T Nation

What Women Consider Bulky


I've been a trainer for a long time and I knew things were bad but not this bad!


Do you guys and girls agree that this is what women really think?

Please tell me it ain't so!


Who really cares? Women don't know what they like and want, how can you figure it out.

If you have a decent personality and are self confident and not physically deformed, you'll find a gal.


According to that poll, 2/3 of women exercise 3+ times per week and they don't want to look like Jessica Biehl. True on both counts, I'm sure.


I love when a woman is toned, but then you have her usually fat friends saying how she's all "manish" so that they can feel better about themselves. Don't even get me started -lol.



Or how any gal in shape is to skinny or a skank?


Err....Thanks for the advice!


It just amazes me what these women consider to be bulky.

More would rather be too fat than too muscular! Where did this ridiculous notion come from?

I guess I'd better start prescribing 4 hours of endurance training along with a 500 calorie/day diet for my female clients then.



No, that's pretty true, in my experience. Most women exercise to be thinner, not for any other reason. I feel like a goddamn buffalo in my gym. It's a little troubling because it's tied up with other things -- did you see that Outback Jack video? "We don't like competition. We like shopping." Those are supposed to be the normal women. Good grief.

The "exercise won't make you bulky" party line isn't exactly true. If you don't want legs any bigger than Gwyneth Paltrow's, then yes, squatting heavy will make you bigger than you want to be. What you need is endless cardio and no food, which is exactly what many of the girls around me do.

I can live with not being conventionally pretty, because I get a lot of satisfaction out of pushing myself in the gym. But not everybody thinks that way.


AlisaV, you are not a buffalo. You look great!


Thanks. But I wasn't compliment fishing -- the point is that ideals are a lot different in the wider world than on a bodybuilding forum. I'm all for women being less wimpy, to the extent that it's possible to encourage that.


Get your nose out of her ass ds...

Anyways, what was I saying, oh yea, I think it's like this: at one point every woman looks at a Jessica Biel and thinks "I want to look like that!" then they set out to look like that ..... for a week. And then they realize that it's interfering with their manicures and downtown bar foo foo umbrella appletini time and don't have to will dedication to achieve what they had set out to do.

It's like the fox and grapes fable. Sour Grapes. The fox sees the grapes on the vine and is thirsty. He tries and tries and tries to get get the grapes to quench his thirst but they're out of reach, so, he gives up and says, "Well they looked like they would be sour anyways," as he walks away to look for something easier.


I can relate to what you are saying Alisa (and no you are not a buffalo!) That is how many women think, but on the other hand a lot of women compliment me on my arms and legs and ask me what I'm doing. Their eyes glaze over when I start to tell them though! I am self-conscious about my arms these days but I don't think I actually need to be.

Mind you I'm sure there are regional differences in what's socially acceptable or desirable and I'm in a region that is big on fitness. When I visited my family back east recently I stood out a lot more and got more negative remarks. But that's also because the women in my family are catty bitches lol.




True. He did say that. But he didn't say ANYWAYS. It was ANYWAY.


Where are you living now, Debra?

My wife and I grew up in the southeast and have come to the conclusion that we are ready to move away from the land of fried food and rocking porches. We think we have settled on the Denver area.

I am not surprised by the results of that poll. I don't agree with what the mainstream considers bulky, but that doesn't surprise me, either. I think Alisa is right...we have to remember that we, as a physical training-minded community, are a very small percentage of the population. I know that my opinion of too bulky has changed since finding TN and FA. I was always into fit chicks, but now find my tastes prefer a woman with a bit more muscle than what I used to think was ideal.

And it's not just the aesthetics of the added muscle it's also my appreciation of a woman who can do more. Run faster, lift heavier, jump higher, sweat it out longer, etc. But all of that has come about as I've gotten deeper into this community. Fortunately for me my wife has embraced this lifestyle herself and embodies all of those things I describe.

But I guess my point is that it doesn't surprise me that your average person who hasn't been exposed to any of this and doesn't live this lifestyle themselves would have a far different opinion of what is ideal.

And from a trainer's point of view, as both the OP and the author of the article are trainers, I think the take away is that you need to really be communicating with your female clients on what their goals are and what they think is ideal since there is obviously some confusion as to what exactly "bulky" means.


There is too much irony in this topic. Alot of the time, you show a pic of a woman who lifts weights and eat properly to other out of shape women, and you get a reaction of "I want to look like that." Then they find out that this fit tone woman lifts heavy, doing "manly" lifts like deadlifts, chins, presses, and their attitude changes.

I think it's the persona of a woman lifting heavy because it might not be seen as proper for women to lift heavy. It's not "womanly" to grab heavy iron, grunt, and sweat. It's bullshit is what it is.

Also remember that the average American is an obese cow, or likely close. So for them, seeing a gym or anything close to it is like seeing a small town in Afghanistan, it's like a whole other world. Look around you at work, school, or wherever you are outside of the gym. Most people are grossly out of shape, this is what people here are used to. Over-fatness is the norm.

It all comes down to personal tastes too. Some people prefer a little chub over someone who is rail thin. On a side note, Jessica Alba had some post child birth pics photoshopped to help her look a little more in shape, to which she took offense to. The media does have an influence on our perception.

I thought Jessica Biel looked delicious in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry." But because she has taken roles like the one in Blade 3, where she bulked and leaned out, making her appear muscled up, it only adds to her muscled up image.

Something that the survey didn't ask was, what type of body did men find most attractive. I can tell you one thing, Jessica Biel would not be ranked so low, she did manage to nab the attention of many of the guys here, along with Justin Timberlake.


I think they asked the wrong question in those surveys, it should've asked of women - would you like a body like Jessica Beil's?

I'm having a hard time believing that would get less than 50% yes. Though as soon as they are told what they have to do to get that body, then they don't want to do that.


Geez, I can't give an honest compliment? It's not like I'm trying to get a date here, I've already got a wife. Try living in western NY surrounded by mainly fat, out of shape people who think pizza, wings and beer is a complete meal. It's refreshing to see a woman with some muscles.

There's a woman at my gym who's a natural body builder. While she's probably more muscular than most women want to be, she still doesn't look bulky because she's so lean.

I wonder how much of it is just not understanding the nutrition aspect? For example, most of my early days lifting I put on fat as well as muscle, but I'm a guy so "bulky" is ok. However, now I understand the importance of nutrition and expect to be leaner as I add weight because of how I'm eating.

Same thing for women. They start lifting, but without proper knowledge of nutrition, they either add muscle and fat or don't lose enough of the fat on top of the muscles so they see themselves as "bulky" when they really just need to get their nutrition dialed in.

I would hypothesize that the nutrition aspect of looking lean is even more difficult for people to accept than the idea of lifting heavy weights.


Just bustin' your chops dude...


What's having a wife have to do with anything???? come on man it's 2009, I know it's a recession but people still have affairs. Shell out compliments to as many women as possible.

Alisa you are one fine ass buffalo.

People on here seem to be lying to themselves, the look of muscles with extremely low bodyfat has never been what the majority has considered sexy. People just confuse the not muscular look with being aneroxically skinny, which is worse or equally unatrractive. Truth is for the most part people are just attracted physically to youth, in both men and women. This is why high fashion models tend to be in low age bracket. At a young age people can maintain a lean bodyfat% without looking too musclular. Hence Jessica Alba who is close to the youngest on that list was the one everyone was most attracted to. Problem is she will have to gain some muscularity to maintain sexyness as she gets older. Not alot but some.

They put a pretty tough list up, I mean how many people get to choose between Jessica Beil and Jessica Alba? I can't remember the last time I had that choice. Of course it's going to make Jessica beil look bad. How come they didn't have everyone choose between Rosanne Bar and Jessica Beil?