Some people have avoided lifting weights, fearing it may make them look too big or bulky, when what they truly aspire for is a long and lean model-type look and not that of a bodybuilder.
The truth is, this apprehension is mostly unfounded when we take into account how difficult it is to actually grow muscle. So no, picking up a dumbbell and lifting some weights here and there with moderate resistance will not make us look like the Incredible Hulk in no time.
The male and female bodybuilders we see in magazines with ripped, bulky physiques with veins popping out have achieved that physique through a rigorous process of meal planning and preparation, intense gym sessions and proper supplementation that involves months and even years of well-planned execution.
Muscle growth is a form of adaptation. When we repeatedly overload muscle fibers by lifting weights, they are forced to grow and adapt in order for them to be able to respond to the imposed workload. Once they get used to a certain exercise, it is possible for muscle growth to hit a plateau. This is when lifting heavier weights, or performing different exercises must be done, if we want to bust out of a plateau and continue to stimulate growth.
Oftentimes I hear of women who refuse to lift weights, thinking that doing so will give them a masculine physique, or have them looking like a man. Again, this is a major misconception. In order for women to grow the kind of muscle that would be considered—for lack of a better word—manly, they would have to go on a cumbersome program that takes time, dedication and commitment. Add to this, women naturally have less testosterone—a hormone responsible for muscle-mass growth—than men.
Growing too much muscle is something we must not fear. Sure, systematically lifting weights a few times a week will firm and tone our muscles. But to achieve that rip-roaringly large look is something that will not come easy. Those leisurely gym sessions will hardly result in us bulking up too much.
So go ahead, pick-up those weights and try incorporating weightlifting into your fitness programs. The benefits are endless: stronger bones, better sports performance and increased functional strength, to name a few.
Personally, I get a different kind of high when lifting weights. The so-called muscle pump that occurs when our muscles are swollen from the tension and blood flow resulting from moving heavy stuff around is something I would recommend for everyone to experience.