Female Athletes: There’s Nothing Wrong With “Bulky”

Female Athletes: There’s Nothing Wrong With “Bulky”

I’m going to get right to the point: everyone needs to cut it out with the “I don’t want to get too bulky” shenanigans.

Female athletes, especially, utter these words upon entering my facility, and I’m quick to shoot it down.


I have a problem with it because “getting too bulky” isn’t possible for most female athletes, and if it does happen, it shouldn’t be illuminated as a negative thing. Moreover, your definition of bulky is different than your neighbor’s.

When girls lift weights, physiological changes happen based on each individual. Not everyone will be a petite, lean athlete. Not everyone will be a packed-with-muscle athlete. And some people will fall in between these extremes.

Again, everyone is their own person, and “bulky” is unique to each female athlete.

Expounding further, “bulky” means you have muscle. You have strength. You have power. You have athleticism.

Why does the connotation of it have to be negative? Why do we fear muscle building as female athletes?

The last I looked, your sport requires you to run at high velocities, withstand tremendous forces, change direction quickly, overcome fatigue in the final minutes, and shoot, throw, and jump with power.

Wouldn’t you rather be strong, than weak?

I get muscles popping out of your biceps is new.

I get you can’t fit into your jeans anymore.

I get your glutes look like the peach emoji.

But let me ask you this? Are you a stronger, faster, more powerful and resilient athlete?


And let me also ask you this: what other elite female athletes are bulky in their own way, yet own the crap out of it?

Lindsey Vonn is bulky.
Alex Morgan is bulky.
Serena Williams is bulky.
Abby Wambach is bulky.
Gabby Douglas is bulky.
WonderWoman is bulky.
I’m bulky.

In fact, my guy friends think I weigh 120 pounds.

HAHAHAHA. That’s cute.

I proudly own my 140 pounds of muscle.

And yo.

Can I outrun the zombies when they finally take over the world?


Can I walk into a room of White Walkers with confidence?

You bet.

Can I deadlift my male colleagues?


Can I step onto the pitch knowing I’ll run over my opponents with ease?

Heck yes.

For me, “bulky” has boded well, and my best assets are my muscles. Truthfully, I’d rather have more muscles than not enough. Wouldn’t you?

Sure, everyone will store fat, build muscle, and be “bulky” in their own way and that is okay. Serena Williams, for example, is a muscle powerhouse compared to most female tennis players, and has been berated for her size, but hey. Hasn’t it worked for her?

Yeah. Thought so. ;-O

So instead of worrying about getting too muscular, evaluate if you feel good about yourself and if your athletic performance has improved. Chances are, you feel amazing and your speed, power and confidence are skyrocketing.

Bulky is empowering.

It’s strength, uniqueness, confidence, athleticism, resilience, and being able to approach your sport and life with tenacity.

It’s being able to work hard for something that means something to you.

It’s being able to feel secure in your body and its ability to be resilient in the demands of your sport.

With that said, it’s time to make bulky sexy again. Go lift some weights and get under a barbell.

  • Mike Peters
    Posted at 22:31h, 28 April Reply

    Thank you for a great blog! I have pulled my hair out (that’s why I’m bald) having this discussion with my female athletes! Every female athlete I work with will read this!

    • erica
      Posted at 00:58h, 29 April Reply

      Mike, thank you for passing along! 🙂

  • Bob Gentilli
    Posted at 12:31h, 29 April Reply

    Great article! I coach HS soccer and girls will often ask that when we condition/strength. Unless, we are teaching them wrong or they want to be body builders, it won’t happen.

    • erica
      Posted at 13:47h, 29 April Reply

      Bob, wonderful! Keep inspiring them. They need you! 🙂

  • Links am Sonntag, 5.5.2019 – Eigenerweg
    Posted at 19:40h, 05 May Reply

    […] wieder einmal erwähnen Frauen, dass sie nicht zu massig (“bulky”) werden möchten. Erica Suter hat einen tollen Artikel zu diesem Thema […]

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