I am envious of women who “bulk up” easily

The other day I was reading this post about competitive powerlifting over at xoJane – and by the way, I loved the author’s enthusiasm for lifting, but was not so enamored of her insistence that it is the key to weight loss – and I decided to delve into the comments, because I am a masochist and this is what I do.

Predictably, I was horrified within two mouse scrolls by the sheer number of women who said they don’t want to lift weights because they bulk up too quickly.  If the commenters are to be believed, the lady half of the population is filled with latent she-hulks who need to do nothing more than walk into the free weights section of a given gym before their muscles pop out like a pair of cartoon eyeballs.

But as I read through the comments, my normal disbelief and, okay, I’ll admit it, my slight derision gave way to a sensation that was a lot more uncomfortable than the warm comfort of smug superiority, an emotion I later identified as “envy.”  I read comment after comment about concerns over “bulking up” and by the time I’d read the 50th comment to that effect, I found myself wanting nothing more than to take those women by the shoulders and shake them while screaming, “DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?  DO YOU KNOW WHAT KINDS OF BODILY GIFTS THE MULTIVERSE HAS RAINED DOWN UPON YOUR HEAD?  STOP COMPLAINING! BE GRATEFUL!”

See, I lift about three or four times a week.  I don’t lift as heavy as I could because I don’t want to interfere with my marathon training, but I do not shy away from barbells and 25 lb. dumbbells.  I embrace “man exercises” like push-ups and bench presses.  I drink protein shakes after I lift.  I carry hard-boiled eggs and protein powder in my purse.  I read books about lifting.  I develop programs and I change them regularly so I can challenge my body.  I have deposited small oceans of sweat on weight benches.  I have callouses on my hands from gripping metal bars.

And yet, my muscles are not that big.  I’m strong but I am not built.  I wish this were not the case.  I want arms that can be called “guns” and thighs like striated tree trunks. For whatever reason, though, this has not yet happened.  Maybe it’s because I run so much?  Maybe it’s because the hormonal soup that flows through my body isn’t right for big muscles?  Maybe it’s because my long limbs stretch out any muscles I do develop?  Maybe I’m not doing something right?  Who knows.  All I know is that it’s not easy for me to “bulk up.”   But man, how I wish it was.

When I hear women bemoan the way their bodies pack on muscle, I can’t help but feel a bit envious.  To me, it’s like hearing someone say they hate running because they are just so fast, or they don’t like to write because they might accidentally win a Pulitzer Prize and wouldn’t that be awful.  Their worst fear is one of my most fervent desires.

Listen, ladies who bulk up – your bodies are telling you something.   Your bodies are saying, We want to be strong, we want to be muscular, we want to be ripped!  If your body puts on muscle this easily, it’s because your body wants to be muscular.  If your body thought muscle was a bad thing, it wouldn’t build it so easily.

But you know what does think a woman with muscle is a bad thing?  Our culture.  Our culture has a big, big problem with women who are physically strong.  Our culture says women who are physically strong are manly and unattractive and ugly.  Our culture says women ought to be in need of protection from husbands, fathers, boyfriends.  Our culture says women ought to be vulnerable to harm at all times, because if we were not, why would we need male protection?

Remember this next time you hate on your body’s innate ability to easily pack on muscle.  Your capability for physical strength is immense.  Do not take it lightly.  Do not dismiss it.  Please recognize it for the gift that it is.

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50 responses to “I am envious of women who “bulk up” easily

  1. Love the post. But I’ve found that most of the women that claim they “get bulky” aren’t big at all. I have a client that was complaining she was bulky and her arms are half the size of mine.

    I think that most of the women that claim they get bulky just have a distorted body image because our culture has a fear of strong women.

    • I suspect this is also often the case as well. Even so, I wish that ladies who do think they put on an “excessive” amount of muscle – whatever that means – would stop looking at it as something to be fought against and instead see it as a wonderful gift to be cherished.

      Shoot, I wish I could bulk up easily. I’d run around in muscle shirts and tight pants to show off my muscles ALL THE TIME if that were the case.

    • I completely agree – I think many women freak out at the sight of any visible muscle, and consider that “bulking up.” I really do bulk up easily, though, and it is AWESOME, mostly because I also get a lot of quick returns on my strength training. I’m able to be a relative slacker with regard to weights and still out-lift all my friends, too, so I think that it’s not just that I’m building big muscles, I’m building strong ones, too (by slacker I mean that I generally lift for 15 minutes twice a week).

      The downside is that actual bulking up does just that – my clothes fit very differently if I stop lifting, because I lose so much mass.

      I’m pretty sure it’s genetic – I have a (female) cousin who’s a competitive body builder, and she’s the same way, as is my sister. (Become ripped is another story entirely – that’s the combo of bulky and low body-fat, and I don’t quite have both…)

  2. AMEN! I’ve wanted to say this for so long. I’ve got callouses beneath by callouses from olympic lifting. I love every pull-up and push-up variation I can find, and I’ve tried a slew of different recovery shakes, but my strength gains are so frustratingly slow. Every time I read one of those “if I lift a tiny little bit more weight, will I get bulky?” questions, I want to laugh. I WISH it were that easy to accidentally wake up ripped. Even if they were one of the very rare, freak-of-nature women who could easily pack on muscle, it would be a gradual enough process that they could stop lifting if they wanted to (though god knows why they’d want to)… it’s not like any woman ever woke up one day and looked like the hulk because she learned to bench press a week ago.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one fighting for every bit of strength and muscle I have. I’m glad that I actually enjoy the act of lifting as much as I do, because if I was doing it strictly for the sake of building muscle, I would be so discouraged by now.

    • This was my thought as well, that this is just another form of body dysmorphia. Caitlin, I’m with you–I’ve been riding my bike a bunch this spring, and doing some weights to complement to my riding, and I keep thinking that if I do this enough, I’m going to start rocking some short skirts this summer. (Short for me being slightly above the knee, but you get the idea.)

  3. I read that article as well and felt envy, both for those who can eat anything while they are weight training, and those who bulk so easily. I have to watch my nutrition incredibly close (and I’m still overweight) and I’ve been through several training programs and I have trouble seeing the muscles. But, like you, I keep at it because nothing put a smile on my face like the iron does!

    • Yeah, that was an issue I had with that article, that a woman who weight-trains will just see the weight fly off. I am not sure it’s that easy for a lot of people. In fact, weight loss seems like a really difficult thing to achieve, which is why I think people might be less discouraged if they focus on feeling good and strong and healthy, just because those things come a lot easier.

  4. I suspect a significant number of women who worry that lifting will make them bulky are consciously or unconsciously giving themselves an out. Lifting weights is hard work. If I have a good reason I don’t engage, I am much more comfortable with myself. It’s called justification or rationalization or the theory of cognitive dissonance. When humans are uncomfortable with their motivations, they consciously or unconsciously create motives with which they are more comfortable. I don’t know how many times non-runners have told me why running is bad for you despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    • Good point. I think a lot of people do that, come up with reasons why they can’t do something that are a lot more palatable to them than fear or just not wanting to.

  5. When I was working in a bike shop last year, I had really toned, muscular arms from lifting bikes and heavy stock, and freaking loved it. I would use any excuse to wear sleeveless tops and cap sleeves to show off my guns. In reality, they probably were mini-guns but I loved them.

    • Mini-guns! Yes, that’s what I have, like the muscular equivalents of a Saturday night special. But hey, they get the job done and that’s what counts!

  6. Oh my gosh, YES. Until I started lifting weights (and I’m not a serious lifter, but I do keep it up) I was always bemoaning my natural body shape because something felt not quite right–I was “soft” but not terribly hippy or big-breasted or small-waisted. And that always got to me, the idea that it was okay to be “curvy” if you were, well, curvy, which left tending-toward-overweight-but-not-va-va-voomy women like me sort of feeling like I was somehow “doing it wrong.”

    But when I started lifting, I saw what my body wanted to do. When I am treating my body right–eating right, exercising, including moderate weight lifting, which is really all I want to do–my “curves” turn out to be muscles waiting to happen. Because, as you point out, that’s how my body wants to be–for whatever reason, that’s how my “best” body turns out. It’s never going to be lanky and slim, nor is it going to be a goddesslike hourglass.

    And here’s the thing: As another commenter pointed out, my muscles aren’t that big. There are women at my gym who put me to shame. My arms are more toned than the average woman but even with consistent weightlifting for several years, I’m no she-hulk–I just have visible deltoids, that’s pretty much it. I still have a good layer of fat covering the muscles that pop out more when I lift weights–most women would, unless they’re on a serious training program. My god, I can’t think of a single woman who looked “too muscular” (and I’m using what I think the kind of person who would use that phrase would consider “too muscular,” because short of steroid users I don’t think such a thing exists) who wasn’t in serious training. Having that kind of body takes a specific kind of work.

    • Isn’t it so interesting, how we can so easily fall into the trap of thinking our bodies are all wrong because they don’t look this way or that? I find myself thinking that way a lot as well, and really the only thing that snaps me out of it is getting really into fitness and athletics. I don’t mean to act like that’s an automatic cure-all, because lord knows there a lot of weird body politics going on in the world of sports and fitness, but I’ve found that as I work with my body to develop its actual capabilities instead of against it in an attempt to fit a specific idea of how I should look, I become more comfortable with the way I look. It’s almost paradoxical in a way.

      And yes, I cannot think of a single woman at my gym who looks “too muscular.” There are some buff broads at my gym but I think they all look incredible and they do some amazing things. There’s one lady in particular who was doing kips on the TRX and I was like, “Make me your acolyte so I can worship at the feet of your awesomeness.” I admire the hell out of them.

  7. OMG. First of all, as someone above mentioned, I don’t think these women who claim that they bulk up so easily really do put on muscle with the snap of the finger. I think that 1. they’re just afraid they will, and 2. they’re turned off by the slightest muscular definition. I think our definitions of what bulky is vary. Short of a female bodybuilder, I rarely think a woman looks bulky. But many other women probably think someone like Jamie Eason is bulky. I remember a few years ago there were pictures of Jessica Biel in a bathing suit (I believe she has since atrophied her muscles to be more “hollywood”….sad) looking kind of muscular, and lots of women felt she was too bulky. I thought she looked amazing. I dunno. What IS wrong with being strong and having muscles? I want to be a personal trainer, but the prospect of dealing with this kind of mentality is very discouraging to me.

    • That’s really sad about Jessica Biel, because I always thought she looked lovely. It was annoying to read comments about her where people was like, “OMG she looks like a man!” It just goes to show how skewed the cultural ideas of gender and bodies really can be.

      I hope you do pursue being a personal trainer because honestly, I think the only way we are ever going to change this mentality is by being vocal opponents of it on all fronts. It’s discouraging, yes, but it’s so important that we fight it, too!

      • I think there’s also a concern on her part being type-casted as an action hero type if she kept her muscularity though I think she had kept some of her hardness. So it’s not a total loss and she can probably re-add it if she really wanted to.

        BUT, in a relevant note, you should check out the toon show on Nick “Avatar: The Legend of Korra.” Might be a beginning of a changes to come.

  8. Well, in fairness (and speaking as someone who IS “chunky” and does bulk up pretty easily, as well as from speaking to some of my more fitness-mad friends) I’ll tell you what the biggest problem is — the damn clothes. Gain even a little bit of firm, non-compressible muscle mass, and you’ve pushed yourself right out of the constricting shoulders and sleeves of your optimal size range. It’s deeply annoying, especially since if you’re working out that hard, you’ve probably lost a little bit of pudge around the middle, and you’d prefer to be wearing something that will show it off, rather than something draping loosely off your newly defined shoulders. And you certainly don’t have to be in serious training for Miss Fitness 2012 for that to happen; just a new dedication to the kettlebells will do it.

    However, I don’t personally know anyone who complains about it being a bad thing for women as women. Thank goodness.

    • I can see how problems with clothing sizes can be legitimately frustrating, especially as that is something I deal with, even in my relatively smaller size. For instance, there are a lot of shirts out there with sleeves that are too tight around my biceps, and I have had to buy larger shirts to accommodate my pectoral area. And like I said, I’m not even that built. But at the same time, a lot of women have trouble finding clothing that works for me. If you are taller than average or shorter than average or if you are heavy or really petite or any number of things that make you an outlier in anyway, buying clothes is a challenge. Which is why I tend to not buy many clothes, unless I come across something that fits me well and then I’ll buy like six of it.

      I also have to say that it makes me sad when women – myself included – feel bad about our bodies because clothes don’t fit right. The problem is with the clothes, not our bodies!

      • This has always been my problem, but clothes have always existed that are big enough for me. Sometimes the styles I want are not made big enough — I outgrew the juniors department by age sixteen, and since college I’ve needed “women’s” sizes on top (i.e., size 16 or greater, plus sizes).

        I also tend to find that things fit poorly when they are big enough: what will accommodate my shoulders and arms will flap loosely around my chest and waist. Luckily, I can sew, so I alter the most egregious offenders.

    • Clothing has been my biggest problem as well. I’m a busty, plus-size woman with shoulders and upper arms that clothing manufacturers, at least, classify as “big guns.” When I need to start with a plus size due to my waist measurement, add a size to accommodate my breasts, then add an additional size to accommodate my arms, it both reduces my fashion choices and ups my clothing costs (which is the bigger deal to me) a lot.

      Now, my desert rat solution is just to say “fuck sleeves” and wear sleeveless shirts nearly all the time (and for 10 months a year, it works just fine), but I can see how it would be an issue for people in other climates.

      (And still and all, frustrated as I get with limited clothing sizes, I am dedicated to my belief that my clothes should fit my body rather than my body fit my clothes.)

      • “Desert rat,” lol. I’m a swamp rat myself. And I completely agree that the answer is not to get frustrated with our bodies for not fitting clothes but to get mad at clothing manufacturers who don’t make clothes to fit a variety of bodies.

  9. “Listen, ladies who bulk up – your bodies are telling you something. Your bodies are saying, We want to be strong, we want to be muscular, we want to be ripped! ”

    Amazing, just loved that quote!

    I really get the impression that the vast majority of women who worry about this, though, experience the post workout water retention and confuse that with bulking up (or see the after effects on the scale too). I honestly wonder how many women would consider themselves “bulked up” if they realized that this is just water retention and not that their muscles inflated over night.

    • I don’t know, that’s a good question. Water retention after working out is something I only learned about recently so I wonder if someone who is just a casual gym goer, and not a total gym rat like myself, would be aware of that.

  10. It’s interesting to hear different perspectives and interpretations. After going to the other article that was mentioned, I thought a lot of those comments were simply pointing out (not necessarily with criticism) that these “rules” aren’t universal, that lifting weights can increase muscle size for some women.

    I am a woman who happens to have the genetics for high muscle mass, regardless of whether I work out or not. I love being muscular, and as I’ve grown older I can see how my outer physical strength has helped me recognize and tap into my inner strengths.

    But to be honest – I am self conscious at times. And it’s not just related to internalizing the messages that are out there. I dated a guy once who gave me a hard time about being out of shape, but then criticized me for lifting weights at the gym. “Why do you want to be bigger?” he asked. (Yeah, he was a jerk. And insecure.)

    So while I appreciate the “yay muscles” vibe here, I’d actually love to see us (as a society, as well as us as women) moving away from the issue of “size”. We’re all different, so let’s focus on what our bodies can DO instead of what our bodies look like! Let’s celebrate STRENGTH, in whatever form it takes or however it is expressed.

    • “We’re all different, so let’s focus on what our bodies can DO instead of what our bodies look like! Let’s celebrate STRENGTH, in whatever form it takes or however it is expressed.”

      Yes! I hope you don’t get the feeling that I am trying to substitute one set of body ideals for another, because that is so the antithesis of what I believe in. I just hate the way our culture enforces this idea that to be a woman is to be physically weak and fragile, and I’ve noticed that a big way that happens is by making women with muscles feel like they are somehow freakish or wrong.

      And by the way, I’m happy to see that you used the past tense verb “dated” with regards to that guy. You obviously deserve way better than to be with someone who negs you like that.

  11. Amen! I spent the first part of my life as a serious athlete, which is where I learned to love physical exertion, weight lifting, and setting myself a challenge goal that would help me improve. I too am tall and could never “muscles with mass” even as I got much stronger…I lifted and ate and ate and ate…and even at my most muscular, at about 170 lbs, I just didn’t LOOK like a strongwoman. Fast-foward many years to grad school when I took up ballet as a distraction from my dissertation (yeah, exactly the kind of thing an obsessive type would pick for diversion!)…between the stress and frugal living of grad school, not being in athletics anymore, and changing over to different forms of exercise, I lost a lot of body fat (and some muscle…you can’t just pick ONE to add or lose) and my body and my muscles adapted accordingly. Now, at 135 lbs, I have smaller but very defined muscles, which were there all along, just hidden by body fat and–let’s face it–just not that large to begin with. It turns out that my body is much better suited to dance, but ironically, I’m a “little too muscular” in the studio whereas I was “not muscular enough” in the weight room, but I love how adaptable and how capable my body has been at every stage. Which just goes to show that your frame of reference. the environment you are in, the comparisons you make, AND your basic body type and tendencies all play a part. :)

  12. Preach it!
    I get so frustrated by people warning me of the perils of lifting big weights- I’m too old (I’m 40), I’ll hurt my back &/or hips, I’ll get “too big” (whatever that means), I’ll end up “looking like a man” and therefore alone… the last one was said to me by my mum when I was in my late 20’s and trying to beat heroin addiction- I guess being a thin, “feminine” junkie is better than being clean, muscular and “too masculine” :\
    I have only recently got back into lifting again and I feel so capable when I feel strong, I love it, yet I still hear people deride muscular women on a regular basis. I recently showed my auntie and uncle pics of the type of physique I aspire to and my uncle pointed out that one woman’s legs were “huge” and both he and my auntie pointed to the other woman, who had a total Balanchine body, and said how lovely she looked. And she did, they both looked great in different ways but I had to point out the only way I ever achieved that Balanchine look was when I was anorexic. I don’t want to go back to an eating disorder to be seen as “feminine enough”, and what the hell is wrong with being overtly strong anyway?
    It makes me so sad that women are scared of being percieved as “too strong”, because somehow that’s a masculine trait and we shouldn’t aspire to the things most men take for granted.
    I’m not going to stop lifting anytime soon- hell, I want to deadlift at least 120kg (I can deadlift 80kg so I’ve got a ways to go)- and I would be thrilled if I bulked up easily, but shy of doing a cycle of Anavar it ain’t gonna happen. Personally speaking, developing muscle is so freaking hard, I just about sweat blood for even the slightest increase in lean muscle mass.
    And like others here I also suspect a lot of this fear of becomming “too” muscular is actually a form of distorted body image fueled by society’s gender stereotypes and all those “this is what a nice woman should be like” mesages that we internalise on a daily basis (clumsy sentence structrue ahoy!).

    • i love the look like a man comment.

      check out my blog: curlsareforgirls.blogspot (i have a great article about girls and lifting)

  13. to get that “gun” is achievable for everyone. but nutrition and heavy lifting combined will have to be spot on. you need to bulk (eat 500 calories above maintenance) and get yourself on a good weight lifting program. :) i was once a skinny girl and i see great success in only about a year… imagine 3 years………

    it all comes down to mind-set… and do you really want it??

    IT’S WORK.
    IT’S SACRIFICE.
    IT’S CONSISTENCY.

  14. As a woman who legitimately does gain both strength and muscle size easily, can I just say that I appreciate the hell out of it. I absolutely love it.

  15. You gals would absolutely go crazy with one of the women at my gym. You can tell she has the genetics to bulk up easily, thick, broad shoulders, looks “stocky” yet she purposely only lifts the lightest weights consistently. Heck, even me, as a guy, I’m jealous because I don’t necessarily build muscle easily. What a waste of great genetics.

  16. I bulk easily, I have huge biceps, shoulders, and abs, all of them come from climbing because I don’t like the gym.

  17. I am one of those women who complains about bulking. But this doesn’t mean I don’t want to be strong. I don’t want any more size. As someone who as struggled with finding clothes that fit, and needed to size up to fit my thighs and arms from pretty much elementary school on, I am sensitive to the idea of actually getting bigger.

    I have pounds to lose, and I know many people just talk about the “bulking” is from the layer of fat covering my muscles. But for me, I check two things: how much can I pinch? How firm do I feel?

    As it stands, I feel pretty firm in my current state and I am only halfway to my goal weight, so I know I’ll need to monitor closely to see if my strength training is adding size. The amount I can pinch is getting a lot smaller, but the size of my arms and legs isn’t. So i try to do a lot of body weight stuff with occasional heavy lifting. I am trying to lift even heavier, with fewer reps as I hear that supposedly under 8 reps doesn’t increase size. Otherwise it is body weight variations of the basics.

  18. I truly am bulky. In my day to day life as a stonemason I regularly lift and carry 300lbs+. The body I long for would be more long lean muscles, than bulked up ones. Why? For many, perhaps frivolous, reasons. Like purchasing clothing. Most women’s clothes are not built for my broad shoulders, tree trunk thighs, protruding glutes and big guns. Fitting into furniture meant for lean muscle frames is a feat best not tried in public. I also have height going against me there, as I’m taller than most men. Leg room AND hip room is an obstacle.

    I own being “an amazon” of a woman, and scaring the breath out of most people with my appearance (‘cept for my decidedly friendly face.) I’m proud of my height and strength. It is, however, decidedly inconvenient that a woman’s world is built for medium build women in the 5’4″-5’8″ range. Before I bulked up for work, I could make do with just a few hangups in the height department, but the big muscles have some downsides.

    Luckily random harassment isn’t one of those downsides.

    • My friend and I were talking about this the other day, how buying clothes that fit our bodies has become challenging for us ever since we both took up weight training in earnest. I can’t deny that it’s frustrating, but then I’ve always had issues buying clothes – I’m also tall, like you – and so I guess I’m used to making concessions regarding what I can and cannot wear. But I don’t really think it’s frivolous as much as it’s a sad commentary on just how limited options are when it comes to keeping our bodies clothed.

    • Fortunately, there are supporters of amazons out there. Proud supporters. Glad to hear you haven’t received too many hate comments. Having owned a youtube channel and done some interviews with female bodybuilders during my media stint, haters and people with envy have far too easy ways to get under the skin.

  19. Caitlin – totally love your blogs! I’ve responded before to another blog of yours a while back and must respond again. My legs are so muscular that my doctor was unable to do an ultrasound on them and sent me for an MRI instead. I started weight lifting 6 months ago after never having taken lifting seriously (pretty pink dumbells anyone?) My maximum dumbell for the past 15 (you read that right) years was 8 pounds – u huh.

    Today, six months into SERIOUS weight lifting, I’ve changed my body fat and my physique. I deadlift 80 lbs / squat 60 pounds on my shoulders and leg press 100 pounds. I have been asked at the club more than once if I am a personal trainer. I’ve had people at the club ask to workout with me. One lady said to me, “I was watching you … you’re soooo strong!” Many others have commented on my legs / ams shoulders – you name it.

    My body is not pefect (pesky abs). But it is very clear to anyone who looks at me (especially pumped up) that I lift HEAVY weights. What is clear to me also is that my body is not meant to be “skinny” but very athletic (muscular / fit) – thick but well defined. I have ZERO CELLULITE!

    What’s odd is that most of my compliments come from skinny (size 4) girls who do hours of cardio (what I USED to do – NO MORE). My cardio is 30 minutes a day. I lift 1 – 1.5 hours 4 days a week. My body mass TOOK OFF (because I’m intentionaly building mass) when I began weightl lifting. I do it with such ease I feel like I’m genetically cheating.

    It takes a little getting used to building all this muscle. But I LOVE IT. Oh – and in closing, when people ask me to tell them what I do to look so muscula they usually run in the other direction because this is what I do: I eat and eat some more the right foods (I try to) / i rarely weight myself and go by how I look – period! I have quit trying to be a body image dictated by social media. I have more compliments now than ever on my physique – and it isn’t a size 4 but a size 8 at 150 lbs. I shop in the teenage jeans department all the department. I LOVE IT.

  20. This is great. I did weightlifting and gained so much. I started getting respect from guys in the weight-room and getting comments on how big my arms were becoming. I have lost more than everything since I got sick, so I am starting all over. I lost 12 pounds in one week (all of it was muscle). It is going to be hard, but at least I know what I am doing. (I literally have nothing to flex anymore…) I think that all women can bulk up, they just need their heart in it. I definitely don’t think being bulky is only for men.

    • Ack! Sorry to hear you got so sick and lost so much of your muscle mass. That has got to be tough. I take it that you are talking more than just a cold, right?

  21. I’m one of those women. Seriously – you should see the size of my shoulders! I only have to sniff at a gym and I bulk up.

    I’m getting to the stage now that I can’t find any clothes to fit in the whole of my city and have to order them online. I’m 5’11” and weight about 180 pounds, and am a female bodybuilder, and they just don’t typically make clothes for women my size with muscle. So it’s a real problem.

    It’s also just genetics. All the men in my dad’s line (I don’t know about the women, as they’re all males) are built the same way – and my son is shaping up to be about 6’8″ and HUGE, solid muscle.

    But I don’t see the muscle itself as something bad – I love it, and long for more. Being a bodybuilder, it’s a Good Thing.

    But women who bulk up easily also put on fat easily generally. That’s the bummer. My BMI is about 24, and I have to watch Every Mouthful. I eat, I gain. I’m maintaining 180 pounds on 1500 calories a day, strict monitoring. I have friends who are 5 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter who can eat another 1000 calories a day and not gain weight. Yep, they have a hard time gaining muscle too.

    I’m convinced that there are actually just two general types of body – those that add mass (all types of mass) easily and those who are hard gainers in every way (muscle and fat). Those of us who bulk up easily probably had ancestors who were warriors, blacksmiths etc. Those who didn’t probably had ancestors who did non-muscle-depenedent stuff. That’s my guess anyway, based on Nothing Scientific At All, just observation.

    So yeah, interesting topic. Yes, the first time I deadlifted I could lift over 200 pounds, but the downer of being so strong is I can’t buy clothes in a normal shop, whereas ever my “fat” friends have options open to them everywhere (plus size clothes don’t fit me properly – they STILL don’t fit in the shoulders, and hang in the waist and butt).

    Swings and roundabouts.

    • First off, as a guy who is generally skinny and have trouble putting on muscle in the first place. I’m so envious! I’m glad you’re enjoying the bodybuilding experience. And your Son is almost 7 feet tall? Wow. He’s into sports as well?

      I’m surprised to hear that you only take in 1500 calories a day though for a person of your stature. Do you run into any problems with energy when you perform heavy lifts / sets?

      • Hi – My son is tracking to be over six and a half feet tall, we’re not sure exactly. But he’s only 8 at the moment! If he continues along current trends, we’re looking at about 6’8″. My brother is about 6’5″ / 6’6″, so it’s not really surprising in my family. But a problem – my brother has to get most of his business clothes from a specialist shop, and it is very expensive. And I won’t comment on such issues as flying internationally :(

        I’m using MyFitnessPal to track calories, and am consuming between 1500 and 1700 a day, or thereabouts. The weight is coming off, but s l o w l y. I don’t run into problems re energy, but I do find the slowness of weight loss frustrating. My body just wants to grow grow grow, and the work of shedding fat but building muscle is really, really tough.

      • Interesting. The reason why I ask is that I often get hounded for not eating enough calories but that was when I ate around 1900 calories. So to hear about you being able to gaining at less calories, makes my head spin somewhat.

  22. Saying that putting on muscle easily means you’re meant to be muscular is like saying that if your body gains fat easily, you are meant to be fat.

    I am an easy muscle gainer myself, and it’s not body dysmorphia. I was a personal trainer for about 4 years. My nickname at the gym was “tiny monster” and I had thick curvy muscles. I actually did enjoy the sense of power and strength. I’ve since realized I prefer a softer, leaner look. However I still love the visible veins wrapping around my forearms from doing manual labor for a living, and I love being able to do clean and presses and real pushups. I also REALLY like being able to wear size 4 jeans.

    I’ve noticed women in the fitspo crossfit community bash the desire for thinness the same way that women in the ana community bash fat and muscle. Why isn’t it okay to just BE the way you prefer within the limits God set for your genetics?

  23. I’d give anything to be able to bulk up easy, but I don’t thing I can without some kind of pharmaceutical assistance – I have crappy genetics :-(
    Many women are also suffering from the delusion that they are “bulky” unless their arms and legs resemble strands of thin spaghetti!

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