Plant Based Weight Training – Bulky or Lean

Especially with women, lifting weights is a topic that seems to always be up for debate. One camp will state their opinions against the concept of lifting weights while the other camp will state all the facts and statistics proving their argument valid. Either way, whether or not lifting weights should be a part of your daily regimen depends on what you are aiming for.

If you are looking to build resistance and strength and boost your agility and athletic capacity, weight lifting might be just the right fit for you. But wait a minute, what about if you are weightlifting as a vegan? Does this affect your muscle mass buildup and the potential to shred your stubborn fat?  The answer, you shall soon find out. 

Vegan fitness means doing everything in the gym but instead of feeding your body a meat-heavy animal-protein-loaded meal, you nourish your body with a vegan and plant-based diet. And with this, comes the common misconception; ‘Won’t cutting out meat from my diet weaken my muscles?’ The answer is: No. Meat has high amounts of protein, but that protein also comes with a high amount of cholesterol and fats. If you’re new to adapting a plant based diet then it will take some time developing what plant based proteins you should be switching out for the prior animal based proteins.

In the beginning, you will stumble. You will not know what to eat, and when. You will not understand how your body will adapt to the new protein and energy sources. You may start feeling bloated, due to the amount of fiber your body is now consuming. We are here to tell you that it is completely normal and that your body is going through what is known as a ‘transitional phase’, where it is slowly adapting to a lifestyle that is devoid of any animal products.

So, can you lift weights on a vegan diet and not get bulky? Let’s find out! 

Lifting weights will help you burn more calories

For those who hesitate to pick up light-weighted weights in the fear of packing on muscles like some jacked-up Marvel superhero, let me ease your worries because that’s not going to happen. Becoming bulky and ripped requires years of training and consuming hefty caloric meals and snacks throughout the day to end up with that sort of physique. 

With bulky foods such as fatty cuts of meat, cheese, eggs, and milk out of the picture, your body is depending solely on a healthy supply of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as avocados, olives, almonds and cashews and not to mention wholesome carbs such as quinoa, bulgur, brown rice and spelt. This leads to your body leaning out rather than bulking up and is perfect for those individuals who are aiming for toned, sculpted yet slender bodies. 

Also, lifting weights increases your chances of building lean body mass, which means your body burns stubborn fat faster than if you were to simple cardio. The leaner the muscle, the more calories you will be shedding off even when you are done with your workout! 

Size doesn’t matter 

In some cases, size does matter, such as a generous serving of vegan burgers and curly fries, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Many women tend to feel lifting weights will make them end up looking like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger doppelganger – and is the exact reason why they fear the thought of lifting weights. 

What if we told you that with lifting weights you won’t get bigger, but rather, get you in really good shape? What if we were to say that lifting weights will help you rock that swimsuit you have planned to wear on your trip to Ibiza? Believe it or not, lifting weights does indeed shape your body and get rid of those pesky jiggles. 

Cardio helps you lose weight, yes, but it also leaves your body loose and wobbly; whereas lifting weights tightens your core muscles, increases you in physical and mental strength and burns off every dough-like bulge on your body that has been ruining your confidence lately.

Looking for tight abs and defined arms? Hammer curls and triceps pushdowns are the answer to shedding off fat from those stubborn fat-packed arms. Or how about getting rid of inner thigh fat that won’t budge no matter how much you run on the treadmill, that’s right, doing weighted pile squats to target the inner-thigh area.

What some women don’t understand is, it takes more than just picking a bulky set of weights to end up looking like the Hulk. You would have to supplement your body with anabolic steroids, eat like a sumo wrestler, and invest multiple hours at the gym to look like a beef-cake. Having said that, you may now relax at knowing that you won’t turn into a bulky bodyweight champion overnight. 

And not to forget, women don’t have the same testosterone level as men to buildup massive muscle mass, to begin with. Unless again, you are taking testosterone supplements, it is genetically impossible for a female to gain an insane amount of muscle mass. So again, you are not going to look like a bulky MMA fighter.

Check out this awesome video by Toni Mitchell, a weightlifter-enthusiast who shares what she eats in a day as a vegan: 

Bulk eating = bulky body 

Ever heard of the term ‘cutting’? This refers to people who ‘cut’ down on their calorie consumption to shed off a few pounds for that extra shredded look. This can be both men and women who are feeling pudgier than normal and can really use a reduction of a few extra pounds to feeling better about themselves again. 

Gaining muscle is a combination of heavy weightlifting and eating an excess amount of calories. If your goal is to pack on a lot of size as a result of your weight training sessions, you would have to train heavy and eat several mid-sized meals and snacks throughout the day to bulk up your muscle mass. However, is your goal to have a healthy and lean look, you can accomplish this by strength training 3-4 times a week with a healthy and balanced vegan diet. Your body will experience a lean and toned exterior as opposed to looking big and chunky. 

Since muscle does weigh heavier than fat, the initial weight gain from lifting weights will be an indicator that you are gaining muscle and not fat. This is the moment where women start to panic but it is only your body growing stronger in terms of muscle density, which renders it useful in the long run – as we mentioned earlier, the more lean muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.

As a plant based coach, it is all about understanding the goals of the individual and designing a training program and plant based meal plan around their needs. If the goal is to bulk up, that can be accomplished lifting weights. If the goal is to look health and lean, that can also be accomplished lifting weights. 

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