“I don’t want to get bulky!”
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
This is often the reaction I hear from many on the topic of CrossFit, or even just lifting weight in general. This is usually mostly with women who, in most cases, want to be “toned” but not “bulky”. So, let’s clear up what all this actually means, and what actually happens.
The vision of being “toned” the way many people want (even including men) requires that there be muscle already there, to ‘tone’ to. Generally inexperienced trainees (most) often need to build that muscle AND lose body fat to get to the point they envision. The ONLY way that muscle can be built to provide the foundation to ‘tone’ to, is through resistance training, NOT cardio!
If the overall goal is fat loss, the diet has to be set up in a way that leans toward a negative energy balance, or caloric deficit. The type of diet; Keto, Paleo, IF, Carnivore, Vegetarian/ Vegan, etc. DOES NOT MATTER! Not a single one of the aforementioned diets are “better” than another, or produce better results. If someone cannot sustain a diet type realistically for longer than a month or two, or it doesn’t provide sufficient protein (if they are also active) than it probably isn’t the best choice...for them, and won’t produce the desired results.
With the proper negative energy balance in place that also accounts for some type of resistance training, individuals should expect to lose roughly up to two pounds a week in some cases, but usually around one half, to one. More than that is typically NOT sustainable over the longer term, and it’s much more likely that the individual rebounds due to too much stress/ diet restriction. If the individual is NOT involved in some type of resistance training, they will tend to also lose more muscle as part of their total weight loss than someone who is resistance training. In most cases, better health is associated with a higher percentage of lean body mass, so that’s something that you’d want to preserve if you are trying to lose weight, something that can only be done with appropriate, and progressive typically higher volume resistance training. The ONLY way one would get “bulky” is by high volume resistance training, PLUS a diet set up to create a caloric surplus where they are GAINING weight each week.
In (very) layman's terms;
Calorie deficit + ONLY cardio = Loss of BOTH lean muscle, AND Fat
Calorie deficit + Resistance training + some cardio = Tone (maintain lean muscle, improve body composition)
Calorie surplus + Resistance training = Bulky
Calorie surplus + Only cardio = Why?