Will CrossFit cause bulky muscles? And can I prevent this?

I started doing CrossFit recently. I like it fine,but a girl in my class is very bulky - I knew her from before and she was much leaner. I don't want big muscles. I just really need to lose fat. Is bulk a natural side effect of CrossFit or does it depend on genetics etc. Can I prevent bulking either way? Help a newb.


  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,888 Member
    You have to eat bulky to get bulky. You don't just get bulky from lifting or doing CF. CF is actually sub-optimal training for putting on mass. I did CF years ago, and the guys I knew who were big didn't get big doing CF...they were doing traditional weight lifting in addition to or before they did CF.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,834 Member
    Nothing like that happens overnight, particularly for women, especially not without performance-enhancing drugs.

    Do genetics make some difference? Sure. Also relative youth, good nutrition, specifics of the exercise challenge, and more. Also, lean-ness (relative lack of body fat) matters. I know women who are remarkably muscular, even casually know some who've competed as bodybuilders. They look much more muscular when at low bodyweight, little subcutaneous fat layer, and right after a workout (pumped). Walking around in cute clothes, at weights above competition weight, not after a workout, they mostly look "toned".

    Most important for someone like you is what I said first: Muscle gain doesn't happen overnight. It's slow. You don't wake up one morning and - poof! - bulky. You gradually get stronger, maybe eventually slowly add muscle . . . and when you reach a point you like, you stop pushing for gains, work instead to maintain the look you like.

    For women, it tends to take a lot of time and work (without those PEDs, especially) to gain muscle mass. Personally, I wish it were easier to get bulky.

    As Wolfman said, standard Crossfit tends not to be the most optimal method, if mass gain or a "bulky" look is what's desired.
  • ecjim
    ecjim Posts: 959 Member
    You won't get huge bulky muscles overnight - it takes years of hard work and much food
  • zebasschick
    zebasschick Posts: 452 Member
    edited February 9
    the bulky woman in your class - assuming the bulk is muscle - is probably putting in a lot more time on resistance training than just cross fit.

    when i was bodybuilding (5' 3" woman here), it took me years of heavy training to gain muscle in my arms, shoulder, back and chest.
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,964 Member
    edited February 10
    Probably not. It takes a lot of work and effort to get "bulky" so I wouldn't worry about it. That woman you know probably wants to look like that.
  • myempire
    myempire Posts: 10 Member
    And what if you do? You’ll be strong and beautiful. Muscles are damn sexier and more useful than a skinny waist or extra body fat.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,187 Member
    If you progressively eat to bulk and progressively overload on your weight training, you may add on more muscle. But putting on muscle takes quite some time. And it has to be on purpose and not accidental.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 797 Member
    I agree with everyone else, as a woman who put on a lot of muscle and who puts on muscle shockingly easily *for a woman*, even I would never worry about getting too bulky from normal exercise.

    Even though it was relatively easy for me to gain muscle, it still took an enormous amount of work to gain what I did, and even then, I never looked too bulky.

    Hell, even a lot of men have a hard time putting on enough muscle to look bulky. My husband diligently lifts weights every day and he's never been bulky.

    If this woman looks bulky from large muscle mass she's some combo of insanely dedicated, genetically gifted in muscle development, taking steroids (MUCH more common among woman than people realize), or all of the above.

    And even then, the dedication needed to get bulky for a woman, even with steroids, is massive. A lot of the trim, lean fitspo models you see are resorting to taking steroids just to be able to get those huge glutes that are in style that are otherwise quite difficult to build, that's how hard it is for many women to build muscle bulk.

    So no, no woman in the world ever accidentally got too bulky unless she had a weird mutation like this muscle pigs. You don't need to worry about it.

    Just enjoy your workout.