It seems that no amount of evidence - analogical, anecdotal, character, circumstantial and 11 other types that I can’t be bothered to list - will be enough to change the deep rooted belief that lifting heavy stuff will make women “bulky”…
Look, Lidia Valentin Perez is a 74kg Spanish Weightlifter; her personal bests are weights that you and I will likely never attain.
So here is someone who routinely lifts massive weights, and yet she is not “bulky”... [and f*** me, I am really starting to hate that f***ing word…]
It comes down to your training goal, rep ranges, calories and testosterone.
So how can women get “bulky”?
1. Stop CrossFit. Our sessions will lean you out and use up precious calories that could be used for significant growth. Appreciated, Blackbrook WoDs are more geared towards strength and power than pointlessly running around for 25 minutes, but still, if you’re a chick and you want to get bulky, stop CrossFit.
2. Instead of 3x5 reps at a challenging weight, consider a hypertrophy protocol... Something like 3x8-12 reps at a moderate weight, and start doing some isolation work for lagging muscle groups… It’s all about time under tension, so maybe try some drop sets… Carrying your sleeping kid up the stairs with ease is now of secondary importance - triumphant biceps is the goal now…
3. Start taking on board an incredibly uncomfortable amount of calories… One tried and true method for this is to add a gallon of milk a day [GOMAD] to your normal dietary intake. GOMAD equals an additional 2400 calories and 120 grams of protein, vital for the growth of new muscle. Remember: you’re bulking now, abs aren’t important...
4. To get truly huge, most women will need to ingest testosterone on purpose, however, this will do little for bulking efforts without significant calories behind it…
The key factor for changing your body composition is hormone response, and it is the hormone testosterone that plays a vital role in the large increases in muscle mass seen when men lift weights.
Normal testosterone levels in men are 200-1200 ng/dl and normal testosterone levels for women are 15-70 ng/dl. As you can see, men’s testosterone levels are a lot higher than women’s. Even if a guy is at the low end of men’s normal testosterone range (200 ng/dl), he still has more than twice the amount of testosterone as a woman at the high end of the women’s normal testosterone range (70 ng/dl).
If we take the mid-range testosterone levels in men and women, 700 for men and 42.5 for women, we can see that, on average, men have 16.5 times more testosterone than women, making it physiologically impossible for women to gain muscle like men unless they ingest testosterone on purpose.
So, can women get bulky at Blackbrook?
Sure. Come in to Open Gym - bring your milk - and add in some hypertrophy work at the end…
Fairly Typical Session:
Block 1 3x5 Back Squat *Bicep Opener [mobility drill]
Block 2 3x Max Rep Chin Ups 3x8-12 Glute-Ham Raise
WoD: Max Distance Prowler Sprint In 60 Seconds…
This fairly typical session will get you lean, fit and strong, and you’ll put on a little size in the right places… Now for some adjustments…
Side Note: The inclusion of Blackbrook conditioning is important… To Quote Louie Simmons of WestSide Barbell fame: “General physical preparedness (GPP) is a term that refers to a degree of fitness which is an extension of absolute strength… Before you can pursue an increase in volume by way of special exercises, you must be in excellent shape. General physical preparedness raises your ability to do more work by special means… I have never met a North American Athlete, from the major team sports, that the inclusion of this work will not cause a remarkable change in their optimum performance. Simply, without this solid base, substantial gains are limited and success is restricted to those more genetically gifted…”
Essentially, take a long term view... Smart GPP - or WoDs - will allow you to perform more work and recover faster over time. The majority of our conditioning is anabolic, though I certainly can’t speak for other CrossFit boxes… WoDs that look too long and light should be avoided for the purposes of bulking. For the most part, keep the Blackbrook WoD in and add in one or two bodybuilding movements that compliment the day’s training. Two or three sets are fine - anymore and you run the risk of doing too much damage and will therefore be under-recovered for the next session… [That means plateaus and regression...]
Bulking Additions... To get “bulky” you would need to train 1 or 2 body parts that compliment the day's strength work… Eg: - Biceps: Curl, 2x8-12 - Quads: Belt Squat, 2x8-12 - Remember to stop off at McDonalds on the way home…
To go the extra mile, you could also adjust the strength component... As an example, instead of 3x5 Back Squat, you could build to a heavy set of 5, then work your way down, repping out, via a horrendous drop set… However, this will make a significant impact on the rest of your session...Keep the calories high, increase your number of rest days, stay on top of your sleep, ingest testosterone, and you’re golden… Significant bulk will be yours, I guarantee it. If you aren’t consistently choking down milk between high calorie meals, ingesting testosterone, sleeping loads and training with the specific intent of gaining mass, then you really don't need to worry about "getting bulky" at Blackbrook because it just won't f***ing happen.
“Sit the f*** down and have a beer”
~ Coach Collins
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