Monday, June 14, 2010

Bulky Muscles, The Myth and the Facts.....inspired by a request for a guest blogpost

I was asked to write a guest blogpost from Haley Estes, and more about her and her blog.....

Bulky Muscles. The myth and the facts.

Before I even get into this subject......are you serious? "Gee, I dont want to get big muscles....I'd rather stay the way I look right now than look too mus-cl-ey....yuck!"


Muscle is easy to "build".

Don't ain't easy to bulid muscle! It's hard to build alot of good quality, solid muscle. It takes intensity, loading, consistency (year after year), a high quality diet (yep, try that for any length of time!), and recovery, to actually build real muscle....sorry! Now you want some muscle don't you!

I think alot of women see pictures of women bodybuilders and think they look like men. Well, I think most would be surprised to see a "regular woman" stand next to one of these "huge" women bodybuilders....guess what? Competitive women bodybuilders weigh about 135-140lbs, with around 12% bodyfat....that's 123lbs of lean mass. They may look huge, but in reality they're tiny compared to an average American woman these days Competitive woman bodybuilders, and athletes, pack alot of muscle density into small package.


Do you know that the average weight of an American woman age 20-74 years is 164lbs? 35% bodyfat at that weight is 57.4 lbs. That leaves only 107lbs of lean body mass....and guess what? It is my opinion that the average American woman is 40-50 % + (yep, 50% PLUS) bodyfat....don't believe me? Step on a bodyfat scale and be horrified....especially if you weigh more than the average 164lbs....expect to see 50% + bodyfat! No joke.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

So, let's just drop this fear of becoming too muscular....give the women bodybuilders and the competitive woman athletes the respect they deserve. Real muscle and fitness comes from hard, consistent, year after year, dedication to training and sport....period. A few bicep curls won't turn you into the Amazing Hulk.

Let's be honest. What do most people, not just woman, want from exercise these days? What are the improvements, or changes they want to see? And feel? Most people want, #1 to lose weight. #2 build muscle tone. #3 not get injured. Oh yes, and let's not forget they want it as fast as possible, LOL!

#1 Lose weight. Stop eating so much. Or, eat different foods. Or both. When people ask me how I lost over 100lbs my favorite answer is, "I stopped doing what was making me fat!". What was making me fat? Overeating. I knew what was making me fat, and it was OK, until it wasn't OK anymore, and then I changed it.

I stopped eating ready made and / or convenience foods, and instead prepared all, yep, all, of my own foods, and meals, not eating "out" for over 2 years. Even now I only eat out reluctantly...I hate eating out, even more, I hate paying for foods that are no where near the quality of the foods and meals I make at home for myself. Let me follow up this claim by letting you know that I consider cooking and food my #2 hobby (training is my #1), and love anything and everything that has to do with cooking and preparing my own homemade foods.

#2 Muscle tone. Definition, firmness, tension in the muscle that gives it shape by separating each muscle from the other, giving depth to the look of our muscles...."muscle tone". Muscle tone equals tension, equals strength. To increase any of one of these, increase the other. If you want better tone, you get stronger. If you want to get stronger, increase your tone, If you want to increase tone, increase the tension in your exercise. Increase tension, increase your tone. (...add weight)

Enter the Kettlebell.

#3 & #4 Safe and Quickly. There is, at no time, in a kettlebell swing or snatch that the muscles arent working, in one way or another. They're either producing, reducing, or reversing force. In every position of the KB swing and snatch all of the muscles in the body are working...which means, all of the muscles are creating tension. Tension equals tone. Because the KB uses excelleration and momentum, the forces on the muscles are much higher than any other exercise, especially for the average person. The average person using only a 16kg KB can create 10 times the load on their muscels during every rep....

Do the math. This result equals more work than the average person can do in any other way. Burn more calories, build more muscle (tone), burn more fat, and create more fuctional strength, than any other exercise done in the same amount of time...I think I'll go out and do a few swings.....and bulid the best cardio of my life.

"The size of my body is determined by tht amount and quality of the foods I eat. The composition of my body, lean muscle mass to bodyfat, is determined by the my kettlebell training."

Posted here are two pictures of me taken about 3 years apart. The first picture taken, and featured in Dragon Doors Vitalics Magazine,, was taken 11 months after I weighed in at 250lb +, and losing about 100lbs. I was extremely proud of my "muscletone" at the time, as I thought, at the age of 41, the days of wearing a tank top was over......and that was fine. The miracle? The kettlebell, and the method I developed to train high volume KB swings.....toned arms, not to mention, along with a quality diet, 17-19% BF.

3 years later.....I can't seem to get enough! I like being "beefy"! Clearly muscular, and, although not "skinny", more fit than most woman my age, in fact I'm more fit than most woman half of my age.... I can do anything, physically, that I put my mind to. "Bulky Muscles?" Bring them on! I currently weigh about 140lbs with 28% BF...would I like it to be lower? Yes, but I can't seem to sacrifice any part of my good life, eating, and drinking, all of the things I love most.

I'm not going to lie and tell anyone that I don't want to be skinny...but being skinny has it's price. Deprivation, struggle, and low self esteem. I will not settle for any of that. I am where I am, and it's OK. In fact it's more than OK, because I rock!


About Haley Estes and her blog, in her own words.....

"I was introduced to kettlebells by my husband when we 1st met a few years ago. I worked out with them, but I really got serious about it in order to prepare for the HKC course last January. Since then I have lost about 25 lbs. and dropped my body fat percentage. However, my endurance has always been my weakest link in my training, and that's what got me interested in your blog and your workout style. I'm training for the RKC in October, and wanted to incorporate high volume training into my workout to prepare.
I asked you for a guest blog because I thought you would be a great example for women who think they can't lift weights without getting bulky. I hear friends and potential clients say "I don’t lift weights because I don't want to get big and bulky", but they don't understand how hard it is for women to build that kind of muscle. So instead, they spend hours on the treadmill, not getting the results they want. I hope that reading your story will serve as inspiration to them and maybe help clear up some of the misconceptions they have about weight training.


The information in this post would never have been possible without the input, and expertise of Master Instructor, my husband, and love of my life, training partner, coach, and teacher, Mark Reifkind. Anything I know, I've learned from him, and the example he set for me to want to be all that I could be. Without his support and guidance I'm nothing....well, maybe not nothing, but I give credit where credit is due.....


Anonymous said...
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Haley said...

Thank you for taking the time to write the guest post for me!! You and Mark are awesome! :)

Tyciol said...

I see in the pic that there's also some clubbells in your gym, cool selection.

Tracy Reifkind said...


you not only inspired me (and Mark) but this blogpost had many supporters and positive comments on DD!

You'll have to write a guest blogpost for me now!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Mark trains Clubbells, and when I have the time...I mean, when I MAKE the time....I would love to incorporate it into my workouts.

The problem at this time is that I teach KB's so much (6 days a week), and my own yoga practice (also 6-7 practices a week), I can't do everthing!

I have high respect for Clubbell training.

Haley said...

The responses have been great. If you want a guest post, just say the word. I will see what I can come up with!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I'd be interested in reading what lead you to the HKC, (and your HKC experience), and then at what point did the you decide to take it a step further for your RKC. Lastly, what do you hope to do with those letters after your name!


again, no rush, just whenever you find the time and inspiration to write.....

Haley said...

Sure! I have decided to postpone my RKC because of some family things that have happened and how it impacted me. I'll be writing a post on it, but I haven't decided if I'm going to give it some time before I put it up.