Common question - Will Strength Training Make Me bulky?
I just want to be lean, cut, shredded etc..
One thing I often hear from guys in their 30s and 40s is they don't want to get bigger. They don't want to look bulky like "those bodybuilders."
I also hear they don't need to work on their legs because they are pretty happy with them already.
Let's address the first concern about getting big and bulky.
I know what you're saying. I get it.
You don't want to look like a professional bodybuilder. That's just not your style. That's fine.
But the thing a lot of guys and girls don't realize is the amount of dedication, hard work, and consistency over a long, long period of time that it takes to reach that level.
It's really freaking hard to get jacked. Anyone can bulk and get big and fat.
But to be big and muscular and have some veins and abs is a whole different level of dedication.
If you don't want that look, believe me, you won't get it by luck. You won't get it by doing a few hard workouts for 3 months and drinking a few protein shakes.
For Some Reason You Don't Want to Train Legs...
On to the leg concern.
Most of the time when I hear guys say they don't need to work on their legs because they are happy with them they mean they don't store a lot of fat in them so they don't look as bad as the love handles, man boobs, double chin.
Just because they don't look too bad, is not a reason to run from doing lower body exercises. Also, I think many guys remember a really hard leg workout and are afraid of that intense soreness that comes for the next two or three days.
Especially from lunges. Nothing gets me as sore as some high rep lunges.
What Do You Mean By Big and Bulky?
Let's get in to this idea of getting big and bulky some more.
For our purposes here I'm referring to guys who are already big. By 'big' I mean guys who need to lose at least 20 lbs., and having a bodyfat level above 20%.
Guys that normally store most of their bodyfat in their chest, belly, lower back and neck. Here 'big' does not mean muscular, jacked, vascular.
Lifting weights and consuming an adequate amount of protein will not make you bulky like a bodybuilder. On the contrary, building strength and muscle, along with following a balanced diet will burn fat, and make you look lean.
So what's a big guy supposed to do?
Figure out what your ideal body would look like. Imagine it.
Sometimes we only know what we DON'T want.
If you don't want to be 'big' but you want to be lean you should strive to achieve the 'V taper'. Broad shoulders, a strong defined back and narrow waist. Not a tiny, weak waist. But one where you don't have love handles.
With this look you are impressive in a t-shirt or shirtless in the bedroom.
You don't want to be huge but you want to look good. Nothing wrong with that.
Your goals are your own. No one has to understand them or agree with them.
Sometimes it's just a matter of word choice. One guy says lean, one guy says shredded, one says cut. Each guy can have a different mental image of each word too so you have to know what it is you really want.
Write it down. Imagine it. Draw it out. Find a photo of someone with a similar build that you want to look like. (you never will look exactly like them of course but it helps to have a visual guide sometimes)
When you figure out what you want to achieve, you need to get on the right program.
Lift Some Weights, Sprint, Eat for Your Goal
I'm not going to recommend a program here. Do some variation of squats, presses, pulls from the floor, pullups, dips and fill in the rest with whatever lifts you like to work those areas you want to improve.
Stick to reps between 4-12 for most lifts. If your goal is pure strength, you'll need to mix in some lower rep work on squats, deadlifts, bench presses and overhead presses.
You don't need some fancy complicated routine made for professional bodybuilders or powerlifters.
Do some basic lifts, get stronger at them and change it up every few weeks for variety and to keep it fun.
When you decide what you want, then what you DON'T want will fall away; whether it's man-boobs, beer belly, love handles, flat ass, double chin.
Don't worry about getting bulky. Just lift some weights, sprint 1-2 times a week, and eat for your goals. Enjoy burning off that fat and getting toned. Or lean or whatever other word you choose to use for the look you desire.
Want a customized program with strength training and cardio mixed in? Check out this article for more info- Strength Essentials