As weight lifting started gaining popularity, many women tried it and love the results. Many personal trainers, fitness gurus, and influencers have already busted a myth of women getting bulky, men-like body from weight lifting. We already know that women don’t produce the same hormones as men, so they can exercise like men without looking like men and can actually gain more feminine curves.
However, for women who just started weight lifting it is common to see slight weight gain on a scale, or feel tighter in their clothes, so here I wanted to explain why it happens and what to do about it.
#1. It’s a post-workout swelling
When you start lifting weights, your body is going through major adjustments. Your muscles suddenly get a lot of pump and they temporarily get swollen which creates more muscular look, too (this is why a lot of bodybuilders like to take photos of themselves right after workout). Especially for beginners, the swelling may be pretty big. And if you do weight lifting pretty often, your muscle almost always stay a bit swollen. It may take up to 5 days to completely recover the muscle after an intense workout. That doesn’t mean you have to wait that long to exercise the same muscle again, but it is recommended to give a day or two (depending on intensity of workout) of rest for the same muscle to heal. So if you did arms today, you may consider doing legs tomorrow.
From my personal experience, even though I’ve been into fitness for fairly long, I always look and feel smaller when I go to vacation simply because all my muscles have time to fully recover.
#2. It’s in your diet
When you first start weight lifting, you gain muscle pretty fast. Later on it gets harder to see gains. If you also need to lose weight, and your diet isn’t at the best stage, you simply take in too much calories for fat burn so you only gain muscle and don’t lose any fat. It creates extra “layer” on your body that makes you look even bigger. While in the long run, muscle will help to lose fat because they help your body to burn more calories at rest, in the first few months of weight lifting, too much calories in your diet will get you more bulky. Many bodybuilders who look for a bulkier physique do the “bulking phase” when thy eat more and lift. But if you cut down calories (not too much because you still want muscle gain) but leave some room for fat loss, you will be getting only smaller and looking more and more toned.
Also remember that if your goal is to get some specific muscle groups bigger (many women try to gain bigger glutes, for example), you will need to lift heavy, eat a good amount of “clean” calories (stay in a calorie surplus) and be prepared that you jeans will one day be too tight not from fat gain but because it is not flat there anymore so your goal is successfully achieved! And if your goal is to lose weight with weight lifting, then pay attention to your diet to be in a caloric deficit to lose fat.
I hope that helps,
happy wight training ladies!