I have talked to many people about their weight training goals. What they would like to achieve and so on and very often I hear this comment from both men and women. “I don’t want to get too big or muscular”. This belief often turns them completely off performing weight training or lifting heavy weights.
This maybe a very common concern for many people, but I can’t help being slightly amused and irritated by this line of thinking because it’s simply not true!
It’s very understandable why certain people don’t want to get too big. Most women don’t want a muscular body as it’s not considered to be feminine, and some men just want to gain a little extra muscle and get cut and go after that toned fitness model look.
The misconception is that lifting weights, especially lifting heavy weights will build muscle mass so quickly that the growth will go out of control and the individual will soon be looking like a professional bodybuilder or the incredible hulk. However the reality is very different, muscle takes a long time to build up. It requires the right diet and the right amount of intensive training to really make a difference, and of course the right genetics.
How quickly can you gain muscle?
The amount of muscle we can gain naturally for men is around 5 – 10lbs a year, and this is with a good solid intensive weight training routine and a suitable diet designed to gain muscle mass, continued throughout the whole year.
The amount of muscle women can gain in a single year is even less, for most women any gains will be unnoticeable. The truth of the matter is that most people will never be able to pack on loads of muscle mass because they simply just don’t have the right genetics for it. So if you are concerned about getting too big or muscular, don’t worry and consider that it might not even be possible for you, even if it’s possible it’s still hard to do and any gains will be slow and gradual.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are trying to avoiding looking like one of those very muscular male and female bodybuilders is, that many of them are on performance enhancing supplements. So unless you are going to go to the same extreme measures you needn’t worry yourself.
Whether your goal is to build mass or just a slight increase in muscle, the intensity of your workouts should remain the same. Lift heavy with good technique because this is how you gain muscle no matter what your goal is. When you eventually reach your goal you can simply reduce the amount of weight training you do, however don’t stop weight training completely or you may lose the muscle that you have gained.
So to sum up, don’t worry about getting too big or muscular. Muscle growth is slow and you are never going to wake up one morning and think, “dam! I’ve gotten too big!”.