I think it’s time we stop dancing around the topic of getting “bulky” as a woman who lifts.
Saying “lifting weights won’t make a woman bulky” is downplaying the hard work and dedication it takes to be strong. It’s downplaying all those who aspire to build “bulk” (muscle) and strive for their own personal perception of being fit.
In the simplest terms, muscle is what people are referring to when they talk about bulk. Want to be “toned?” You want lean arms? That’s “bulk.” You want flat abs? That’s technically “bulk” too. There is nothing wrong with putting on muscle, whether you’re a woman or a man.
Frankly, looking how you want to look comes down to work—very hard work. For a long time. The kind of work you are proud of. The kind of work you are not sorry or insecure about. The kind of work that surrounds you with people of character – people of substance and determination. In that sense, lifting weights acts as a filter for me. Lifting allows me to surround myself with supportive people who acknowledge and appreciate hard work—like-minded people who are strong physically and mentally too.
I assume some of these friends of mine think I am attractive, or look good. Although that’s nice, I do not do it for them, or for that reason; I do it for me, because I love to move heavy ass weight, and I think it’s time for people to realize that there’s more to being fit than looking good.
The Eye of The Beholder
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that ideal image can never be attained. Not for lack of hard work, and not for lack of dedication or trying—but for lack of perception. Perception is in the eye of the beholder. One person may perceive me as “bulky” or “too big for a woman.” They may “never want to be as big as me.” That’s just their perception. In strongman, I have been told many times how small I am, or how little I am for as strong as I am. Again, this is a matter of perception.
I am writing this article because I am tired of insecure people leading this argument. Women who lift weights and get “bulky” are challenging the stereotype of unfit people; we are challenging their perception and exposing their insecurities. I will admit that I too had fallen prey to the idea that women who lift heavy weights won’t get “bulky”…that was until I realized there are faults to that argument, and those are what I am referring to.
Taking Pride in Your Accomplishments
If you work hard and train hard you WILL have “bulk”…if you didn’t, it would mean you built no muscle mass. Likely this “bulk” others speak of, you are very proud of—as you should be!
If you look in the mirror and YOUR look that you worked YOUR ass off for makes YOU happy, those who don’t agree with you do NOT matter! Their opinions of what’s attractive, or how you should train, do not matter.
How we even got to the point that the reason we lift or train as women is to reach for some unattainable perception of beauty is beyond me, but that whole notion comes from a place of insecurity in one’s own abilities. Like I said, it’s impossible to attain this ideal image as each individual perception is going to distort things.
For others to comment negatively on a women’s physique is wrong, and happens all too often to all of us.
For any man to say to me, “I don’t like my women with that much muscle.” I will reassure your insecurities—that will NEVER be an issue. To have the kind of muscle I have as a women comes from a place of security and strength of my own character; a place of self-love. That place has no tolerance for comments from weak minded individuals. For women to attack me, or others, who have bulk that we worked very hard for—remember, your perception of bulk is your reality, not ours.
When you comment like this, not only are you reassuring this mistaken idea that we should be training for looks, or to please others, but you you are also holding us up to YOUR perception.
If you think about it, if we reversed the roles and I commented to an overweight person I thought they were “too overweight for a woman” wouldn’t I get more negativity thrown at me? It’s wrong to say such things.
How come those who tell me I am “too big for a women” do not receive this same kind of scolding?
A Games athlete’s “bulk” comes from her rigorous training for strength, speed, and endurance. The bulk I have as a competitive powerlifter and strongman comes from training events, and deadlifting over 400 lbs. The bulk sprinters have comes from honing their quickness.
The reality is, we are all individuals. We all have our reasons for why we train. We all have our own perception of how we want to look; there is no 1 right way. For those of us who are training and getting “bulky,” we are very proud of that muscle mass we have built. We are very proud of that strength we have developed, and we do not need others from a place of insecurity reassuring other insecure women that “you won’t get bulky lifting heavy weights” because it all depends on personal goals as to what that even means.