Why Lifting Weights Isn’t Going to Make You Bulky

We get this all the time.

“I don’t want to lift weights because it will make me look bulky.”

This is perhaps the most common misunderstanding in fitness and in this short post we are going to clarify why lifting weights simply does not make you bulky.

How Weightlifting Works

On a super basic level, weightlifting works to help your body put on muscle mass through a process called hypertrophy.

Hypertrophy occurs when you stimulate the muscle to grow through resistance training.

Similar to if you went for a run every day and slowly developed your cardio, weightlifting every day slowly develops the muscles to become larger and more effective at moving weight around.

So… what’s the problem?

Well, many people who walk into a gym and want to start improving their fitness take a look at the dumbells and barbells and avoid them like the plague – why?

Some beginner lifters have the idea that weightlifting will make them look bulky.

This simply isn’t true.

Why Lifting Weights Won’t Make You Bulky

Nine times out of ten any bulk that is created through weightlifting comes from dietary shifts. Those who start lifting weights generally have the goal of putting on muscle mass.

We must make the distinction here between the goal of putting on muscle mass, versus the goal of developing lean muscle and losing weight.

When the individuals goal is to put on muscle mass they are generally eating foods that are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates. They are also usually using a caloric surplus – or that is, they are eating more total calories than their body requires in order to maximize recovery time and muscle mass.

This is completely different than if the individual was to try and develop lean muscle and lose weight.

Those trying to lose weight while building muscle can still use resistance training (lifting weights) while in a mild caloric deficit and will not put on “bulk”.

How to Put on Lean Muscle and Lose Weight

Just to make sure we are all on the same page we have outlined some of the most important steps and considerations you should make to maximize your goal of building a physique without bulking.

1. Maintain a Slight Caloric Deficit

Eating slightly less total calories than your body requires is important to make sure you are not putting on weight and “bulking”.

We recommend using an online calorie calculator or talking to our qualified staff to see how many total calories you should be consuming in a day to lose weight and feel better.

Want to learn more about calories and weight loss? Check out our recent post on how many calories you should be eating daily.

2. Limit High-Fat Foods

High-fat foods are higher in calories than protein and carbohydrates and can sometimes lead to weight gain if consumed on a regular basis without maintaining a caloric deficit.

3. Monitor Your Rep Range

Watch your total volume – in other words, your sets and reps. Your best bet to be will to work in 2-4 sets of a few basics compound exercises like squats, lunges and push/pull movements. This is all you need to get stronger, tone your body, and develop lean muscle. 

You should also be sure to have a professional design a program based around your specific needs and goals.  


No. Lifting weights is not going to make you bulky.

Yes, there are some lifestyle patterns that come into play and can cause you to slowly develop a physique that can look bulky.

Even if you were to start doing serious training to build muscle mass you must understand that this process takes a considerable amount of time.

Picking up weights is not a sure-fire way to put on muscle mass nor is it a method for bulking.

Bulking, weight loss, lean muscle development – all of these goals come with time and practice and utilize a combination of nutritional habits and constant practice in the gym.

If you’re concerned about your goals and if your program is working towards them connect with one of our trainers and we will get you started on the right path.

Connect with a qualified trainer at RPT using this link.