5 Reasons Why You THINK You’re Bulking Up From Strength Training

Oh I know! The conversation regarding women and bulk is as confusing as whether or not coffee is good for you! Is it? Or is it not!?

It’s a hot debate and I am here to put you at peace!

First let’s define this word “bulk.”

  1. You will never be able to build large muscles like a man’s. Period. You don’t have the hormones to support it unless you take anabolic steroids.
  2. In order to inspire large muscles (like those often seen on the competitive Crossfit ladies), you must put in consistent, high level, hard effort for at least 6 months. Muscles like this will never happen by mistake.

Beyond these two ideas, it is not “bulk” that we are talking about! It is something else entirely.

Check out this week’s video below to learn more about this concept. I talk through some of the reasons why you might believe that you are bulking up from lifting, when in fact you are not.

This is an important conversation because strength training is SOOOO valuable and important to your overall health and wellness! I get so sad when I hear a woman say that she had a bad experience in the weight room and stopped lifting because she didn’t like the bulk that came a few weeks into her training program.

You are now part of Women’s Strength Nation! Don’t let this sad tale happen to you!

 So what exactly does “consistent” mean? In order to give your body enough of a stimulus to create changes, you need to be strength training at least two times every week. You’ll want to choose 2 different exercises for each of your largest muscles groups: Legs, Back, Chest, Shoulders and complete a total of 6-9 sets for each exercise. Then, stick with it for at least 8 weeks!

 For example, each workout should include:

Leg exercise #1         3 sets

Leg exercise #2         3 sets

Leg exercise #3         sets

Back exercise #1       3 sets

Back exercise #2       3 sets

Chest exercise #1      3 sets

and so on…

 PS! I reserve exclusive content for the Women’s Strength Nation email update. If you want to receive more info that isn’t shared here on the blog, use the sign up form at the top right of this page to enter your first name and email address. Then stay tuned every other week for insights on becoming stronger inside and out.


Women’s Strength Nation is committed to improving the ratio of women to men strength training around the world. You can Join the Movement by sharing your thoughts and questions below. Your thoughts and ideas may help another woman’s journey. Please join the conversation and leave a comment below!

And lastly,

Today’s #Strengthspo

“Women are inherently blessed with intuition, empathy, and wisdom. When physical strength is added, she becomes invincible.”

Stay strong, friend. 

8 replies
  1. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    Thanks Holly! A timely article as my body has been changing around a LOT in the last week, feel like plasticine in a sock the way my shape is changing! Good to know it will settle down and be stronger for it ?

    • Admin
      Admin says:

      Hi Meredith! Yes, in fact, it has probably already settled down by now! You’re doing so great! Can’t wait for your next update!

  2. keren
    keren says:

    Yeay Holly,
    GREAT VIDEO ! Thank you for the knowledge about the water shuffling into the muscles, explains a lot about my legs getting bigger after hard workouts, then a couple of days later they lean out…. its amazing to see that…and also makes me think maybe I’M TRAINING TOO HARD ! LOL I love workin out- training- oops and I love your videos and emails and support…very helpful always thank you, Keren

    • Admin
      Admin says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you so much for that feedback. I love being able to help and inspire women to be STRONG!
      Keep up the hard work!

      With love H.

  3. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Thank you for this! I’m an endomorph working to strengthen and lean out my body all over, especially my upper legs. I’m trying to figure out how many reps qualify as high repititions. Using your other rules/guidance about being able to do all but the last 2 reps with good form, I could then deduce what “light” weight is, but I’m unclear how many reps count as “high”.
    Thank you! Learning so much.

    • Admin
      Admin says:

      Hi Jessica,

      You’re so welcome, I’m here to help!
      If you are looking to build strength, I would suggest doing 12 reps with 3 to 4 sets.
      And as you have learned from my previous blogs, your last two reps should be HARD!
      Ex: with a squat 1st set 45lbs, 2nd set 55lbs, 3rd set 65lbs and so forth. You raise the weight with each set. You don’t want to the weight to be easy nor too hard. Remember last two reps should be hard.

  4. NE fitmom
    NE fitmom says:

    I bulk up very easily, I have to be very careful, it’s my genes. I have a tendency to get huge!! The minute I reduce my weights I’m back to a better look I like, lean and lithe but strong. So I just wanted to add that their are some of us out there that have to be very careful. You should see my muscles!! Ha Ha.


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