Will CrossFit Make Me Bigger Or Bulky? Find Out Here.

Many people ponder this question, particularly before they start. For some, they do not want to get “bulky”. For others, they intend solely on getting bigger. So what’s the answer?

CrossFit is a form of exercise that aims to create a fitter human, utilising 10 different domains of fitness. The outcome to your physique can be increased muscle mass. It can also reduce excess body fat. So it depends on your existing body composition, your diet, your commitment to training, and most of all what you want to get out of it.

If that sounds complicated, it’s really not and we can look at the 2 scenarios in more detail.

What sort of body do you want?

Will CrossFit Make Me Bigger?

If you are using CrossFit as a means to put on muscle mass for a ‘summer bod’, or you simply want to get bigger and stronger, then yes, it can make you bigger. You need to be on a decent CrossFit strength programme.

Generally speaking, CrossFit is geared toward conditioning (aerobic and anaerobic), so doing a lot of cardio-biased work reduces the capacity to size-up, so to speak.

Open gym

Many CrossFit gyms offer an Open Gym side option. This is where you’re free to use the facility how you wish. Sometimes this is in off-peak times, or in bigger facilities, open gym can run concurrently with classes.

You could always do 1-2 normal CrossFit classes per week, then do another 2-4 strength or weightlifting-based sessions too, (Olympic/Powerlifting).

Or even Strongman/Bodybuilding style exercises thrown in – as long as it is strength-based.

What equipment is needed for building muscle?

The equipment at a CrossFit gym is much more sparse than that of a conventional gym. However, there is more than enough equipment, so a well-thought-out strength programme can easily be carried out in a CrossFit open gym.

You don’t need a tonne of cabled machines and mirrors to get bigger. Nor do you need anabolic steroids.

A good programme and a good diet will suffice.

CrossFit is geared toward conditioning (aerobic and anaerobic), so doing a lot of cardio-biased work reduces the capacity to size-up, so to speak.

Tailoring your training

I’ve seen members at our affiliates do just that. Maybe they’ll concentrate only on weightlifting with 1 CrossFit class per week to keep their engine ticking over.

1 coach/member of ours put on over 10kg in muscle mass and his lifting numbers increased by about 18% (Snatch and Clean & Jerk). Probably his Squat and other ancillary lift numbers increased to somewhere in this region too.

The point is, he visibly looked stacked when on that programme.

See this article here that goes into the depths of building muscle and CrossFit.

We’ll talk later about what accessories you can utilise to help your strength training at your CrossFit gym, enabling you to lift more weight.

Will CrossFit Make Me Bulky?

This is a loaded question and normally from an angle of ‘bulky’ being in the negative of senses. The short answer is no it doesn’t…and here’s why.

By using the word bulky, the inference is that someone does not want the gladiatorial of looks – man or woman. You may have seen Fittest On Earth on Netflix or Prime, and thought, ‘if I do CrossFit, I don’t want to end up looking like that‘. Or you may have gone to the other end of that conclusion….

Elite level muscular size

The top-level CrossFit athletes are training 2-3 times per day, some up to 6 (even 7 as active rest) days per week. Their diet is nailed. They onboard a huge amount of calories to account for the burn, but also to feed their body’s the nutrition needed to simply operate at that level.

Elite CrossFit ladies – bulky or trim?

The truth hurts

But the truth is, around 95% of people who do CrossFit do not look like that. Sorry to break that to you – if you’re Jack the Lad wanting an 8 pack overnight.

As noted above, there is a huge amount of conditioning in CrossFit classes.

So you’ll slim down quicker than you’ll Muscle Up (pun intended). The high-intensity cardio-based work is less conducive to smashing on muscle pounds.

So without a solid strength and diet program, you will not get bulky. But should you wish to get bulky/bigger/muscular/hench, you can learn more here.

Still unsure whether to start? Use our flow diagram.

What Can I Use To Get Stronger In CrossFit? Here Are 5 Items.

We’ve already linked to the Best Gym Hack’s other articles about how to get stronger or build more muscle and how it works. But there are more simple methods such as having some things in your gym bag that will help you achieve that.

Do you start drooping forwards when Front Squats get heavy? A lifting belt will help significantly to support your lower back and get you lifting weights that you are actually capable of lifting.

Accessories for getting stronger

I’ve been through so many accessories over the 12+ years of doing this sport, so can vouch for what’s hot and what’s not.

I also founded a CrossFit and lifestyle brand a few years ago, which I then sold. So I’m well versed in good manufacturing and quality products.

Below is a list of items I use and keep in my gym bag at all times.

1. Wrist Wraps

For me, these are a prerequisite. Having broken my right wrist twice (snowboarding and skateboarding), I tend to get achy wrists – especially the right.

It could be said that I rely on these too much, but I’d rather be on the preventative maintenance side than many £££ physio and no-training side.

These simple wrist wraps don’t cost a lot and have lasted me over 3 years now.

Rogue also make decent wraps but you don’t need to splash out on them.

2. Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves increase blood flow and provide support to your knees.

I always use mine with most squat movements, in the strength sets especially. Having struggled with smaller named brands in the past, the below are a great product which have stood the test of time for me.

7mm ply offers a higher tensile resistance. 7mm for me was too much. 5mm is fine for CrossFit and the amount of lifting we do.

Simple neoprene sleeves work really well for me. And my skateboarding battered knobbly knees are still going great.

These 5mm neoprene bad boys will serve you well.

3. Weightlifting Belt

Again, for that added support. Protect your lumbar and posterior chain from collapse and cave.

Do you start drooping forwards when Front Squats get heavy? A lifting belt will help significantly to support your lower back and get you lifting weights that you are actually capable of lifting.

I’m not a fan of the buckle type. They pinch your skin and are not good for the quick on/off that CrossFit so often requires.

A self-locking 4 or 5-inch velcro lifting belt I’ve found is best. 6-inch belts are way too bulky and unnecessary, unless you’re Eddie Hall.

This one doesn’t break the bank and is as good as the Rogue Fitness one I had (and then I lost). I bought this as a replacement and was not disappointed.

Velcro self-locking 4 inch weightlifting belt

4. Lifting Straps

The raised gripper spots create more traction for your grip

If you’re going down the strength cycle route at your CrossFit’s Open Gym facility, consider using these.

They create additional torque from using your wrist and forearms more for added grip.

How they work

Your wrists go through the loop, the long end wraps around the bar a couple of times, you twist the loop to create tension, and then grip the loops.

It takes a few goes to get used to, but you’ll be able to rip more off the floor on Deadlifts, Clean pulls, Snatch pulls and other accessories pull movements. Great for getting used to the feeling of pulling that weight.

When you drop the bar, you let go of the loop so the strap immediately comes away and unravels. There is no need to worry it’s going to pull your arms out of your sockets.

Get your coach to show you how to use them.

5. Lifting Shoes

Last and by no means least, we have lifting shoes. Having the correct shoes for weightlifting, particularly Olympic weightlifting, is essential.

They’re designed to work under heavy duress, being also flat-based with a raised heel for stability, but flexible enough to be comfortable.

Don’t be surprised if you’re PBing off the wall once you invest in some lifters.

Here’s a great pair of Adidas lifters which is very popular among both men and women.

They come in some epic colours and are much cheaper than the Nike equivalents. Perfect for what a CrossFitter would need.

Good quality coaching

All that said above, nothing can outdo good technique and good coaching.

Don’t just buy all that stuff and expect to lift 20% more. They will definitely pave the way for improving your lift.

Most importantly, you should listen to your coach for lifting tips, and consider doing a 3-6 month strength-biased cycle – should you want to be bulkier.

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