The Fear of Bulking: A Scientific and Personal Exploration

“I don’t want to bulk up.” I hear it all the time. Could this fear be keeping us from doing the exercises that will help us achieve the slim, toned body we dream of?

Now, science proves higher resistance with fewer reps does not produce “bulk” and actually burns more calories and boosts metabolism more than lower resistance with higher reps. In a New York Times article, science writer Anahad O’Connor writes that producing bulky muscles requires exceptionally high calorie consumption, much over 2000 a day. He cites three studies, one where one group of female subjects lifted weights at 85% of their ability 8 times and the other group, 45% 15 times. The group of women lifting heavier weight burned more calories performing the exercise and had higher metabolic rates than the group lifting lighter weights.

On a personal note, I was in a quest to challenge my fitness level and test the notion that heavy weight= bulk and light weight = slim and ripped, I used myself as a test case for weight lifting. I hired a personal trainer to make sure I was spot on in my workout and began lifting heavy weight. I started with 10 lb bicep curls and eventually worked up to 25 lb. And then I looked at my own results. 4 to 6 weeks after I started lifting heavy weights three times a week, I dropped weight and inches especially off of my mid section. I was shocked at how my body changed almost instantly, especially since I had been practicing and teaching pilates for many years.

The research is in and it’s time to take a look. Hilliard Studio Method is all about innovation, safety, and sculpting our bodies to their most efficient and perfect form. I have seen many of you change before my eyes. Please read the article below for research on heavy vs. light weights.

See the full article here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/health/06real.html

The Claim: For Better Muscle Tone, Go Lighter and Repeat
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR

THE FACTS

Lifting heavy weights makes you big and bulky — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom. It’s the reason many women (and some men) who want slim and “toned” physiques opt for lighter weights, lifted more times.

But the notion is not supported by science. Producing bulky muscles requires not just heavy weights but heavy calorie consumption as well, typically far above the 2,000 daily calories recommended for many adults.

For people who lift weights to tone up and slim down, experts say, a regimen that includes a combination of challenging weights and fewer repetitions can help significantly. In one study, scientists looked at what happened when women performed various resistance exercises at different weights and repetitions (85 percent of their maximum ability for 8 reps, versus 45 percent for 15). Subjects lifting more weight fewer times burned more energy and had a greater metabolic boost after exercise.

In another published study, scientists followed 122 women for six years. They found that those who were assigned to do resistance exercises three times a week — sets of 8 reps at 70 to 80 percent of their ability — lost the most weight and body fat. A similar two-year study of women who did strength training with challenging weight twice weekly, found similar effects on body and “intra-abdominal” fat.

THE BOTTOM LINE

For better tone, try fewer reps and more challenging weights.

ANAHAD O’CONNOR scitimes@nytimes.com

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