The first time I have new female clients even touch a kettlebell or move a dumbbell of more than 10 pounds, I often see their eyes widen with apprehension. I know that one of their primal body image fears is being triggered, and that a predictable, yet hesitant, request is soon to follow:
"I just don't want to get...bulky."
Their timid statement reveals the trap that women are caught in—pressure to be fit combined with conflicting pressure to be small.
However, what many women don't realize is that it's really hard for most women to get bulky, even using heavy weights. For most women, a bigger, "hulkier" size is just not in the cards genetically or hormonally.
Dramatic increase in muscle size in both men and women results from several of these factors, usually occurring simultaneously. It can come from significant intake of calories, especially protein, carefully programmed, extremely heavy lifting routines, or supplements.
Unless you're doing some combination of those three factors, it is more likely that your lifting regimen will help you fit into your skinny jeans, not put you up a size.
So how can you use weights to get the lean, strong physique you're after? Here are some general principles to keep in mind: