I have been meaning to do a follow-up to my original article for some time now. The delay has simply been due to having other things on my plate I felt were more important. However, nothing lights a fire under me like people talking smack in forums about things they don’t seem to understand. I realize I create polar reactions in people, and honestly, I find that to be an important trait and am fine with it. For your sake though, you might want to think twice about skimming and actually read what I write, ask questions if needed, and wait to get up in arms (if required). My point is, even if you don’t like the work or don’t like me, at least get the information correct.
I get hundreds of incoming links of people landing on my collective sites everyday. I still get 400-500 people coming to my old site daily. So between all my sites I average 4,000+ individual visitors per day. There is a percentage of regulars and the rest find their way to me through a link or an organic search. Meaning they type in something like “body fat pictures” and my blog post about Body Fat Pictures and Percentages pops up.
Every so often, I notice a high influx of traffic (I consider this to be over 200 visitors from one link) to a post. I can’t help but to look to see why I’m getting this traffic. Yesterday, a link came in from a popular fitness forum. It started off simple enough, a person posted the link for conversation about my article, “Defining Bulky,” and people replied with their opinions of what they think bulky is. Over the past year, I have randomly gotten links from forums, blogs, etc. about this specific article. It is interesting how the conversations go down depending on the particular forum. Generally, they are pissed at me if it’s in a training/fitness forum or it’s people who think that Jessica Biel or Angela Bassett are bulky. If it’s a beauty/make-up/”mommy and me” type forum, they always agree and are thankful “someone finally said it.” It’s interesting to say the least.
I want to discuss some things that seem to have been misunderstood. People jumped to conclusions based on the title of the post without reading it or asking for elaboration when most of it was covered in either the post or the comments. It amazes me how defensive people can get; if you want to really know how I feel, ask me.
The Selection/Survey Options
I answered this in the comments, so if you had read those or asked a question you would have seen it. Here is the response I gave as to why I took the poll I did.
I did other (smaller) surveys that showed fitness models and elite athletes and the response was overwhelming. They automatically thought that was too much. I do get the point about those being the only available options, but I also choose women that are very often talked about as looking too manly or carrying too much muscle.
There were also write in options and comments that were left. Overwhelmingly women wanted “tone, but with no noticeable definition or muscle.” They just don’t want their skin to jiggle, that is about as deep as it goes for most. I can also speak from working with actresses a lot recently, that it is a technique, it is not a easy one, and is not just based around genetics.
An additional note: You can’t accidentally achieve the body of a steroid-taking female, but you can accidentally achieve the arms shown below in the following section.
It Wasn’t About My Opinion, But If You Ask…
If you read the article you should notice I state, “What I consider bulky doesn’t matter.” It isn’t about me, it’s about what the client wants. It’s about opening up communication and making things easier for you to get what you want. The truth is any trainer who actually works with the general population, not just athletes, knows this is a constant area of conversation and concern. Articles like this jump-start the conversation and help define (in the best way possible) a base point of what bulky is or isn’t. If I wanted to just “stir the pot,” I assure you I wouldn’t have chosen this as a topic.
Who Cares Anyway?
Sorry, but nothing expresses insecurity more than how some men and women are about this topic. I could get into a big diatribe about gender roles, women not being objects, etc. The truth is you can look however you want to look within the realm of your own limitations. You can be fat, skinny, muscled, dominate, submissive, sweet, or a jerk. It’s all in your hands. The lifting girls sure are quick to call out the barbies, and that is some backward bulls**t if I ever heard it. Some women don’t give a damn about doing a squat and never will. More space and less wait time in the weight room ladies. Your happy does not have to be what makes other people happy. Hating on women who just want to do yoga and look like Jennifer Aniston is no better than what you are about to read in the next section.
Eye of the Beholder
Again, I don’t care, but you should know something. When the NY Post runs an article titled, “Are Madonna and Kate Working Out Together?” and the following are the comments, you need to understand the reality of the average person.
These are 100% real comments left referencing the picture above.
I bet they both bitch-slap their men with those strong arms. No wonder they can’t keep their men!
-The veins on Madonna’s arms and hands are the product of 20+ years of steroid abuse.
-No wonder John left her, she has more muscle than he does!
-HEY! Man arms, just what every women in America wants, to look like a dude in the mirror. Kate needs a NEW DO soooooooooooooooo badly. Bet she wishes she would have stayed insignificant like the rest of us huh?
-Its called growth hormone and is the rage with many stars and wannabe stars.
-Yah they have great arms.
If you wanna be held by a woman with manly arms.
No thanks, not for me.
I like my women to be female.
-I ALWAYS THOUGHT KATE WAS BUTCHY!
And you think my poll was skewed to favor what exactly? You don’t get it (when you are in it) and that is the problem. To make sure it’s understood, neither of them have any noticable amount of muscle, it’s just the lighting, position of their arms, and the fact that they have lower body fat levels. The point isn’t that they are bulky, the point is about the public’s perception.
When I was younger and first saw a picture of a women that looked like this I thought, “Nah, that isn’t my thing. It’s a bit too much.” And when I saw this I thought, “That’s some freaky stuff!”
I am pretty much the most open-minded person you will ever meet. I don’t care if you’re white, tan, gay, straight, fat, happy, or sad. The things I care about are loyalty, heart, intent, and a general good nature. If you have those things, you are all right by me. All your parts make up the unique snowflake you are. I have always had this attitude, but that didn’t mean I was used to seeing women that looked like that. It wasn’t a hate thing, but it was a unusual thing for me to see.
How did you feel the first time you saw a woman with noticeable muscle definition? Can you remember? What about the first time you saw an interracial couple? A woman in pants? Two men kissing? Did I go to far? For some people, women having muscle and looking strong makes them uncomfortable. In all societies, we like our gender roles and we are uncomfortable when they change.
I remember when I saw Angela Bassett beat the s**t out of Laurence Fishburne in the back of that limo in “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” And I thought to myself, “That is one of the baddest women I have ever seen.” I also thought, “Man are those arm jacked!” That was what my untrained, unadjusted eye saw. When I look at her arms now I think, “Hmm, she has a lower body fat and a nice (but small) amount of muscle.” She is still a bad ass.
A lot of you might have gone through a time when you felt a similar way to some of the people in the comments (hopefully, minus the blatant ignorance). The more you see defined and strong women, the more your eye adjusts and along with it your mind.
The Art of Flexing
A common argument I get is, “These women only look bulky because they are flexing.” I agree, to a degree. For the women who have extremely low body fat and a lower amount of muscle, it usually is only the flexing that is an issue.
If you don’t carry a pretty low level of body fat and you have a moderate amount of muscle in your arms, you just look thicker. When you take away the flexing, women go from being too muscled to being too fat. The moment you start adding lifting to your training program as a female, you are going to alter your look. In the upper arm, for example, when you start “stacking” the front and back of your arm, you can create a top-heavy look. If you don’t intend to get really, really lean (at a level most can’t maintain) you might not like the way it looks.
You can see an example of what I am talking about below. Even Jamie Eason (2) with a pretty low body fat level, still has larger upper arms. Most women do not want that type of arms. While you may look lean and built while flexing, it can look awkward in softer clothing like dresses. You have to keep the softer aesthetic that women want to create when wearing a dress in mind. The women in the first set of photos below are drug-free lifters. The women in the second set are popular actresses who are never accused of eating disorders.
It isn’t going to be a perfect comparison, but these photos show people with varying body fat levels and varying muscle tone.
Some People Are Always Going to Feel This Way
Being that the majority of the population is attracted to the opposite sex for reasons of physicality and emotionality, you have to realize this isn’t going to change for most people. All cultures have their own gender roles and traditional lifestyles. Visually and emotionally, we are used to seeing physical strength in men. Personally, I like the idea of women with physical strength, and I think women at higher body fat levels can look great too. It’s different for every person and in the end, it doesn’t matter what I think. The only thing that should matter is what you think.
If You Don’t Like It, Change It
If you are a trainer or a fitness enthusiast and are tired of women and men having these views, educate them. I hate to break it to you, but most women don’t like to pump iron. Most men don’t want to think about women pumping iron. The majority is ruling, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I can think of a lot of things the majority has been wrong about.
I know from my work that there are women who want to get stronger and want muscle, but didn’t do so because of what other people thought. If this is the case for you, that is a problem.
If you want to play Lara Croft or Sarah Conner in your world, then don’t think twice about lifting a dumbbell. You think Jessica Biel was badass in Stealth? Do you dig Michelle Rodriquez in Girlfight? Awesome, more power to you. If you want softness and “tone,” then you are going to have to be smart about how you lift. Notice I didn’t say you can’t lift. You just need to know how to do it the right way. I have my “no muscle” girls do heavy deadlifts just like the boys. I cover topics and issues like this in my Make My Body Hot audio download. You don’t have to be afraid of weights, but you do need to know how to use them if, and only if, you want to.
So, this is round two. What do you think? What do you want?
If you would like more on this topic, check out The Topics – Even More Bulky Truth on my membership site.
SarahAugust 11, 2010 at 3:12 am
Awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome. You always say the things other don’t say and your regular readers thank you for it.
Nancy CooleyAugust 11, 2010 at 6:36 am
Thanks for some perspective. What gets me is that Kate and Madonna (I’m pretty sure) don’t lift a single weight. I know Madonna’s routine is lots of cardio and power yoga. So her arms look that way because of low bodyfat and yoga/cardio, both of which are very acceptable for women and pushed in all the magazines. So the hating has nothing to do with some stereotype of a steriod pumped bodybuilder and more to do with insecure men and brainwashed women who see a muscle on a woman and go “no way” no matter where it can from.
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Yeah they are just victim of lighting and lower body fat levels.
LilyAugust 11, 2010 at 8:47 am
Grrr those comments make me so mad! I am not mad at you Leigh and I get what you are saying, but it still makes me mad how small minded people are and downright mean!
Amanda HelmsAugust 11, 2010 at 11:47 am
Wonderful follow-up. Thanks also for the reminder that “Your happy doesn’t have to be others'”–wonderful line, and excellent point that sometimes we just have to let others be as they are.
ThrasherAugust 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm
yay!! I am so happy you are bringing back this topic! Yay! I’m so happy you are bringing back this topic. I know for me, I have gone back and forth on how I want to look, and the biggest mental block I had to face was my own. I had to decide, for myself, what Do I Really Want? (totally stole this from Leigh btw) and what I want is a low bodyfat, less muscly arm look, but I also don’t want to look like you can break my arm by snapping it in half..sort of an in between. When I get my bodyfat down to a pretty normal range, I feel great, and I fit into the clothes I love. But I had to get the fat down in order to do it, and yet I still was able to be strong enough to do my own pullups – it was ideal for me, and I was happy. I’m working to get back there, and then I might decide to change it again and go further down in size. But I love that these is even being discussed by a woman, because it does cause such intense, polor reactions. LOVE the discussion!
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm
Yeah I don’t think you will ever see me promote heroin sheik, there is the middle ground.
RGAugust 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm
What about health? It’s weird to look at movies from the 70’s when everyone was just smaller. Smaller bones, less muscle on both men and women. I would think that longevity would be higher for more muscle and bone mass up to some point. Since we start to lose both in our 30’s, the higher we start and the more we retain, the better, right?
I understand that you’re giving us actual negative comments, but most men in real life aren’t focussed on makeup, jewelry, dresses, shoes, and I suspect that in a bare-sleeved dress my biceps aren’t where their eyes go when I’m not looking. Most men claim that women do all this for each other, not them. If pushups will make my rack bigger but give me bigger arms, I think they’ll take it. Are there studies on the distinction between what people say they’re attracted to and what they actually date? Is physical attraction the chief component and do we tend to date the “10”s in our view or those most like ourselves? Don’t things like energy, creativity, personal happiness matter far more? And aren’t these all benefits of being in good shape?
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm
RE: Health – I think based on research, while we don’t have a definitive answer, better health is going to be gauged in more of what you do and what you eat, versus the actual muscle. Meaning that taking part in challenging weight barring or bodyweight exercises, eating a balanced diet, and keeping active in general is going to be biggest markers. With those things you should also avoid atrophy as we age.
If you look at someone like Gwyneth Paltrow, diet dysfunction and lack of weight challenge might have played a serious role in her early diagnosis with osteopenia (thought to be a precursor to osteoporosis).
Yes, and it is more physically and visually driven by men. Men operate on more of a visual sensory than women. Things have been built up the way they are due to evolutionary and environment based social activity. The women who provide the best look for childbearing are going to always be at the lead of the pack.
It’s both. Classically we are going to roam with our corresponding numbers if you will. What we identify with, we will always try to date within that range. For example, a guy who identifies himself as a 5 in his mind might daydream about a 10, but would rarely attempt to date one. Generally they are going to try to date 6-7’s (through their perception). You will rarely find guys who are dating partners deemed “lower” in a rating scale. Where as women commonly date all over the scale range and are more emotional (per hard research/what is classic).
Of course these things are in important. What we are discussing though is the majority. I can introduce you to really good hearted guys who care see about more than looks. But, the looks issue is still an issue for them and will always be more for the guys than it is for women based upon their physical makeup.
You also have to remember what rings the bell for one guy is different from another. If a guy was raised in an environment where is was around tougher girls with strong attitudes, he is likely to gravitate towards that for the rest of his life because it is what is most familiar. He is more likely to pick a girl with a tougher physical character.
If you have a guy who grew up around nothing but very thin/frailer women who love to shop and don’t like to sweat, on average he is going to desire women more of that appearance.
JeffAugust 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm
Leigh, the problem I see is that most women don’t challenge themselves enough and I bet that your deadlifting “no muscle” girls still lift a decent amount of weight for a decent amount of reps/sets per week compared to the “norm” of a lazy, non-exercising American.
Most trainers are railing against the fact that women are using “I am afraid of getting bulky” as an excuse to do NO (ZERO, ZILCH, NADA) weight lifting and that is wrong.. Weight lifting has so many positive HEALTH effects that the stereotype NEEDS to be broken. You can always scale and train for maintenance once you get “too bulky” and that is likely to happen ONLY if one lifts consistently. Most women don’t. It’s a problem that just doesn’t happen often.
Additionally, the “too bulky” look is often a result of too much bodyfat. I bet most women would like their arms if they kept the same amount of muscle they have now and lost the fat over it…weight training would help preserve that muscle…in addition to strengthening bones, improving nutrient partitioning, improving athletic performance, improving daily quality of life, etc etc.
I see your point, though. But how often – REALLY – do women have this problem? I really, really really doubt that most women who don’t like their arms are women that have them because they have been lifting weights too much. It’s likely because they’re carrying too much bodyfat.
If your clients are truly coming to you and saying “Leigh, I just have too many muscles and I just want to get smaller! Help me!” than you certainly have a different client base than I do. Although, I must admit that that population DOES exist, and, while small, must be addressed as having legitimate concerns that require a different approach. Fine. I just bet that this is an extremely small population, and that many women are prone to mis-classify themselves are being a part of it, and subsequently spend too much time doing stupid workouts and following stupid diets.
JamesAugust 11, 2010 at 12:45 pm
Leigh did discuss the body fat issues and all the reasons women think they are bulky, but are not in her pervious post.
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm
One of my recent models (fashion)5’9 and 110 pound was deadlifting 140 pounds in wide stance before we parted. Like I said, it’s about what you do that matters.
While I agree, you can get health benefits from non-external weight bearing exercise. I don’t think weights have to be in your program, but I think progression does. Most women aren’t taught how to really challenge themselves with bodyweight conditioning. We also have the option now of suspension work and that ups the ante even more. In my ideal program I would have a mixture of both, but I don’t think you have to have weights in order to be healthy.
I discussed that in the previous article, among other things that lead to the illusion of bulky.
I have a large range of clients. This isn’t just about my clients, this is about what is said to me at dinner parties, in waiting rooms, and what I read in the magazines. If you don’t think this is a concern for women, you aren’t talking to enough of them are they are nervous to relay it to you.
JeffAugust 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm
Leigh – thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I read your first article, but it was a long time ago and I do see you addressed some of the issues there, my bad.
Thanks also for the perspective on what clients tell you vs tell me. I am sure I get a very different “line” from my female clients because I am A) male and b) a coach in a strength and conditioning facility with a heavy strength/sports emphasis. Good to hear the “other” side and I’ll definitely be aware of this in future conversations.
Love your blog.
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm
I am glad you posted/asked questions. I wish more people would do that than assume I meant something I didn’t. And you know, you find less problems with this when you do work in a S&C facility because there are A) normally no machines and B) lack of bodybuilding style templates. Women don’t get big arms from prowler pushes, med ball slams or farmer walks 😉
So yeah, I doubt that fits at all in your target and where you work. For those that find themselves going or working in commercial gyms, its a whole different ball game.
JeffAugust 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm
One more thing re Madonna & Kate: one snapshot in time reflecting either of their lighting, angle of camera, dress, makeup, hairstyle, tan (or lack thereof), body angle, body position, hydration levels, glycogen levels (not to mention Photoshop) can have a huge cumulative effect on their appearance. People should be mindful of this when evaluating physiques.
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Again, discussed in the article here and in previous article. This isn’t about photography and lighting (though it has been discussed before). This is about the mental perception and sociology of the situation we are dealing with. Like I said in the post, if you don’t like it, change it. As a trainer you can open up the conversation more with your female clients and talk about what they want and what they don’t want. Why you are doing what you are doing, etc.
JanisAugust 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm
I think the people in the comments need to read BOTH of your articles right Leigh 😉
Great follow up, love these conversations.
LoriAugust 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm
I’m a gal who thinks the muscular look on women is very sexy. That said, when I say “muscular” I’m referring more to the Jamie Eason and Jillian Michaels and not the female body builder look. I think that’s a bit extreme and not feminine. I think folks like Jamie and Jillian still look very feminine with their physique. I’d love arms like theirs, but unfortunately at the moment mine look more “bulky” because I still have a higher body fat percentage.
Of course I’m also writing from the perspective of a married gal, so I’m not all that concerned about what other guys like or don’t like. My husband seems to be just fine with it. 🙂
JasoxAugust 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm
You obviously don’t know anything because those women are on drugs. Put not steriod using female lifters and you wont see that. I can see a woman squat 220 and not look “bulky.”
Leigh PeeleAugust 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm
As I stated in the article, drug-free. Even if they weren’t drug-free, that type of look can be achieved without drugs.
KarenAugust 12, 2010 at 2:34 am
Another great article Leigh. Congratulations on the viewer too! It must be crazy to have that type of audience. How much do you get to this one blog?
RGAugust 12, 2010 at 8:58 am
Obviously as with anything, there are conflicting studies out there, and I’m not “in the profession” so I’ve probably focussed on the studies that fit with my own personal experience and culture. Specific sexual assets varies by cultures, some of which prefer more bodyfat and in specific locations, versus small feet or long necks etc. Physical fitness in the form of energy, flexibility, fluid movement is valued across cultures. If you like to shop and not sweat, you have to be able to move across the shopping mall and reach for things.
I wonder if our experiential disconnect is because fitness is a “marker of youth” so if you’re asking 20-year-olds, they won’t mention it because the women who are inflexible or slow are few and far between. Personal experience says that a 35-year-old who does cartwheels and runs a few miles without getting winded gets noticed by more than nice, personality-driven guys; the fit male doesn’t seem to give a rat’s behind about my bulky arms. They appreciate it as they’re watching me do it, they appreciate the radiant skin and lingering hormones after I’ve worked out. If I thought that bigger arms would get me less male attention, I’d be doing bicep curls every day.
MeghanAugust 12, 2010 at 10:00 am
Great article,as always. I guess im a bit out of the loop as to why this came up again,and so PASSIONATELY 😉
In any case, i was just wondering if you could make an eyeball guesstimate at Jamie Eason’s BF percentage in the picture you posted above?
I love love LOVE her look….. kind of consider her body as my personal “ideal” (might have a bit of a girl crush, too) 🙂
And i know you have covered this before (in the make my body hot series) but i just wanted to throw out a reminder to some out there, that many women end up with the so-called “bulkier” look as a result of just simply shedding alot of body fat! Especially for those who may have been carrying around ecess wieght for an extended period of their lives….. Once they chip away the fat, a more muscular look can be revealed, whether that look was the origianl intent of the dieter or not! This was definitely the case for me……turns out, as an athlete, i actually lket hat i LOOK like an athlete now.
Thanks for all of your great wisdom
KimAugust 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Good points. It is really about looking at the look your client wants, regardless of what you think. In a Waterbury article it talks about with most women don’t need to train with heavy bicep curls and side bends – basically there are certain areas most women don’t want to add muscle. I think there is truth to this. Again this goes with what Leigh says as everyone is different and train for your goals but I think even in women’s fitness magazines a lot of the programs don’t take this into consideration.
If most of my girlfriends ended up with bulging biceps and tree trunk quads they would not be happy!
Expanding this series is of interest – especially with how you would go about things.
ValerieAugust 12, 2010 at 7:05 pm
Thank you for posting this information again! I like you were super clear (as I like to be) that there is no judgement. If you like to be ripped or athletic looking, that’s great. If you want it be “toned” that’s great. I do believe all women benefit from weight lifting but not all programs will help them achieve their goals. When a prospective client says to a trainer “I don’t want to get to muscular”, I find it disrespectful for the trainer to simply say “that can’t happen”. Instead, this is the opportunity to find out what that might mean to the client and what is her goal. Goals have a way of changing once you get started. Let the client feel heard. The most important thing is to feel fit and strong. That comes in many different shape and sizes.
Thank you for being so articulate!
MaryAugust 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm
Speaking only from personal experience, I gain muscle quickly. The only time I “Bulk Up” is when I’m lifting and don’t watch my diet, or am over weight, then I’m huge. I personally like to see women with strong arms…they look lean, not bulky.
MaryAugust 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm
I also agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyones attraction factor is different . Another reason to focus on how it is you want to look, and not what others tell you to be.
Great articles, Leigh.
StaceyAugust 15, 2010 at 6:51 pm
“How did you feel the first time you saw a women with noticeable muscle definition?” It was Cory Everson, about 20 years ago and I thought I wanted to be like her! However I never had much of an appetite and I was intimidated in the weight room in high school. Tried every few years to bodybuild and last year I finally started going to the gym on a regular basis, lifted as hard as I could and I ate as much as I possibly could and I finally put on some weight….a tiny bit of muscle, lots of FAT, which was how I found Leigh’s site & books – wondering what went wrong when I thought it would be so EASY if only I ate a lot and went to the gym! Wish I’d read your article on realistic muscle gain before I started… Anyways, can’t imagine what people will ever say if I ever figure it out and *do* some muscles, when I was thin (105, 5’7″) everyone called me anorexic, even though I wasn’t. I don’t think a woman can “win” so I guess you have to go for what you want to look like! Sadly getting bulky has not been as easy as I hoped! Funny how many women fear it!
ZachAugust 24, 2010 at 3:23 pm
I completely agree with you 100% that every women has the right to train however they want in order to look however they want, and they should train how they want to look, not how others want them to look. However, from a guys perspective, I must say that girls who don’t have any muscle look pretty disgusting. If all a girl wants to do is have a low body fat, they might as well become anorexic, as anorexics have even less body fat than professional figure models. the reason professional figure models, like jaime eason and pauline nordin, look ridiculously good is because of the muscle they have. if a girl wants to look attractive or have a powerful, well-functioning body, they should care more about building muscle. Here’s a great post by Tony Gentilcore summarizing how men feel about women and muscles:
Here’s a perfect quote from the post that I think every non-testosterone-deprived guy would agree with:
“At a time when women are constantly told by mainstream media and douchehole celebrity trainers that lifting anything heavier than three lbs will turn them into Chewbacca, and that eating celery sticks is a treat, this is definitely a breath of fresh air. I mean, I’m so sick and tired of seeing models with no ass, no muscle, and no shape being touted as the ideal “look” for women to aspire for. Why not just get a 2×4 and put a dress on it?”
What should a fit woman look like? | How I Lost 20lbsSeptember 9, 2010 at 2:27 pm
[…] Bulky Muscles and Women […]
EmilySeptember 24, 2010 at 3:44 pm
Thank you Zach for bringing Tony into the mix! I just finished reading his blog about this very same subject. Thank you Leigh. My husband sent this link to me as I was just ranting last night about the word bulky and how it is thrown around way too much for me. I realized that when women think bulky, they really are thinking muscle. But muscle is beautiful. I have completely transformed my body in two years just from changing my eating habits, lifting weight, limiting my cardio to 1-2 week and focus on the positive…me. I have gotten more compliments this past year than I ever have…and my fitness class that I teach at my dance studio is packed. The women I work with want to be healthy and want to look good. When did this start for me? When I saw Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. I fell in love. 20 years later, I have those arms. can do chin-ups. I can do a pull up..or 2 or 3. I want to be strong. My husband loves the way I look and the men in the weight room respect what I do to achieve the healthy body I have. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of your posts. Keep up the good work!
The Best of 2010 | Leigh PeeleDecember 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm
[…] 7. Bulky Muscles and Women (Part Deux) […]
What's Up, Leigh? | Leigh PeeleFebruary 11, 2011 at 5:35 am
[…] “The Big Article” will focus on the weeks main article. The “big poppa” of articles if you will. This could range in topics from fat loss to supplements. It’s topic will always vary, but the important thing to note is the content level will be extensive. Previous examples are articles like – Body Fat Percentage By Pictures, WTF Can I Eat?, Does Age Hinder Weight Loss and Transformation?, and Defining Bulky (1 & 2). […]
Bulky Muscles and Female Training | Leigh PeeleApril 13, 2011 at 1:59 am
[…] To read my follow up article “Bulky Muscles and Women – Part Deux” click here Share […]
RaycaJune 8, 2011 at 4:54 pm
I think you’re wrong about men not liking to think about women pumping iron. I’ve been lifting weights (better than most men I’ve been around) for over 20 years and I can tell you they have stopped their workouts just to watch me “perform”. I’m 58 years old now and they are still watching and quickly looking away when I catch them. I guess they probably are thinking I’m a “bad ass.” …lol Thanks for your post(s) though. I’m trying to understand why I’m so soft now instead of hard. I was thinking it was because I’ve gone vegan but I think I’m carrying much more fat. BTW, I LOVE the bigger, bulkier look on me. In a dress or shorts or whatever. I don’t have any problem being a girly-girl with muscles and like I said, I still turn heads at 58 years old. I’ve got style….
Bulky Women | Vita BrevisMarch 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm
[…] Bulky Muscles and Women – Part Deux […]
AlisaMay 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm
I am so glad someone is finally realising that the perception of bulky is subjective! I think everyone has a right to look how they want and to be honest I am a woman who wants to have the “no muscle” slim arms, nothing wrong with that, nor do I think there’s anything wrong with people who want more defined arms. I hate it when trainers say I won’t get bulky because they don’t even know what I think bulky means!
If you have any advice on the general type of exercises I should be doing it would be great. Currently I rely on my diet (no sugar, low processed food, kind of paleo but low fructose) Also I do some interval training spinning once a week.
BrynNovember 16, 2016 at 10:38 pm
In the last week, I’ve been told by two different men in different circumstances that my arms looked “manly or like a man’s (yep, I’m a woman).” The first comment was said as a criticism, and at the gym, which makes me laugh. Shouldn’t men prepare themselves they may run into women who are toned/built at the gym? The second comment was more as a running commentary, the unfiltered type that spews from peoples’ mouths when they have no ability to sensor themselves and walk around the world entirely unaware that most of us only give appropriate comments air in the world.
I will admit these comments bother me. I am not lifting to get big or to appear “manly,” but rather lifting is a way to battle chronic depression. I literally give myself a break from horrible thoughts for two hours a day by loading up on weight that I can only lift if I focus all of my energy on the movement. This is my escape from incredible pain, and so I am not willing to stop…even if I offend the gender norms.
I really hope that anyone reading this will reconsider the interior reality of another over the judgmental stance that we all (hey – me included) jump to. To say my arms are “manly” is inaccurate. Both of the men who commented on my arms do not have as much definition as me, so perhaps their comments reflect more on how they feel about their own “manliness?”
When women are kept soft and low in musculature to allow the men in our world to feel strong there is something incredibly wrong with the definition of male identity. Not all men are strong, but that doesn’t make them bad or wrong or emasculate. It just makes gender roles more flexible, and it allows us all to be who we want to be and to live a life that is true to who we are as individuals despite the gender roles we’ve all been acculturated to believe.