How to Tighten and Tone Without Bulking Up

Posted on September 30th, 2017 at 6:11 am by


Not all of us go to the gym with the goal of bulking up in mind.  For many of us, a workout is more about losing weight and keeping fit than it is about sculpting huge muscles.  Adding weight and resistance training to your workout routine can help to keep your muscles well-defined and strong, but some athletes are concerned that lifting weights might add unwanted bulk to their frame. Fortunately, there are several things that gym goers can do during their workout to avoid packing on excess muscle mass.

Choose the Right Exercises

Not all weight lifting exercises encourage the development of lean muscle over bulk.  When planning out your routine, avoiding certain exercises can help you to avoid packing on too much muscle mass.  You should avoid any lifts using heavy weights, and avoid workouts such as Crossfit and sprinting techniques, as these are designed to increase the mass of leg muscles.  Squats and chin-ups, while an effective form of strength training, also tend to build muscle mass more quickly than other exercises. 

Although it may take longer to see results, gentle strength training exercises are often the best for building lean muscle.  Yoga and Pilates can help you to lose weight while toning muscles, as can swimming.  If you want to work out with a partner, boxing offers both aerobic benefits and tones the muscles of your upper body.

Moderate Your Weight Load

Lifting heavy weights make your body build larger muscles more quickly than sticking with smaller weights. In order to avoid adding too much bulk, it’s important to use lighter weights with more reps.  Stick to dumbbells, ankle weights, and resistance bands that are less than ten or twenty pounds.   For exercises that utilize body weight, avoid any stances that place the majority of your weight on a single set of muscles.

Watch What You Eat

Your workout isn’t the only thing that you have to be aware of when trying to build lean muscle.  Your diet can also affect how much mass you gain, regardless of how well-planned your exercise routine is.  A high-calorie diet makes it more likely that you’ll add unwanted muscle mass to your frame, particularly if you consume high levels of protein.  Eating a balanced diet can prevent you from bulking up too much.  While you should avoid eating too many calories per day, however, it’s important to eat enough to support healthy functioning.  Be sure to include plenty of natural carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy plant fats. 

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