This complaint is fairly common. And in 99 times of 100, it’s a case of misplaced blame.
Resistance training can certainly increase muscle mass (obviously), but this is far from a magical and instant process. Men have an advantage here due to higher testosterone levels, and even we have to fight like hell for every pound of muscle growth.
So unless you currently have a slender body type and just have a strong preference for keeping your same exact measurements, the odds of increased muscle being the cause for more ‘bulk’ than you like is very slim (no pun intended – seriously, none).
On the flip side, generally these complaints come from women looking to lose fat. “I’m supposed to be slimming down, but I’m not!”
So, the two most likely scenarios are:
1) You’ve increased muscle size but have not decreased fat mass to an equal or greater degree. This means you’re eating more calories than you are expending. It takes calories to build muscle.
2) You’re actually increasing fat mass too. So the same problem as before, just to a greater degree. The caloric surplus is bigger.
Another situation could technically be that you’re only relying on scale weight rather than looking at measurements as well. But you wouldn’t do that, right? RIGHT?!
Certainly, some people are more genetically gifted (or cursed, depending on perception) at building muscle. This means that, sure, some people might build muscle TOO easily for their personal preferences. Honestly though, this is probably not very common.
More commonly, this complaint/observation is a knee jerk reaction to observing an initial increase in size. If you dislike the amount of fat tissue your thighs have, then you increase the muscle without decreasing the fat, you’re going to have bigger thighs. There is no way around it.
If this is happening to you, relax. The muscle isn’t making you bulky for life. You can choose to either 1) acknowledge that you’re gaining muscle right now, embrace it, and plan on burning off the fat later or 2) Nip that calorie surplus in the bud right now – create a slight deficit (by increased exercise, decreased calories, or both). Both are valid strategies.
Boy… that last paragraph was a doozy. I need to give 2 caveats:
Caveat #1 – Your first hand observations are not infallible. The more emotional you are in your body transformation journey, the less trustworthy they are. So, don’t just tell yourself that you’re gaining muscle – make sure to know for sure. You need to keep track of body stats other than just weight and a few measurements. Otherwise, you could be gaining fat and telling yourself that it’s “all muscle”.
Caveat #2 – If you’re gaining size, you’re in a calorie surplus. The only question is how much. If this is happening and it isn’t lining up with your current estimates of your caloric intake and needs, then your numbers are wrong. Plain and simple. It doesn’t make you a “bad person” to be eating more than you think you are – it’s just something that would be preventing you from the specific outcome you are pursuing.
So in summary: IF gaining muscle has truly made you bulky, you can address that. But the odds of that happening are SO slim that it’s not worth me expanding upon here.
Muscle – innocent until proven guilty.