Here we are again, back at Kenya’s Zumba class. Today she’s wearing her electric blue leggings, neon yellow tank top, and her colorful mismatched crew socks. Far away from the weight room, you feel safe and comfortable in this disco lit room, filled with Latin music blasting from the speakers. Don’t get me wrong. Zumba is epic! Super fun, tons of energy, and perfect cardio. Same with any sort of cardiovascular activities. However, think about it. Is the reason you’re not coming face to face with the squat rack and barbells, because you’re afraid of the rumor you always hear about bulking up?

If I can do anything with these articles, it would be to demolish and destroy the complete myth that people have regarding strength training and bulking up. Explaining and understanding the science and knowledge behind bulking, can take a lot more than just a few paragraphs. There’s a lot of information that covers this topic, but I will definitely try my hardest to explain it in the simplest way possible.

I’ll start nice and simple. Listen very, very closely. No matter how many pounds, reps, or rounds you perform, strength and resistance training will not make you look like a body builder. Lifting weights alone, will not cause your body to bulk up. The actual term “bulking,” is when we consume excess calories to build muscle. People have to intake additional protein and carbohydrates, about 20-30% MORE than what our bodies normally needs, for 4-6 months, in order to bulk. This bulking phase is a very specific time in our exercise cycle. We gain weight by calorie consumption, and only then will the resistance training cause any sort of bulking. The muscle growth in this stage, has nothing to do with the weights we lift. We can lift anywhere from 5-100 pound weights, without ever bulking up our bodies. The nutrition factor is the main reason people get bulky when lifting. When people are super focused on this stage in their fitness regimen, they follow an intense food program that examines exactly what their calorie intake is, and only then, will their weight lifting cause them to bulk. When the bulking phase is over, and the muscle growth is where they want it to be, they go into a cutting stage to lose the fat that they put on prior.

Two of the most common terms associated with weight lifting, is toning up and bulking up. They should not be used interchangeably, because they each have different meanings. To tone, means to reduce the appearance of body fat by tightening up the muscles and giving them shape. As discussed, bulking up, is increasing muscle mass by consuming the added calories. Most of my clients aim for toning and defining, and they definitely succeed.

Let me explain one thing. Muscle building and bulking are two different things. You can build muscle without bulking up and get the muscle definition you always wanted. Building muscle should be your main focus as it increases your metabolism and makes losing fat easier.

The next time you work out with weights either alone or with your trainer, please please PLEASE be mindful as to what amazing and positive results it has on your body. Powered Up has explained over the last few weeks how strength training will tone and increase your muscles, causing your body to fight off fat even at rest. Stop being afraid of looking like a sumo wrestler due to old, fake knowledge, and start seeing all the healthy benefits and outcomes.

Regards to Kenya!


Peace out


Shana Katz is a personal trainer and founder of Sweat with Shana. To contact her, e-mail or follow her on instagram @sweatwith.shana.


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