“Does CrossFit make you bulky?” I usually get this question about two seconds after someone asks me, “You do CrossFit?” I fully understand that I don’t look like a Dottir. I don’t have super-ripped muscles. I’m still shopping on the smaller size of the clothing rack.
As of today, I’ve been CrossFitting for two years. On July 31, 2015, I participated in my first WOD at Clear Lake CrossFit and almost immediately committed to a new life. On January 30, 2017, I went all-in on nutrition, eliminating artificial sugar, animal fats, and overly processed foods. As I’ve said in previous posts, there is not a single person who would look at me and call me “bulky.” Fit, yes – I got labeled that yesterday. But not bulky.
In two years, I’ve seen some amazing changes in my body. I’ve lost body fat and gained muscle, which looks really good in clothes. (Unless I’m shopping for pants, but I’d rather have strong legs than fit into Forever 21 skinny jeans.) I’m stronger now; those big bags of cat litter and charcoal get swung into the back of my SUV easily. Getting my luggage into the overhead compartment when I travel is not a problem at all (unless the overhead compartment is really high up). There have been downsides; the jeans, for example. But overall I feel like I look amazing.
I’ve had a huge boost in confidence in the past two years. This past year, I dealt with some things that I’m not going to discuss. Suffice it to say that going to CrossFit and picking up the bar did wonders for my mood. When I left after a tough WOD, I felt invincible.
The short answer to “does CrossFit make you bulky?” is a resounding NO. Women don’t build crazy muscle like Games athletes unless they work out like it’s their job (and eat like it’s their job, and sleep like it’s their job – in other words, most of us have actual jobs and work out to stay healthy). For the rest of us, and in my own experience, it’s meant feeling stronger and more energetic. It’s been feeling confident in my own skin and viewing my body for what it can do, not how it looks (although admittedly how it looks is a bonus).
So what CrossFit actually does for your body (if you’re a woman) is make you stronger. It counteracts all the sitting you likely do at a desk job. It gives you a strong core, strong legs, and strong arms. It introduces you to a way of life where you’re thinking about what your body can do rather than how it looks. The numbers that matter are the number of pull-ups you can do or the percentage of weight on the bar in relation to your body weight. But unless you’re slamming protein shakes and creatine and sleeping on a cot in the back of the box between lifting sessions, you’re not going to get bulky. Promise.