You know it’s funny, I’ve been asked this questions several times, but I haven’t ever actually answered it on here, at least I don't believe I have. The short answer to this is, no. The longer answer is...hell no it's not that simple. If it was that easy then every person that’s lifted weight for longer than a few months would be able to get yuuuge, would not be the worst thing necessarily either. There’s so much more that goes into bulking up, especially in terms of what most people are thinking when they say this, like a body builder or physique competitor.
You have to train, very consistently, and nutrition has to be very dialed in, we're talking level 3 of 3 that most people can only sustain for a few months at a time. I’m not saying that these are bad things at all mind you, those that are striving for this “bulky” look, put in a TON of work. Whereas, your every day trainee, like the ones many coaches work with, they’re putting in plenty of work, not diminishing that here, but it’s not the same type of goals in mind either. As a comparison eating properly for some of these people is THE biggest challenge they face in terms of seeing results. With that, the advice given to help them form eating habits, starts small and easy (Level 1), and progresses to the more advanced and challenging overtime (Level 2 or 3). So, in the first 6 months you start weight training, it’s not likely you see massive gains (or gainz!) in size, but if you’re doing your homework, it’s likely you’ll be pretty damn happy with the results.
Let’s also consider this, in order to put on that bulky muscle that many people get themselves concerned with, you’re probably looking at high reps with moderately heavy weights as well as some isolation exercise that require loads of stress & tension and potentially multiple training sessions a day with optimal recovery. Much of the programming I do with my clients, the leading exercises are going to be lower-ish reps with heavier weights, relative to their strength and abilities. THAT right there, is what’s going to get the “toned” look that many, particularly women, are seeking. It’s not an easy truth for them to hear, but it is the truth. Tricep kickbacks and the like are the candy, heavy squats and deadlifts are your proteins and veggies.
Final note on this, the mass media pushes many to strive to be skinny, less, and those who aren't a size 0, have less value than those that are. Who in the heck really wants to be so skinny and frail to the point where a strong wind knocks you over? I mean if that IS your goal, good luck, with that and I hope you achieve it, but I, and many other coaches smarter than myself, am probably not the person to see for that. I think the thing most people in general are seeking when they start working out and start training is confidence and feeling good in their own skin. Get your hands on a bar, a heavy kettlebell or heavy set of dumbbells (relative to your strength of course) and with some guidance, watch what your body can do. I’ve lost count of the number of people that weight train that end up with more confidence, less pain and less long term health issues. It also probably helps that being able to pick up that case of water for yourself, instead of waiting for a good samaritan to walk by.
Hopefully those of you that lift, and know the benefit of lifting, have found this to be something to prepare you for that awkward comment or questions, and for those that aren't entirely convinced, perhaps I've at least intrigued you to start a conversation about resistance training. Now, pick up something heavy and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS