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Exercise for women - I'm bulking up, help!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 03, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Help! I'm starting to bulk up unintentionally and am looking for any fitness tips.

Here are my stats: 25 yr old female, 5'3", 115 lb. Started eating loosely Paleo a year and a half ago and strictly Paleo half a year ago. The Paleo diet worked wonders for me (regular periods, more energy, etc.) and so I decided about three months ago to look into getting in shape, not for weight loss (my weight hasn't changed for over a decade) but to get fit/stronger and healthier. I've been doing body weight circuits 3x a week (3 sets of 15 reps, nothing too intense) along with some simple hiking/walking/hula hooping for fun. My job is a desk job but I've adjusted things to make it a standing desk job.

About a month or so ago I noticed my thighs were getting thicker (my quads are noticeably visible) and my pants are much tighter around my butt. My weight hasn't changed and I'm seeing a hint of abs so I'm sure it's muscle gain and not fat. I also haven't altered my diet and have been eating the same amount. Some of my fat has disappeared but it's nothing significant, so overall I'm looking bulkier than three months ago even though the only intense workout I'm doing are the body weight circuits. I've always been prone to easily gaining muscle especially in my lower body (I used to go cycling but quit because my thighs were getting ridiculous).

My question is, is there a better fitness regimen for women who easily bulk up? Should I switch to doing something like yoga and pilates? I want to get stronger without having to get new pants! Also why am I not losing more of my fat?

9029f42d4cd924d11d9bf31baddc40b2

(5)

on July 03, 2013
at 09:54 PM

Thanks for the response! I'll try the tape measure method for a few months to really track things and either stick to what I'm doing or switch to yoga depending on the results. Yeah the gaining muscle/no weight change did seem strange...I should be gaining some muscle weight so maybe I am losing some fat somewhere. My waist does seems smaller so I guess various body parts react differently. Guess I'll find out with the tape measure. Totally understand the boozing...that was the most difficult part when I went strictly Paleo. Maybe I'll cut myself some slack this weekend. Thanks again!

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 03, 2013
at 09:05 PM

Sorry guys, I can see where she's coming from. You might find muscular women sexy but most of us shorties are pretty terrified of adding width. Taller girls carry it off better :(

Eb5ad630bb366c5f7dcf656810aa3f95

(506)

on July 03, 2013
at 04:43 PM

My wife lifts HEAVY and has remained very slim, just strong!

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 03, 2013
at 01:43 PM

Agreed. A woman with a muscular ass is sexy, don't let anyone tell you differently.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on July 03, 2013
at 11:44 AM

Amen .

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6 Answers

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3
67871ef2326f29da48f1522827fc0f80

(704)

on July 03, 2013
at 08:57 PM

I'm really surprised that you're getting bigger but not showing a weight increase! Here's why:

I'm about your size (fatter at the moment but the majority of my life I'm a size 4).

When I'm strength training -- and I mean traditional (failure in 8-12 reps) style, I get smaller and tighter but my weight doesn't change.

You're having the opposite: getting bigger with no weight change.

You're talking about how your clothing fits and that's a fantastic measure. Since you're tracking these changes, have you considered using a tape measure? You know the drill: neck, forearms, upper arms, bust, chest (band), umbilical, hips, abductors, thigh, calf...monthly?

It's worth keeping tabs on for a few months to see how your body is changing in a rather scientific way.

One place where I get smaller, then get a little larger (when I'm training and not eating like a pig and boozing) is the upper arm BUT that looks sexy and I get lots of compliments.

Your bum may be filling your trousers but is it high and tight? High and tight is GOOD.

So, I guess if you want to look willowy, traditional ST may not be for you.

Stick to yoga and barre (standing ballet type, isolated repetitive moves) if you don't like the way traditional ST affects your body. While I like 'everything,' I look BEST (most compliments, look great naked) when I'm lifting and eating moderately low carb and not boozing.

But I like booze and chocolate. It's whatever fills your life with bliss!

9029f42d4cd924d11d9bf31baddc40b2

(5)

on July 03, 2013
at 09:54 PM

Thanks for the response! I'll try the tape measure method for a few months to really track things and either stick to what I'm doing or switch to yoga depending on the results. Yeah the gaining muscle/no weight change did seem strange...I should be gaining some muscle weight so maybe I am losing some fat somewhere. My waist does seems smaller so I guess various body parts react differently. Guess I'll find out with the tape measure. Totally understand the boozing...that was the most difficult part when I went strictly Paleo. Maybe I'll cut myself some slack this weekend. Thanks again!

8
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 03, 2013
at 10:24 AM

Extra muscle and extra fat in the lower body on women is linked to improved metabolic fitness. These are not bad things to have happened to your body. They are happening because you are getting healthier. What is healthy and media images and/or the images in our head about what women's legs should look like are not in sync. Buy new pants if you need more room to for that built up booty, and wear them with pride.

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 03, 2013
at 01:43 PM

Agreed. A woman with a muscular ass is sexy, don't let anyone tell you differently.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on July 03, 2013
at 11:44 AM

Amen .

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 03, 2013
at 09:05 PM

Sorry guys, I can see where she's coming from. You might find muscular women sexy but most of us shorties are pretty terrified of adding width. Taller girls carry it off better :(

3
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on July 03, 2013
at 12:29 PM

Muscular thighs on a woman can be attractive and healthy. I would Not change things up, maybe you just had chicken legs before?

2
8d3cb0be5f31c75a05f853cb3b5c245a

(1601)

on July 03, 2013
at 01:09 PM

Someone wrote in to Robb Wolf for his podcast about how his wife was an actress and needed to be skinnier. Apparently his wife was in great shape but needed that Hollywood skinny look/shape and to be less bulky. Robb Wolf said, "Oh that's easy. less protein and lots of running." You're welcome to try it to slim down some. But I think it's difficult because balancing hunger and appetite is different for every person.

Perhaps - check out the pictures of the women on Leangains? - they are great although aspirational in my opinion. Carrie, in particular - a 105 lb girl deadlifting 200 lbs (or more) who was very tiny, and there's some other results pictures on freetheanimal leangains posts, etc. around the web. it's proof that you can be strong and not bulky...it's one system of many. You could try hiring Martin? or some other trainer that uses his system?

I personally lift because I think it's fun, and it's better for you on so many counts - good for your brain, helps you sleep better, increasing bone mineral density, slows or prevents osteoporosis, raises your metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass - letting you eat more food to maintain your weight which help you be healthier/better nourished and therefore less likely to have to worry about your weight.

My mom had a Hollywood shape for many many years, and still does now at almost 60 (I would say chicken legs, to be honest and unhealthily skinny) but she has osteopenia...

So, there are the two ends of the spectrum - awesome muscles and health giving way to more awesome muscles and health in older age........to too skinny and restrictive of food leading perhaps to weakened bones or osteopenia.

Just try some self-experiments and be safe about it but try not to lose your strength. It's hard to build that up and it would be a shame to lose it. Or worse, what if your less muscular legs then turned into cellulite? (most women do, so it's not the end of the world, but I'd rather have awesome thigh muscles and butt muscles eating paleo and lifting than be less bulky) I'm jealous! embrace what you've got!

2
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on July 03, 2013
at 11:50 AM

You could try heavier weights, but lower reps? I bulk easily and I'm short (5-1) so it doesn't look good and I do 3 sets of 5 reps, and it doesn't make me gain that much

Eb5ad630bb366c5f7dcf656810aa3f95

(506)

on July 03, 2013
at 04:43 PM

My wife lifts HEAVY and has remained very slim, just strong!

1
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on July 03, 2013
at 03:57 PM

This might be useful:

Don't Want to Become Bulky, Just Toned & Strong? Look No Further! A Basic Weight Lifting Routine, Time & Consistency Let's You Achieve Both Without Eating Cotton Balls.

http://suppversity.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/dont-want-to-become-bulky-just-toned.html

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