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Every time I start working out I gain weight. I know that muscle weighs more than fat and that my appetite increases, however it seems disproportionate. I want to keep working out, but I don't want to get any bigger, what can I do? — Rachel, CA

Richard Cotton



About ten percent of women do gain significantly more muscle weight when they work out, especially when they strength train.  In order to avoid gaining muscle bulk you can try keeping your strength training reps in the 15 to 20 range and vary your aerobic activities so you aren't repeatedly working the same muscle groups.  Eight to 12 rep muscular strength sets are the fastest way to gain muscle bulk, as well as always working the same muscle groups during your aerobic activity.


You can keep tabs on muscle weight gain by comparing changes in your body weight to changes in specific skinfold thickness (like hip and back of your arm).  If you are gaining muscle weight your body weight may either increase or stay the same, while the skinfold thickness decreases.  A trainer at your gym can help you with this.  Also, you will need to satisfy your increased appetite, just make sure you donít do it with calorie-dense foods containing higher fat or sugar content.

About Richard Cotton

Richard T. Cotton is the chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Richard oversees the ACE's studies and evaluations on fitness products and serves as the ACE's media spokesperson for these studies and other health and fitness issues. He has written numerous articles on health and fitness-related topics such as the importance of certification and safe and effective exercise techniques.

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