1

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Crossfit and big biceps? (yes I'm female)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 06, 2013 at 1:05 PM

So I quit sugar and grains two months ago, I'm doing my Whole 30, feeling good about this and want to make permanent changes. I'm reading Paelo Coach, which has a lot of good thoughts re making the long-term Paleo commitment. But it's written by a CrossFit trainer and is definitely pro-CF.

I have a blown out knee so initially I dismissed CF out of hand. I've done rehab traditionally and via Pilates, but I also ran on a rebuilt ACL for too many yers and now I can hardly speed walk without pain--something that's incredibly frustrating for me.

Before having kids I always had a "good body" and got back there after kid #1 and am getting there after kid #2. I do build muscle quickly, which is why I could never get into biking v running (immediate giant quads).

Find it kind if annoying that when you google "crossfit bulky women" you get all these trainers with their glib statements about women not being able to bulk, yadda yadda. And they're like, look up images of these chicks!!! And you do and they are obviously very strong, dedicated, fit. They have flat if sometimes painfully-looking overdeveloped abs. And, to me, really big arms. I don't see how the examples refute the "Crossfit makes you bulky" fear. I guess "bulk" means different things to different people.

So, Crossfit is not for me, right? I'm guessing Paleo women didn't have 12-pack abs. Not that that's the end all be all. But when you see women in traditional cultures they look strong and lean (more like my ideal) and no guns.

1a91ec126b2b4189539b028d2767e518

(320)

on April 07, 2013
at 06:13 AM

I disagree in part. I do not find hard muscles on a female to be repulsive. Form follows function. Women who surf develop back and shoulder muscles. Weightlifting develops everywhere resistance is applied. Speed skaters get very strong leg muscles. The body adapts to the stressors applied to it. Women have 5% to 10% the testosterone that men have. It is virtually impossible for a woman to look like a man or become a man through exercise, without exogenous testosterone. That said, fit women can certainly be much stronger than wimpy men.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 06, 2013
at 04:07 PM

And here you go, you'll get every "genetic freak" female in this thread who builds muscle like nobody's business... in 3, 2, 1... But perhaps they're just under-muscled, as it's rather easy build muscle when you're underweight in that regard.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:35 PM

Calisthenics an be hard on the joints, but Convict Conditioning is good, IMO.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:32 PM

She could also have a look at callisthenics and maybe the Convict Conditioning (http://convictconditioning.org/) book of bodyweight exercises. Each body part is aisled and targeted from different levels of difficulty movements so that it's easy to progress on them. Some balance and core strength is needed so if you cannot do them then you will be forced to stop. Difficult to get hurt with them.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:28 PM

Oh noes! I understood it the wrong way then, sorry! I guess not being native English speaker I should carefully read things... hehe. Then I guess the only way to find out is to try, I don't think that she would end with quite big arms even so if she does not focus specially on them IMHO, but you never know...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:16 PM

I think she actually wants to AVOID the big muscles, Albert!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 06, 2013
at 01:37 PM

I'd put money down that the majority of "crossfit bulky women" pictures aren't actually women who Crossfit. And even if they are, they're probably a tiny fraction of the women who do.

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10 Answers

4
1a91ec126b2b4189539b028d2767e518

(320)

on April 06, 2013
at 09:53 PM

I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing the problem here. The media has brainwashed women to buy into the emaciated skinny fat look. To me that looks absolutely hideous.

On the other hand, women on steriods is the polar opposite, with the masculinizing effects of a manjaw, hair growing in places it shouldn't, clitoris enlargement, lowered voice, backne (back acne), rough skin, in effect, becoming a transman. Many of these steroid-induced effects can become permanent.

Women lifting, exercising, and doing things right end up with a body that goes in the direction your genetics are programmed to do. This is natural. And in my opinion, there is nothing hotter or right with the universe than women who are fit, with muscle that was naturally developed.

Don't let the haters tell you otherwise. Muscle is okay.

2
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on April 07, 2013
at 06:13 AM

Here's a pic of an Olympic female powerlifter http://www.t-nation.com/img/photos/2011/11-701-02/female-deadlift.jpg

Nothing wrong with that at all. Of course, each woman varies with her own training, her own natural body composition. But if any women were going to be over-built, it would be these women. Most men do not even get that ripped without steroids.

But even women who do get big, what's the big deal? It's simply a challenge to our gender assumptions. Do CF if you want, and do it because it makes you feel good. Or do something else. Give it a try and see what it does do, instead of not trying it because you're worried about what it MIGHT do. Even if you find it's not working, I'm sure the effects will be reversible.

1
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on April 06, 2013
at 03:05 PM

I absolutely hear you! I've heard loads of people say women don't bulk unless they do LOADS of training and I'm sorry, but this is a LIE! I've seen lots of paleo/cross fit girls which much bigger muscles than I'd like. I've been on a crew team and see lots of big shoulders and quads on ladies, too

Like you, I don't want big biceps or to thicken out my waist with muscle. I don't do crossfit for this reason. However, I do do weights, and haven't bulked up too much because I only do them 2x a week. I do low reps, heavy weights. Maybe this is the solution for crossfit - do it, but not often? If you feel you're getting to big, stop/reduce.

I also don't eat protein after weights work-outs! From what I've seen, low weights/high reps doesn't make you bulk, high weights/low reps doesn't make you bulk a lot, but med-high weight and reps will make you gain

I have more muscle than some women and I don't want more, because I'm short, and want smaller limbs. I'm just too small (5'1") to look good with any more muscle. A lot of it is genetic though - I always had more muscle than some girls even when I did no weight trained and hardly ate any protein.

1
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:19 PM

If I had your knee issues, I would definitely avoid Crossfit. Too much chance of injury.

Have you looked into Body By Science? I am doing BBS-inspired lifting every 4 days (plus lots of gentle walking/cycling.) Much easier on the joints, IMO. (speaking as a former personal trainer!)

With some IF thrown in to lean out, I am getting closer to your "ideal".

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:32 PM

She could also have a look at callisthenics and maybe the Convict Conditioning (http://convictconditioning.org/) book of bodyweight exercises. Each body part is aisled and targeted from different levels of difficulty movements so that it's easy to progress on them. Some balance and core strength is needed so if you cannot do them then you will be forced to stop. Difficult to get hurt with them.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:35 PM

Calisthenics an be hard on the joints, but Convict Conditioning is good, IMO.

0
1a91ec126b2b4189539b028d2767e518

(320)

on April 07, 2013
at 06:16 AM

I disagree in part. I do not find hard muscles on a female to be repulsive. Form follows function. Women who surf develop back and shoulder muscles. Weightlifting develops everywhere resistance is applied. Speed skaters get very strong leg muscles. The body adapts to the stressors applied to it. Women have 5% to 10% the testosterone that men have. It is virtually impossible for a woman to look like a man or become a man through exercise, without exogenous testosterone. That said, fit women can certainly be much stronger than wimpy men.

0
24c27817ad9ac518946dda4a131737b5

on April 07, 2013
at 12:13 AM

I do not deliberately troll for downvotes - it's just the way I naturally think on issues, but here goes:

The ideal feminine form in terms of weight, IMO, is defined by the absence of excess fat (on the high side), and the absence of a bony waif-like thinness (on the low side). It's the absence of defect that makes the female body attractive, rather than supposed additions such as ornamental muscle, tatoo, or belly ring. The genes, given proper nutrition, will express the healthy form they were selected to.

I'd guess most healthy bodies do not deviate far from the ideal form probably due to the intense sexual selection that is always ongoing. Very few ppl appear gnomishly stunted, have weird bone spurs jutting out, or suffer any gross departure from bilateral symmetry.

As to musculature: In the opinion of this hetero male, hard muscles on a female are absolutely repulsive. My vote goes to the lean form with soft curves that come from natural body fat that females should have. Tone is nice. But the tone that is genuinely attractive is that natural tone of those in the bloom of youth, not the type added by resistance training.

That is to say, lean girls in good health (eat well, exercise), will have nearly their best possible shape by default, and needn't think too much about body sculpting or suffer from imagined body dysmorphia. (This comment isn't so much a response to the current post, but to similar posts that regularly appear.)

1a91ec126b2b4189539b028d2767e518

(320)

on April 07, 2013
at 06:13 AM

I disagree in part. I do not find hard muscles on a female to be repulsive. Form follows function. Women who surf develop back and shoulder muscles. Weightlifting develops everywhere resistance is applied. Speed skaters get very strong leg muscles. The body adapts to the stressors applied to it. Women have 5% to 10% the testosterone that men have. It is virtually impossible for a woman to look like a man or become a man through exercise, without exogenous testosterone. That said, fit women can certainly be much stronger than wimpy men.

0
Medium avatar

on April 06, 2013
at 04:35 PM

I've always wondered, is it that these women got HUGE muscles or simply less body fat % making them far more defined and shaped than normal? Women don't tend to look like Arnold without steroids. But they can work to a body % low enough for high muscle definition with enough effort.

I personally don't have this fear, though. I want abs and I'd be all about muscley arms.

0
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 06, 2013
at 03:41 PM

I'm with you. I could do nothing but pushups every day and I'd have giant biceps. After trying everything, I've pretty much decided that this is my lot. Either be fat, or bulky! So I'm just trying to keep the bulk down. I crossfit 2 days a week, and walk the other days, with lots of mobility work to try and keep the muscles leaned out. I'm working through MobilityWOD from the beginning. I've also had my eye on The Bar Workout, but haven't purchased yet. Thin arms and legs just aren't my lot. But at least I can avoid jiggly!

One other thought - the only exercise that has ever somewhat leaned me out is swimming. I don't have access to a pool right now, but with your knee problems, I think that would be a great option if you can join a Y or something.

0
5a36ff2b32fd2711d4bafba535f90df2

on April 06, 2013
at 02:29 PM

I have considered this before. Here is my two cents: try to get yourself within a good range of body fat percentage. Once this is complete, take up low rep weight lifting exercises (except for the legs where you have joint problems; for those you can do high reps, and for abs as well). The reason is that low reps (up to 6 or so) encourage increasing muscle density (more muscle cells) and neurological strength without increasing volume much, while high reps encourage the 'bubbling up' of muscle due to the increase of muscle cells.

Hope that helps! Also, this guy on youtube seems to know what he is talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jlvi13

0
048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

on April 06, 2013
at 01:40 PM

When people say that women are not able to "bulk" refered to put on a lot of muscle, they may have some true in this because of the fact that women have low levels of testosterone, which is the main muscle building hormone. That being said, there's a little bit of it, and also estradiol, the feminine counter-part hormone, can play a good role in muscle building. But they are certainly at a disadvantage.

Then, crossfit for big muscles may do the job, so I'd not lose faith on it and keep training if you like it. But, if you want big arms, maybe you could hit them in a more bodybuilding type of training. Try isolation movements on the biceps, with heavy weights that allow you to do between 8 to 12 repetitions. Slow movement and trying to concentrate on the mind-muscle connection, focus on the negative part of the movement where a lot of fibres are recruited.

Here are some exercise examples.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/muscle/id/15/muscle/biceps http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/muscle/id/10/muscle/triceps

CrossFit is great, but is more geared towards explosiveness and overall strength, and that's good, just not specially centred on hypertrophy (what you are seeking).

A Paleo diet should allow to put some muscle, just try to have a moderate-to-high carb/protein meal just post-workout. That will aid protein synthesis in the muscles a lot.

Remember that to have that hard and strong look, it may be easier to lean out and try to get as much low body fat % as possible than seeking for bulking up. If not able to put some serious muscle mass, at least the lower body-fat will give a more ripped-astonishing look. That's what most impressive girls on CrossFit or body-building do look, and if they are too 'beefy' then... you may suspect that there's some 'special' methods behind it.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:28 PM

Oh noes! I understood it the wrong way then, sorry! I guess not being native English speaker I should carefully read things... hehe. Then I guess the only way to find out is to try, I don't think that she would end with quite big arms even so if she does not focus specially on them IMHO, but you never know...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 06, 2013
at 02:16 PM

I think she actually wants to AVOID the big muscles, Albert!

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