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Forum: Advice / Strengthening

Strengthening
strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Garnet_Juliet Comments: 134, member since Mon Jan 28, 2013
On Thu Jan 31, 2013 05:46 PM

For a year I have been doing the same types of workouts, and I have noticed their effect - but I don't think I like their effect.

Basically I have been doing 15 - 20 minutes of intense intervals (using 20lb weights for some of the exercises if I can) and have done this 5 days a week.

I like what it has done for my arms, shoulders and abs.
I think, however, that it has bulked my thighs and butt by adding muscle. This, I don't like. I can tell that I'm stronger but I didn't want to be bigger! Seriously, my clothes don't fit the same way - they are looser at the waist but snug across my butt and thighs.

Also, although my legs are stronger - I haven't noticed any improvement in my ability to hold my turnout. So I assume I'm strengthening muscles in my legs but not those specific muscles.

Has anyone had any luck in actually strengthening your leg muscles without using weights and only doing body-weight and leg-lifts?

Leg lifts sure feel difficult while you're doing them, once you get to that 60-80th rep, but I've never noticed any real appearance changes or results doing those, plus they are sooo tedious and boring, lying there counting and counting and counting!!!

I want to loose weight and size, but I don't want to lose strength. Like many women, I am pear-shaped and naturally retain extra fat in those areas of my body, so I could simply diet and try to lose weight overall, but I suspect the exercises are also contributing to my bigger size.

A couple of limitations on my resources: I live in a small house so I don't have a lot of space and I cannot take more than 1 dance class per week.

I'd love to know some good exercises that will really target those turnout muscles...something difficult, not just millions of repetitive motions.

Am I asking too much?

11 Replies to strengthen without bulk

re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5880, member since Sat Jan 25, 2003
On Thu Jan 31, 2013 07:21 PM
Turning out your legs requires such a specific set of muscles that the best way to improve your turnout is to do exercise that require, you got it, turning out. Squats and lunges and so on are great for strengthening your body in other way but not for turn out.

I feel like I'm not sure what else to tell you, if the waist of your pants has gotten smaller and your legs and bum have gotten a big more muscular than it sound like you've dropped body fat and have increased muscle which is a very healthy thing to do. I know it's hard to not pick ourselves apart but having muscular legs is a great thing and it means you are strong and healthy. If you don't want to see visible size growth in your muscles, I would stick to body weight exercises and eating at a maintenance level for your weight. I personally really enjoy lifting really heavy weights and I don't think it's made me look "bulky" although I know that word is incredibly subjective. I know some people that think the tiniest bit of muscle on a women means they look like the hulk and others enjoy a very muscular build because it represents health, strength, etc.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By teenydanseur Comments: 513, member since Mon Nov 23, 2009
On Thu Jan 31, 2013 07:38 PM
Ehhh, when you start building muscle it feels bulky because you're not losing fat at the same time (you can't really do both at the same time) it's not that your muscles are huge, it's just that they are now sharing the space with the fat in your body (which is normal! happens to everyone)

If you wait it out, keep lifting weights, the muscle in your body will help you burn calories quicker, and with minor tweaks to your diet you can drop the half inch or inch you've gained in those areas. Also your muscles will appear more bulky when you leave the gym which can cause that tightness in your jeans to be more noticable. But stay at it! Women don't really gain bulky muscle without a really intense routine, so after the initial muscle gain you'll mostly just be maintaining.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16203, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Thu Jan 31, 2013 07:50 PM
Longer lean muscle development like pilates and yoga might help you slim down the parts that seem to be getting bigger. Women have a very difficult time bulking up their muscles- even with heavy weight training. Yes- they'll get much stronger, but it takes the form of density, not size...so your muscles are changing and while people say they are bulking up it isn't really the case if you get technical about it. When some of my clients say they are bulking it is sometimes because they have some fat covering the muscles that are getting strengthened and changing shape which is the reasons their clothes feel tighter.

In general less weight and more reps help to not "bulk". What exercises are you doing for your legs? Leg lifts...are you talking about laying down with ankle weights??
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Garnet_Juliet Comments: 134, member since Mon Jan 28, 2013
On Thu Jan 31, 2013 07:50 PM
I have suspected that this is the case: that I have added muscle all over my body but the last place I will ever lose "extra" fat is in my legs and butt, so that's where I notice it more.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Garnet_Juliet Comments: 134, member since Mon Jan 28, 2013
On Mon Feb 04, 2013 08:03 PM
on further consideration, I don't think my waist is smaller, I think my pants are just stretched out more over my huge hips and thighs and derriere. I have simply gained weight. bummer. sadface.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Alassin_Sanemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 239, member since Tue Dec 28, 2010
On Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:48 PM
OP, I don't suppose you happened to take your measurements when you started out? Just then you could re-measure and compare.

It's hard to see changes in ourselves sometimes. I know I'm always the last person to notice my own weight loss!

If you haven't already measured yourself (waist, hips etc), I would recommend that you do so and use it as a new starting point for comparison.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By teenydanseur Comments: 513, member since Mon Nov 23, 2009
On Tue Feb 05, 2013 04:26 PM
Also! When I gained more leg muscle my jeans didn't fit as well because it was just harder to squish the muscle into my jeans, and I'd been so used to the fat/non muscle just being able to flatten out LOL. That could be the case for you too! You might find that you're not actually bigger at all! Just denser! Which is a positive if you want strength, try not to be hard on yourself, you're working out consistently which is awesome :)
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By slice Comments: 1152, member since Fri Oct 15, 2004
On Tue Feb 05, 2013 04:36 PM
imadanseur wrote:

Longer lean muscle development like pilates and yoga might help you slim down the parts that seem to be getting bigger. Women have a very difficult time bulking up their muscles- even with heavy weight training. Yes- they'll get much stronger, but it takes the form of density, not size...so your muscles are changing and while people say they are bulking up it isn't really the case if you get technical about it. When some of my clients say they are bulking it is sometimes because they have some fat covering the muscles that are getting strengthened and changing shape which is the reasons their clothes feel tighter.


^ x 1000%

Unless we're talking about pro bodybuilders here (and not au natural ones either), bulk comes from fat and not muscle. Muscle is always lean.

Gaining strength w/o size is definitely possible, but a lot of it has to do with what's going on in the kitchen. If you're not overeating, you won't get bulking. If you eat at a moderate deficit filled with energizing/healthy foods, you can lose weight but continue to perform your best and get stronger.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Garnet_Juliet Comments: 134, member since Mon Jan 28, 2013
On Tue Feb 05, 2013 07:36 PM
I wish I had taken measurements! I have never done that and I think it would be helpful because we can always FEEL bloated and big or FEEL slender and light and really it's subjective in the moment, hormones and water weight and what we're wearing.

I have gained weight since adding muscle. I mean, I'm almost certain I'm stronger because I can do more reps with more weight than I used to. But I think I've been eating poorly, too. When I gain weight I gain it most in my lower half.

I've been scared to pick up those 20 lb weights again when doing lunges and squats because I'm so afraid they're making my legs bigger.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By slice Comments: 1152, member since Fri Oct 15, 2004
On Thu Feb 07, 2013 03:04 PM
Garnet_Juliet wrote:

I wish I had taken measurements! I have never done that and I think it would be helpful because we can always FEEL bloated and big or FEEL slender and light and really it's subjective in the moment, hormones and water weight and what we're wearing.

I have gained weight since adding muscle. I mean, I'm almost certain I'm stronger because I can do more reps with more weight than I used to. But I think I've been eating poorly, too. When I gain weight I gain it most in my lower half.

I've been scared to pick up those 20 lb weights again when doing lunges and squats because I'm so afraid they're making my legs bigger.


Again, you're not going to get bigger or "bulky" unless your eating reflects that. Often times when people begin a new exercise regime (or add to their current one) they start compensating for the energy loss by eating more. And unless you're tracking or using some other way of monitoring your eating, there's no way of telling where the extra calories are coming from.

Also, some people have been known to gain weight directly after exercise due to lactic acid build up and water retention in their muscles. But this is very short term, shouldn't be more than 3-5lbs, and certainly wouldn't be something that makes getting into your jeans hard to do.

Long story short, your legs can only get bigger if you're eating more.
re: strengthen without bulk en>fr fr>en
By Garnet_Juliet Comments: 134, member since Mon Jan 28, 2013
On Thu Feb 07, 2013 04:27 PM
Thank you for the tips! I should keep with the weights and start to eat smarter.

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