The trainers at The Exercise Coach are often asked if people can tone muscle without getting bulky from strength training and if muscle really weighs more than fat. The answers are yes and yes!
In a couple of podcast episodes from the “Strength Changes Everything” series, Brian Cygan, Exercise Coach founder, and Amy Hudson, an Exercise Coach franchisee, break down the science of strength training and why you do not have to worry about getting bulky from exercise. Additionally, they explain why strength training may not change the number on the scale.
Resistance strength training can help tone muscle and add lean muscle tissue to the body. But building better muscles does not mean building bigger muscles for most people.
The ability to build bigger muscles, or not, depends on genes and geometry. Genes and the expression of myostatin limits the amount of muscle mass that will grow. Furthermore, the longer the muscle is, the bigger and thicker it will grow. The bodybuilders seen on TV do not have the same myostatin limits as most people and they have longer muscles. They are just wired differently!
Bottomline is most people, especially women, do not have to worry about getting too bulky from strength training.
As a result of strength training, an individual becomes leaner, not bulkier, but they might not see a change in the number on the scale. This can be very misleading when the goal is to improve health and fitness.
For example, when five pounds of fat is lost, and five pounds of muscle is gained, the number on the scale does not change. Five pounds is five pounds regardless of volume. Muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space. While total weight remains constant, the result is a leaner body, with increased strength, energy and stamina. Don’t be misled by the number on the scale when pursuing a leaner body.
If strength training is not a part of your regular exercise routine, do not avoid it for fear of getting bulky or concerns about the number on the scale. To learn more, listen to “Strength Changes Everything” episode 9 and episode 13.