Why Lifting Weights Doesn’t Necessarily Lead to Bulking

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the comment, “When I start lifting leg weights, my jeans start to feel tighter.”

Rest assured, lifting weights won’t lead to excessive muscle bulk, unless you go out of your way to make that happen.

Most of us have muscles that have adapted to being at a desk. When you start lifting weights, your muscles will almost immediately start to get stronger and more toned. As a result, if you’re lifting leg weights, it’s likely your jeans will start to feel a little more snug around the thigh area. But there’s no need to be alarmed—it just means that what you’re doing is working.

The change in muscle shape or tone happens in the early stages of lifting weights, but as you continue to work out, it plateaus. Your thighs won’t keep getting bigger and bigger, nor will you need to get larger jeans!

In essence, muscle is really good for you. It’s like a sponge for blood sugar. (It gives you somewhere to keep your next dessert without it going straight to your butt.) Muscle is also very good for preventing diabetes, protecting your joints and helping keep your bones strong. What’s more, muscle helps control your weight.

And remember: Whether you do high-repetition light weights or low-repetition heavy weights, research tells us that our muscles will get stronger and more toned. Whichever way you choose to lift weights, the benefits will be worth it.

Bryce Hastings is a leading New Zealand physiotherapist and fitness expert. As Les Mills’ head of research, he leads research into the most effective approaches to exercise and plays a pivotal role in structuring all LES MILLS workouts. Hastings’ passion for effective movement is born from spending 30 years in physiotherapy, where he saw “people getting their lives wrong” every day and felt like he was acting as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. By working in fitness, he gets to be the fence at the top.

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This post originally appeared on LesMills.com.

Photo credit: John Arano, Unsplash