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Bulking up

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Old 01-12-2004, 08:34 PM   #1
here I go again...
 
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If I had a dollar for every article I've read saying that it is "physically impossible for women to get bulky" and another dollar for every time I've read these articles and started to assume that there must be something wrong with me... well, I'd have a lot of dollars. My legs are bulky , no two ways about it. I'm all about gaining muscle to burn more calories in a day, but I'm not getting any smaller, and its very discouraging. I've cut back on the leg machines, but want to have toned, pretty legs, so should I still do lighter weights? Is there any point/benefit to using light weights for your legs? My upper body is a different story... I am gaining muscle, but I feel stronger, not bigger. Is anybody else seeing results like these? Is there something different I should be doing? HELP !! And Thank You!

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Old 01-13-2004, 05:47 AM   #2
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Just think about who looks like what you are wanting to look like.... using that as a basis, how about considering running? Runners seem to have the kind of legs that you are talking about. How about alternating running and weight days? And I do agree with stopping the leg weight lifts.

Congratulations on your determination! (and what are you going to do with all that dough? )
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Old 01-13-2004, 06:17 AM   #3
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Hi AB! I read your post, but without knowing more details about you, I agree with Tig.

I do cardio 6 days a week and lift weights (forsaking the machines so I can work out at home). My calves began to get a look I did not want, so I stopped dileberate calve exercises with the weights, and only work my thighs. I think, and time will tell, my calves were getting that muscular look from doinng both running AND the deliberate calve work with the weights.

As for the rest of the body, indeed I am stronger, but I am also smaller at this weight, the 180's, then I was at the same weight 20 years ago. I now wear a size 15-16 and back then I wore a 18-20. It's really obvious in old photos how much smaller my butt is in comparison. One way to measure your success with weight training is your body fat %.

If you'd like some experienced advice, pose your questions to the Ladies Who Lift forum. No bulkheads there!

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Old 01-13-2004, 07:02 PM   #4
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lifting lighter weights will tone your legs aslong as you put in the yardage sets of 20 reps are great for shaping and toning they also build muscle stamina do the reps slowly with a good peak contraction to really define the shape
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Old 01-14-2004, 08:17 AM   #5
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AB ó one further thought to add to the great suggestions youíve gotten ó

If youíre building muscle without losing the fat on top of the muscle, youíre going to get bigger. The increased muscle mass will push the fat out and youíll certainly look bulkier. What you need to do then is lose some of the fat while gaining muscle. I donít know whether you want to lose fat or what your stats are, but if thatís the case, Iíd suggest adding in cardio to your weights. Running, like Tig suggested, is excellent, as are walking, biking, the elliptical and anything else that will get your pulse elevated and keep it there and get you burning calories.

Iím hesitant to say this, but my personal experience has been that building muscle has only made me smaller. Iím 135 pounds but wear sizes 2 and 4 due to my muscle mass (most people guess that I weigh about 115 pounds ). A pound of muscle is considerable smaller and denser than a pound of fat, so you really do want to lose fat and add muscle to get smaller, in my opinion.

I'd like to refer you to a previous thread in which some of this is discussed Why do some people just shrink?. In that thread, there's a picture comparing five pounds of fat and five pounds of muscle so you can see what I mean. Good luck and let us know how itís going!
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Old 01-14-2004, 10:44 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the advice, but I'm not sure you're quite understanding my specific problem. I do probably 3x the cardio that I do weights. I think its a family thing, my Dad is really muscular, and my sister is a cross country runner with big legs... and she's pretty lean, but we always compare "thunder thighs" (don't laugh)... and I really don't want to lose the muscle I have, I just don't want any more than I have in that particular area. I would just like to know if I need to keep doing lighter (for instance 120# instead of 190# on the leg press machines) weights to keep what I have, but not continue to add mass.
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Old 01-15-2004, 06:35 AM   #7
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AB -- thanks for the clarification! It sure does sound like a genetic thing, with your sister and dad having the same problem. If that's the case, I'd definitely agree that you want to go with low weights, high reps to keep from getting bigger. If you're like me, your legs will be the last place to lean out, but they should eventually as the fat comes off.

I lost my weight from the head down, which made me look like a bowling pin for the longest time! First I lost the multiple chins, then the chest disappeared, then my waist got much smaller than my butt (and no pants would fit) and so on. I'm still waiting on the fat calves!

Good luck!
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:47 AM   #8
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I have a wierd body type where I bulk up more doing lots of cardio than with weights. For about a month I was doing an hour of heavy cardio everyday and while my legs looked great, i outgrew all my pants. In your muscles there are different types of fibers--slow twitch, fast twitch and medium twitch. Depending on what type of activity your body is used to doing, you build these fibers up in different ratios. Slow twitch fibers are long and skinny, and they are the ones capable of the most endurance (ie long distance runners, who appear emaciated but can easily run dozens of miles). They are slow to relax and contract, but are capable of sustaining for a long time--like the muscles which, say, keep you upright all day long. Fast twitch muscle fibers are the ones capable of bursts of strength. They can contract quickly, but they fatigue quickly as well. These muscle fibers are responsible for activities like sprinting and weight-lifting, activities that require strength and speed but not for long periods of time. You will notice that body builders and sprinters are very bulky. Medium Twitch fibers are, you guessed it, in between. They are more endurant than fast twitch, but not quite as strong. These muscle fibers are activated by conditioning exercises--low weight, high rep, like Meg said. They are not bulky like fast twitch fibers. If you feel that you have a tendency to build up fast twitch fibers faster than other types, concentrate on endurance activities. Don't do intense cardio, because this will activate your fast twitch fibers (due to the intense bursts of energy it requires). Walking, jogging (no sprinting!), pushups, situps, pullups, you know the deal. But you're probably right when you think that you should stay away from the heavy weights. It's true that muscle burns more energy than fat--so we all want muscle--but heavy weight training, although the fastest way to build up muscle, may not be the best for everyone who wants to slim down.
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:38 PM   #9
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I read an article talking about body shapes and it says that if you tend to get larger on the bottom (classic pear shape) then you should do more reps with lighter weights at higher reps while switching from machine to machine without rest to keep your heart rate up. It also suggests doing interval type training during cardio to help increase fat burning amoung other good suggestions. I found the article quite interesting, maybe it will help you too. I read this from Muscle and Fitness Hers September 2003. The article is called "pearing down a pear shape". If you go to their website you may be able to find it there.
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:05 PM   #10
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ABakerChick-I feel your pain! My mom has big legs and so do I. I have just resolved myself to the fact that if they have to be big, big and muscular is better than big and fat. I have been going to the gym since I was 14 (off and on) In the past I would keep building up the weight as I went along and my legs were huge! but this time I keep the weights LIGHT and the reps high on my legs and I keep to the endurance cardio like Banana said, seems to be working so far. Good luck!
 
Old 01-20-2004, 04:10 PM   #11
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Some women do bulk up a bit-- that would be me, definitely. I've also got "big leg genetics," even my brothers have big thighs. I've had some success by using the rowing machine and aqua aerobics to build up my upper body so the whole thing looks more proportional. Either one of these has a resistance component, but I definitely don't bulk up as fast as I would with weights. Still, even the rowing machine is making my butt larger. Sigh.

Lately I've thought I should go get my Lean Body Mass measured, along with a bone scan to try to figure out how much is muscle and how much is bone and "other." With that as a baseline, and a yearly recheck, at least I could comfort myself with the notion that I may be big, but I'm getting leaner. The other day I did the quickie paper and pencil LBM test in Covert Bailey's "Ultimate Fit or Fat" and it came out to 128 lbs. of LBM. This is after 10 years of lazing off, followed by the two years (just prior to now) of haphazard aqua aerobics.

Oh well. My husband thinks I look like a field hockey player. Fortunately, he thinks that's attractive, lol!
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Old 01-27-2004, 06:17 PM   #12
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I would say that the important thing is diet and cardio. Maybe you should lay off of the weights for a while and do lunges/squats, etc with dumbells or even no weight. Make sure you are getting enough calories... it sounds funny, but sometimes people will stunt their metabolism with starvation. Just make sure you are eating healthfully, getting enough, do some cardio, and very light weights. You might want to start running/swimming, etc. instead of elliptical/stairclimber/other muscular type machines.
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