Will CrossFit make me bulky?

CrossFit doesn’t make you bulky. Unless you want it to.

Building muscle is hard work. By hard I mean one of the hardest things you may ever do. There is also a genetic component as well that either works in your favor or it doesn't. Some people gain muscle mass a little more easily than others but they are not going to get bulky without a lot of work.

This is the work you’d have to do to get bulky doing CrossFit or any other workout.

Lift Heavy Objects Often

The root of CrossFit is variance. A normal CrossFit fitness plan only has you lifting heavy an average of once a week. This is enough to increase strength but doesn’t neglect the many other aspects of fitness. We call this Classic CrossFit.

To get bulky doing CrossFit you’d have to start doing multiple workouts 4-5 days a week and lift heavy during one session a day. I’m not talking about heavy bicep curls either. These would be heavy compound movements that overload the central nervous system. Lifts like the deadlift, squat, clean and jerk and yoke carries.

Eat a Caloric Surplus

The muscles in the body need fuel to grow. Generally the diet recommended by most CrossFit gyms is to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar. Eat enough to support your activity level but not excess body fat.

The keeping intake levels low enough to keep body fat down will also keep your muscles from having the excess fuel they need to grow really large. Eating as much as you’d need to get bulky is often just as hard as the heavy lifting. You can’t just eat anything you’d like either. You have to follow a pretty healthy diet but just eat a lot of food. Try eating 4000+ calories a day of chicken and rice. That's a lot of work.

My CrossFit Experience

When I first started CrossFit I lost most of my body fat and have since then been trying to add some muscle mass without compromising my overall fitness. I typically only do one workout a day, five days a week. I also have genetics going against me, being tall and slim happens. I’m 6’4” 195 lb and it has taken four years to put on about 5 lbs of muscle.

Before CrossFit

Before CrossFit

After a few months of CrossFit

After a few months of CrossFit

Afters several years of CrossFit

Afters several years of CrossFit

Your Feelings May Change

One thing I’ve noticed is that even the people that most adamantly do not want to get bulky often change their minds after a few months. Not that they actively want to get bulky but because of their new found strength and fitness they appreciate their hard earned muscles. Not for how they look but for what it means about their level of fitness. The muscles become a badge of honor. Their muscles say, “I’m strong and here’s my proof.”

Now go live better.