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.
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.