I had the same conversation with a woman on Saturday that I tend to have with at least 25% of every woman who starts working out with me or who takes one of my classes.
“I think I might,” (choose one): “stop/ease up/workout less/take a break from weight lifting/bootcamp/crossfit/strength training because I’m starting to get bigger. I don’t like getting bigger/the way my clothes are feeling.”
I can’t believe that I haven’t actually written about this before because I tend to have this pep talk a LOT.
You ARE Getting Bigger and there are a few reasons why.
Women with little to no muscle will typically increase their muscularity rather quickly. I’m not talking about “I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder,” muscle; I’m talking about the normal amount of muscle every woman NEEDS to age well and stay healthy throughout life.
According to Zatsiorsky and Kreamer in Science and Practice of Strength Training, women need to train with heavy weights not only to strengthen the muscles but also to cause positive adaptations in the bones and connective tissues. –via www.crossfittt.com
The thing is, a lot of women get freaked out when they start lifting weights (especially when lifting weights is NEW) because they start to build muscle before they lose the fat surrounding the muscle. When a woman notices herself get bigger, typically the first thing she does is STOP whatever she thinks is making her bigger.
I know a lot of women who have stopped working out because they think they’re getting bigger.
The reality is this: it’s REALLY hard for women to get big and bulky without doing hormonal treatments to be more anabolic. Women who lift get smaller. What’s happening, and why women tend to freak out after a few weeks of lifting, is that the body is in a state of transition. Most women will in fact gain weight after they start lifting–maybe 5-10 lbs. They’re building muscle and that’s awesome! And really, do I have to say, muscle weighs more than fat?!
So what happens NEXT–if you are patient–is that same muscle will start burning double the fat! It’s not uncommon to gain 10 pounds and then lose 30! Every women who starts lifting needs to give her body time to transition from fat storing to fat burning. Once you’ve got some muscle on that bod, the fat will start melting off–especially if the diet is even halfway decent.
STICK WITH LIFTING!
If there’s one piece of advice that I’ve neglected to give, or wish I could tell people who have quit, it’s this: give your body time to adjust. Yes, you might gain a little weight after a few weeks, but in a few more weeks, consistent effort in the gym will give you the results you’re really looking for–that smaller, stronger, toned-looking body you’re after. So don’t give up!
Are there exceptions?
Sure. There’s always an exception. I’m writing this for the average woman. I’m not writing to the woman who is out to compete, whose goal is to build mass, or to the girl who spends more time squatting than she does on anything else in life…cough, cough, wink. For the average woman who just wants to get stronger, look toned, lose weight, and feel as phenomenal as she already is, this is all you need to know. Lift weights, and be the spectacular YOU that you always wanted.
Attention: we have received several questions stemming from this article about how to properly train and how to fix a slow metabolism. Click here for our latest article on how to fix a slow metabolism and find details on how to get our free 12 week training programs designed specifically to build muscle, lower fat, and not damage your metabolism.
Also: As we have talked with more and more women that have experienced getting bigger before smaller, we have learned some other potential reasons for slow progress. Click here for Part II of Why You Might Be Getting Bigger and Not Smaller!
I bet you want to lift some weights now, don’t you?! Here’s your workout for tomorrow–throw some weight around and get a fantastic sweat going!
Tuesday’s Strong Figure Conditioning Workout:
Three Rounds for Time:
- 400 meter row (or run)
- 21 Kettlebell Swings (American or Russian style–go heavy, with GREAT form of course!)
- 12 Push-ups
If you don’t have equipment or if your space is limited, sub 40 burpees for the row/run, 21 squats (hold something heavy that you have in the house), and 12 push-ups. If your shoulders are too tired from the burpees, (in which case your chest should hit the ground with every burpee performed) you can sub out sit-ups or hollow rocks.
And if you are doing push-ups but you’re still working on push-up form, try negatives! Start in a plank position on your toes and hands, and lower yourself to the ground slowly. You can use your knees to push back up to start, but always start the negative on your toes! Build that upper body muscle!!!!
Editor’s UPDATE: There are some REALLY good questions and comments at the bottom of this post. If you’re interested in more info or you find yourself relating to these words, keep reading! It only gets better!
Have you had this same experience–getting bigger before getting smaller? Please share with us in the comments below about your experience and help other women stay positive and motivated!
PS: If you like this article, you’ll love this post: Why Under-Eating is Making You Gain Weight
New comments on this post are no longer being accepted due to the fact spammers seem to target older popular posts. However, we really want to help people who still need help. The comments below have some incredibly valuable information. If you still need help, feel free to contact us or refer to our nutrition coaching page!