While professional bodybuilders strive to obtain extreme muscularity, you might be looking for a far less extreme look. Nevertheless, there is no reason to avoid the weight room. Resistance training will not necessarily lead to bulky muscles, but it is key in obtaining that more mainstream lean and toned look that many people want.
Some bodybuilders have been known to eat over 5,000 calories per day, while gaining significant amounts of fat. Yet, if you are not trying to bulk up, there is no need to gorge yourself with this amount of food. The Idea Health and Fitness Association recommends that you eat 47 calories per kilogram (equal to approximately 2 lbs., 3 ounces) per day to meet muscle-building requirements, which pans out to be around 3,400 calories per day for a 160 lb. man. If your metabolism is on the slower side, you should monitor yourself and consider eating less if you notice fat gains.
Lifting weights will not necessarily make you bulky. In fact, it could even make you leaner. According to the Mayo Clinic, increased muscle mass provides you with a bigger engine with which to burn calories, and this can lead to weight loss. To maximize fat burn from resistance training, limit your time between sets to under one minute.
Doing 30 to 45 minutes of cardio three to four times per week can help you to avoid excess fat gain. Excess fat over your muscles could cause you to appear thicker and add to a bulky appearance. Additionally, performing cardio will improve your muscular definition. This will make your muscles appear more shapely without adding to a bulky appearance.
One factor that could make you appear bulky is water retention under the skin, which could appear to make you look fat. One cause of water retention is dehydration. This happens because the body retains water when it appears that water is not in abundance. The more water you drink, the more water your body will release and the less water you will retain.