The fear of getting “too big”

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The topic of this post might be yesterday’s news for some but hopefully a good reminder and perhaps eye opener to others. The subject is the fear of getting “too big” from lifting heavy weights and explains some of the actual effect strength training has on weight loss, overall health and muscle gains.
The post targets the female population primarily since it’s usually females that are having most concerns with the fear of getting “to big” and muscular when strength training. The way I see it, this sadly holds many women back in their efforts to reach their goals. Stereotypically and ironically, women tend to lift lighter than what is actually challenging (at the cost of stagnation and lack of optimal results) while men on the other spectrum try to lift heavier weights than adviced (at the cost of form and risk of injury. Ultimately it’s my job, and the job of the trainer to make these two extremes meet somewhere half way.

To further explain my argument, I’d like to quote world-renowned strength coach Michael Boyle:

“It’s foolish and inane to say ‘I don’t want to lift heavy weights, I don’t want to get too big’. We need to stop perpetuating this fraud of “too big”. The “too big’ thing is a result of steroid-loaded athletes pictured on magazine covers. It has nothing to do with real life…the person who usually doesn’t want to get too big is a housewife or stay-at-home mom who has never picked up more than a ten-pound dumbbell…no one, I repeat no one, should ever worry about getting too big. The reality is that the hardest thing to do as a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach is to get someone to gain muscle mass. Strength is easy, muscle mass is much more difficult. The fear of ‘getting too big’ is irrational and probably impossible”.

In support of Boyle’s words above, a study by the American College of Sports Medicine examined the effects of strength training (3 times/week for 6 months) in female subjects. The study came to the conclusion that while strength gains were significant (16 to 53%), gains in muscle mass (hypertrophy) was essentially unchanged. Hence, according to the researchers and the methods of this particular study, women are capable of responding to strength training with considerable increases in strength and only minimal evidence of muscular hypertrophy (muscle gains).

Female bodybuilder with muscular development unlikely a cause of simply hard work in the gym without any ergogenic aids…

Now, please understand that Boyle is known for being a provocative profile in the fitness industry (although in reality he might just be harshly honest when he speaks). “Let’s get right to the truth. The key to improving a bad physique is simple. Hard work. Push yourself. Lose the ‘light weights and take a walk’ thing. The reason we look like crap is that people try to convince us that gardening is exercise”, Boyle continues.

I guess what Boyle is trying to say is don’t be afraid to take your training to the next level. If you are a woman, there is no excuse why you shouldn’t be able to lift heavier weights than your husband. Also, there should be no fear of hard work and definitely no fear of getting “to big” – it’s as absurd as being afraid of getting to much paid if you are performing well at work.

So please, in case you’re not doing it already – start lifting heavy and work hard! Break a sweat, challenge yourself to push limits and you’ll be amazed of the results, positive feedback and reward you’ll receive from this change of mindset. Show your true strength potential – women are and can be extremely strong!

What you put in is what you get, simple as that. Hire a trainer if that is what it takes – with the right supervision and guidance you have all the tools you need to be successful and reach your goals – whatever they might be!

Inspired to make a change and try something new in your life? Contact Fitcorp Asia today for a free consultation and let us help you be the best you can be and get in the best shape of your life!

Fitness Manager
Fitcorp Asia