. You’re going to be worth millions. The truth of the matter is putting on pounds of muscle takes work… a lot of work. The prevailing principle in increasing muscle mass is low reps, high sets. Aggressive muscle gain entails 5+ sets of each exercise including reps of 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 3 with increasing weight each time up to 90% of your one rep max (max weight you can lift once during and activity). In addition, packing on muscle also includes enormous amounts of protein/calories and going to the gym multiple times a day. Most people simply don’t lift this way. They take more of the following approach…
Tone and Tighten – A strong muscle is a tight muscle, while a weak muscle leans a little more to the flabby side. The majority of exercises that I recommended in my physical therapy clinic, as well as the workouts that I design and post on Tone and Tighten, are designed to increase muscle strength without increasing mass. The key difference is the recommended number of sets and reps. Muscle tone is increased by performing high repetitions of an exercise and low sets. We’re not doing sets of 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 3 with increasingly heavier loads of resistance; rather we’re doing three sets of 10–20 (even upwards of multiple minutes) of primarily bodyweight and lower resistance exercises. This type of exercise is an amazing way to increase muscle tone, muscle strength, metabolism, and burn fat. When your body is in shape and your muscles are strong; your metabolism is increased – therefore you burn more calories even at rest. The “flab” and “jiggle” starts to look and feel “firm” and “strong”. All of a sudden you start to become the whole reason why you started following this blog … toned and tightened. 🙂
I encourage you to try it out! Start gradually and work your way in to it, but I promise you the results will be well worth it!
Make it happen,
By Jared Beckstrand