Are you a CrossFit-curious lady who hasn’t given the sport a try because you’re afraid you’ll bulk up? I get it! As a former distance runner, one of my biggest questions before joining the gym was, “Will CrossFit make me bulky?”
In fact, this is one of the most common questions I get from women who come in for meet and greets.
The reality is, it takes consistent, dedicated effort for women to put on large amounts of muscle. Today, I hope to ease any concerns that CrossFit makes women bulky.
In simplest terms, putting on muscle requires:
- regular resistance training (ideally with heavy weights).
- adequate calorie and protein intake (in some cases, up to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight per day, which is difficult to get in without some serious planning and/or supplements).
- adequate recovery between workouts.
In addition to these modifiable behaviors, a lot of muscle-building potential comes down to hormones.
Women are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to muscle growth because we have less testosterone than men. Higher testosterone levels generally lead to higher levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps build muscle.
In other words, we typically have to work a little harder to put on muscle than the guys.
Muscle Doesn’t Magically Appear Overnight
Here’s the thing. Even if you have all the conditions in place to put on muscle, it takes time. You’re not going to suddenly wake up one morning completely shredded, but please send the muscle fairy to my house if that miraculously happens.
A realistic rate of muscle growth for a woman who’s really focused on diet, training, and recovery is up to one pound per month (usually less than that). Keep in mind that this muscle gain can also be accompanied by fat loss, so you may not even see any increase in scale weight.
There is absolutely zero risk of trying CrossFit if you’re worried you’ll bulk up. If you feel like you’re gaining more muscle than you’d like (and I’ve actually never had a female client complain of this, including ones who train really hard), then we’ll simply modify the workouts to suit your goals!
Standards of Beauty
CrossFit not only transformed my body, it transformed my mindset.
I’ve become so much less worried about the number on the scale, and much more focused on the progress I’m seeing with my numbers in the gym. And friend, I can’t even begin to describe how liberating that’s been for me.
This transformation may or may not happen for you, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having different goals for your body. We want you to be happy and feel confident!
However (and I say this gently), to worry that you’ll immediately bulk up discredits the hard work of the beautiful, muscular women who’ve worked really hard to pack on that muscle. Most of these women look the way they do because they want to look that way, or because they need lots of muscle for fitness-related hobbies or careers.
The Case for Building Muscle
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you by now that you’re not going to immediately morph into a She-Hulk during your first weeks and months of CrossFit.
However, we’re a whole health gym, and I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t point out some of the awesome health benefits of putting on muscle.
Having more muscle lowers your risk of injury, disability, and chronic disease, especially with age. Your metabolic rate also increases as you add muscle, meaning you burn more calories at rest.
“Will CrossFit Make Me Bulky?”
In summary, it’s highly unlikely that CrossFit will make you bulky. Adding significant muscle requires a lot of dedication to your training and your diet, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’re still concerned, come visit the gym and chat with some of our female athletes! Though we come from different backgrounds and have different goals, we will all attest to the fact that CrossFit has improved our physical health, self-esteem, and self-confidence.