When You Build Muscle, How Much is Too Much?

One of the most common concerns I hear when folks start CrossFit or a strength training program is building too much muscle.  “I don’t wanna be bulky,” or “I don’t want to get too big” are common phrases that tend to be shared primarily women, but I have heard plenty of men say the same thing.  While I understand the concern that comes with any change that happens to your body, I think this topic is worth going over.

Photo: Scott Webb | Unplash

First it’s important to be reminded, in case we forgot, that building muscle is the very point of strength training and one of the foundations of a good exercise regimen.  It would be like going to a business coach to make money and saying, “Well, I don’t wanna get too rich…”  I say this because I want you to be excited about getting into shape and transforming those muscles into the sexy, strong muscles they can be.

Now, most often this worry of building too much muscle is a misunderstanding.  That is, putting on lean muscle mass takes hard work and dedication.  It is simple enough, but it takes some perseverance and sweat to do so. Often women fear bulking up or looking masculine, but something to consider is that men can naturally build more muscle than women because of their higher testosterone levels. So don’t fret ladies! Before you shy away from starting an exercise program to avoid becoming muscle bound, consider all the various health benefits that occur when you gain those gains!

photo: Viktor Hanacek | PicJumbo

There are tons of paybacks to doing strength training and the lean muscle that follows:

  • Building muscle helps manage body fat – Maintaining muscle requires more energy than almost any other tissue in the body.  By increasing muscle mass, you effectively boost your metabolism which helps to burn excess calories.   Muscles stimulated by strength training even consume calories after the exercise is done, while you rest! That means no more endless treadmills to help manage your body composition.
  • Fight osteoporosis and build strong bones – By the time a woman hits the age of 30, she’s reached peak bone mass. After this, bone loss occurs at a rate of three to five percent per decade. Likewise, after age 40, women also tend to lose muscle mass, which is often replaced with fat due to the metabolism slow-down that happens around this time. Strength training helps both to increase bone density as well as maintain those lean muscles.
  • Fend off diabetes and other illnesses – developing proper amounts of lean body mass can help prevent the onset of insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes. One reason for this is strength training makes your muscles better able to grab sugars directly from your blood stream. Elevated blood sugar levels from an improper diet leads to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Fight this trend by putting on muscle.
  • Confidence and then some – A sexy body is a muscular body.  Defined muscles always look good and strong is the new skinny. Nothing boosts your confidence like looking great.  Not only that, but a good workout will empower you, making you feel accomplished.  Self-care is all but lost these takes. Take the time to show yourself some love by working that body letting it be all it can be.

These are just a few of the many benefits, both in body and mind that occur when you start an exercise program and don’t look back.  So don’t be shackled by fear.  Start training and once you see and feel all the amazing benefits, I promise that putting on muscle will be a priority, not a detriment.

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