Crushing the Myth About Heavy Weight Training

One of the most commonly heard myths about lifting heavy weights is that you will get big.

You will NOT get big, bulky muscles from heavy weight training.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, lets get deeper into dispelling this myth.  It’s got to go.  Lifting heavy weight does build muscle.  But lifting, alone, will not make you into the next Mr. Olympia.  Lifting heavy will create power, and power is extremely important for climbers.  We want as much power as we can get, without becoming excessively heavy and bulky.

I once believed this myth.  When I first worked with a trainer, I told him I was a climber and wanted to stay very lean.  He agreed, but wanted me to build power by lifting heavy weight.  I argued that lifting heavy weight would make me too bulky.  He told me this was totally backwards.  Lifting heavy would build muscle and burn fat.  Muscle is more dense than fat, therefore if I remained the same weight, I would actually be smaller.  For the same weight, fat will take more space.

I agreed to try his method, but very reluctantly.  After all, the climbing fitness books say to use light weight when training to avoid getting bulky muscles.  This advice turned out to be untrue and the trainer was 100% correct.

One year ago:  weight = 195 lbs;  body fat % = 13%;  max pull ups = 7

Present day:  weight = 179 lbs;  body fat % = 8%;  max pull ups = 22

In one year I decreased my body fat and increased muscle, but I’m not bulky at all!  I have actually decreased my waist size.  This is not any drastic improvement, but it is given for example.  Need more proof?  See Ross Enamait dead lift 495 lbs. weighing in at ~ 170 lbs.  He is not a huge body builder, instead he is lean and mean with power to spare.

Pretty impressive huh?

So, what will make bulky muscles if lifting heavy weight does not?

Answer:  Nutrition.  Nutrition and diet is the key to monitoring your weight gain or loss and how much fat makes up that weight.  The trainer I spoke about told me to eat clean.  Eat 5-6 smaller meals a day that had lots of lean protein and quality carbohydrates.  This combined with exercise increased my metabolism.  When your metabolism is high, you burn more calories at rest.  Additionally, muscle burns more calories than fat while resting!  I never starve myself or partake in any sort of crash diet.  Consistency is key to steady muscle increase and fat loss.  I assure you, if you lift heavy you will not wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and say “Holy shit!  I’m huge!”

How do bodybuilders get big?  They eat a lot!  Several thousand calories a day.  You would have to eat to the point of discomfort to obtain those results.  Combine that with heavy supplementation and you will get big.

And a word to all you female climbers, you have even less to worry about than men when it comes to “getting big”.  The female body’s lower testosterone level simply prevents women from getting overly big and muscular.  Those bodybuilding women you see on magazine covers have supplemented heavy.  So get out there and hit the weight hard!

Fellow climbers, start lifting with heavy weight.  I promise you will not regret having extra strength and power when you hit the crux.

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