Does CrossFit Make Women Bulky? Opinions from a CrossFit Games Athlete

This article originally appeared on the BOXROX website.

Probably you’ve heard many stories about CrossFit but there is one question that rules them all in your head: does CrossFit make women bulky? A CrossFit Games athlete and her coach decided to give their opinion about this matter.

You are thinking of doing CrossFit, or are already doing it and about the possibility of getting bulky as a female CrossFit athlete. If you want to get bulky, you should work towards your goal because strong is beautiful.

But, if you are afraid of it, here is some good news. Does CrossFit make women bulky?


Patrick is a 7x CrossFit Games Regional competitor, husband and coach of Kristi Eramo O’Connell. Kristi has been to the CrossFit Games 6 times – last year she finished 8th Fittest Woman on Earth. They are both founders of Ibex Training.

“For 99 per cent of the people, no matter CrossFit, powerlifting, bodybuilding, whatever you are doing, putting on muscle isn’t easy and it takes quite a bit of time,” Patrick O’Connell explains.

Does CrossFit Make Women Bulky?

As you are probably aware, CrossFit is not like weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding or gymnastics. It is rather a mix of all of the above mentioned. So it depends on what your CrossFit level is and what your workouts are going to be.

“Even if you are doing CrossFit and revolves more around cardio, the likelihood that you are going to put on muscle, not great,” Patrick says. “You might lean out and get more toned, which most people want, but you probably are not going to add a whole lot of muscle.”

Even if you are doing CrossFit workouts that are focused more on lifting weights, it will still take a lot of time for you to build enough muscle to get bulky as a female athlete. Most athletes at the highest level of the sport don’t do only CrossFit, as they do some bodybuilding and accessory exercises that will help them perform better at CrossFit competitions.

Kristi used to be an endurance athlete, running marathons and ironman tournaments that could take more than 5 hours running. Her objective was always to be as small as possible to be able to run the longest.

“I honestly thought that I was gonna get super bulky, but here I am 9 years later and I am still one of the smallest athletes on the floor and I have done a bazillion [sic] of reps,” Kristi explains.

Do What Makes You Happy

If your objective is to get bulky, then you can do it. “You can absolutely do it. You can build muscle. You got to eat the right way, you got to sleep, you got to focus on quality reps and get high volumes of reps,” Kristi says.

However, if you are coming to CrossFit and is scared that bulky will naturally happen, you can relax. So, does CrossFit make women bulky? Not if you don’t want to. And if you want to, CrossFit will help you achieve leaner looking aesthetics and you could do better with bodybuilding and powerlifting training programs to build muscle.