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Getting Bulky

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by Coach Kelly Moates

There’s a question that seems to come up often in the CrossFit world:

“If I do CrossFit, will I get bulky?”

Let’s dig in for a minute.

People appreciate straightforwardness, right? This particular question typically comes from females but is not exclusive to one gender. All endurance athletes ask this question before starting any program with strength training. CrossFit is no different; we incorporate strength, conditioning, functional movements, high intensity, and broad time and modal domains into our program.

First, let’s note that the question is valid on the surface and there is no need to reprimand or judge someone for asking.

So, in answering the original question, “will I get bulky?”, the answer is, it is dependant on your body type as well as the amount of time you spend at the gym. You very well could gain muscle mass and therefore become bulky depending on your definition of the word. When my wife decided to try Crossfit for the first time I told her that she may gain weight. I wanted her to know that the reality was she would likely gain muscle and be “heavier” on the scale. This does not mean that her goals of being healthier and more tone were not achieved. Like most things, it’s a matter of perspective.

It’s also critical that we address two key points.

One, body image is the thing in question here and it’s deeper than looking in the mirror. Again, not gender-specific. You have to be kind to yourself and realize what your goals are. I think it’s important to remember the overarching theme of CrossFit – to live a richer life. We want to play with our dogs at the park, we want to pick up our kids, move our couch, run marathons, eat an entire pizza and not feel bad, etc. Our bodies are beautiful machines that afford us incredible benefits when we treat them right.

Two, there is no number two. Fitness is not that complicated. Do you feel good? Are your labs coming back clean? Can you engage in the activities that you enjoy? If the answer is yes to these then what the hell does bulky matter?

Love your body for all of the things it can do for you. Don’t attach a word to it because Instagram says you should look a certain way. Workout for the right reasons. Eat healthy for the right reasons. Bulky or not, are you fitter than you were the day before? Is your life better?