Toning VS Bulking Up 0
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Toning VS Bulking Up

toning vs bulking up

Toning VS Bulking Up. As a trainer, one of the most common concerns you hear from women is that they don’t want to lift weights for fear of bulking up. This is completely understandable because, unless you are training for body building, most women want definition and toned bodies not huge muscles. The fact of the matter is that lifting weights is an important component of training and one that should not be disregarded. No matter what I said there were always those that didn’t believe me, so let’s just dispel this myth here and now.

toning vs bulking up


You are a woman. Yes it’s that simple. It’s very uncommon for women to bulk up. We just don’t have the required amount of testosterone to build the same muscle mass as men.

Think toning. If it makes it easier to accept, then instead of calling it body building, use the term toning because that’s essentially what you are doing. Rather than building big bulky muscles by lifting weights, you are building long lean muscles which will give you a healthy toned look.

Less weight, more reps. Generally if you are looking to tone up rather than bulk up, then you want to do more repetitions with a lighter weight.  This doesn’t, however, mean that you can get away with reaching for the 2lbs weights (unless you are coming off an injury). Aim to use sufficient weight so that you can’t do more reps than 12 to 14. Remember that you absolutely want to feel a burn. For most women, you’ll initially be lifting between 8 to 25 lbs depending on the exercise. Let’s put it this way, women are not that much weaker than men.

A workout is a workout. Your muscles type is predetermined by genetics. Although I love both Yoga and Pilates and I think they are an essential part of any exercise routine, they in themselves don’t give you longer and leaner muscles. What they do, in fact, is give your muscles a great stretch in addition to some strength training. This means that your posture improves and when you are standing taller, your muscles appear leaner.

Don’t overeat. As we all know, it all comes down to your diet. If you are overeating and lifting weights, then you will get bigger because you aren’t burning enough calories. It comes back down to calories in calories out and this is not the kind of bulk that you want too be putting on.

When you lift weights you create small tears in your muscles. As they heal, your muscles become larger, more defined and stronger. This is a must for us all.  The next time you are at the gym, walk past the machines and pick up some weights. The results might just surprise you!


Do you lift weights at the gym?


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  1. Have come to learn a woman needs to worry less about getting those big muscles, I personally think doing the lifts is great workout.

    1. Exactly!!!!

  2. My husband always told me no one ever did one work out and woke up thinking “OMG MY MUSCLES ARE HUGE!” it takes so much work for women to achieve bulky muscles it doesn’t just happen by accident! My body responds to well to weights, love them!

    1. He was exactly right! Even if women did tend to bulk up it would actually take quite a long time before they got huge. Thank you!!!

  3. It’s so true, women have a harder time bulking up! So I always find it a bit funny whenever I hear women worrying about lifting too much weight. Instead of worrying we should be focusing on just being healthy, strong and proud of our bodies! But thats just my own opinion:)

    xo, jackie

    1. AGREED! In addition I always hate feeling weak. Obviously I don’t want to be huge but I want to be strong.

  4. Monique@The Urban Mum

    I used to lift weights often – now I prefer TRX classes – love the body weight exercises – I also find regular yoga classes brilliant for toning….x

    1. I believe that using your body weight is an excellent way to exercise. It’s all about getting off the couch and actually doing something!

    1. Thank you.

  5. Great post! I totally agree I lift weights as it’s what I need to do to tone up and your body continues burning calories after for longer 🙂 This was a really informative post thanks! xx

    1. My pleasure! I thought it would be a good reminder.

  6. Great article – I try to stick to low weight high reps and I’ve found Pump class is a great way to do that without having to think too hard about what I should be doing! xo

    1. That is awesome! I know what you mean. I also tend to talk myself out of doing just one more rep unless someone is yelling at me.

  7. I had a series of sessions with a personal trainer and really toned up. I never put weight on or “bulked up” depsite lifting heavy weights
    i cannot praise weight training enought for core strength, posture, overall fitness and feeling great
    p.s we have matching website themes – yay!

    1. Thank you so much for this! Weights are so important!
      Love your theme…ha!

  8. I didn’t know it was important to do more reps with les weight. Very useful info, task you! I do yoga and pilates reformer. I just recently started running on the treadmill. Looks like I should add some wight lifting to my routine too.

    1. Those are great workouts and especially Pilates on the reformer. You’ll find that adding a tiny bit of weight lifting will help you excel at everything else.

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