I have heard many, many reasons of wanting to lift weights from people in the gym over the last 23 years. Many myths are still being propagated too.
There is one such myth that still exists regarding the approach to take to building muscle and that is – “bulking up”.
A lot of men think that “bulking up’ equates to putting on muscle. They think it is the best or only way of building up their muscles. They think that just because they have put on 5kg in a month means that they have built 5kg of muscles.
I have news for you: It does not work that way!
I see it all the time, young men (and dare I say women, too) believing the myth that if they go through a ‘bulking up’ phase, they would see extra muscles when they trimmed down.
In my 23 years of weight training I have put on close to 15kg of lean body mass – not weight, muscle! That’s just over half kilo of lean muscle per year. Not much when you view it this way aye?
Yeah, but taking the ‘tortoise approach’ to building muscle is not the key message. Building up is important, yes, holding on to the hard-earned muscle is more important. Remember this: build it up, then do everything in your power to hang on to those precious muscles.
You see, in all these years, I have not gone out and purposely aimed to ‘bulk up’. I have always seen myself as a work-in-progress and have always been (and still am) in the ‘building up’ stage even after all these years. There are just different phases of ‘building up’.
Muscle does not convert in to fat and fat does not convert in to muscle. Period!
You should not try to gain weight just for the sake of it in an effort to look bigger or ‘bulk up’. Building quality lean body mass (muscle) takes time and patience and relies heavily on genetic pre-dispositions.
With the goal of bulking up, it would highly likely be that a high percentage of your bulk weight would come from unwanted fat. Yes, you will put on bulk and weight but you will look ‘smooth’ and fat deposits will settle on areas of your body that you may not be happy about.
When you have a mind-set of ‘building up’ your muscle density, you encourage your body to become more metabolically efficient because every hard-earned muscle ounce you build becomes a ‘fat-burning dynamo’! Your engine room or metabolism (the rate at which your body burns energy) gets bigger and bigger. I could liken it to a small car engine (say a 1.8L) compared to an 8.0L or a V8.
More muscle equals more engine power (even at rest)!
Huge difference in energy consumption and power output. Huge difference in body composition and ultimately body shape. The mirror would reflect this.
You feel better, you look better and you wear your clothes better. You make the clothes ‘look good’!
Working out with the goal of building up a physique is far safer and a smarter way to go about your weight training than simply aiming to bulk up just to trim down later. You don’t have to work hard to lose what you put on in the first place.
So, focus on building up rather than bulking up.
Keep your training continuous and simple. Aim to put on good, quality, lean body mass (muscle). It might take longer but it is better. So what does it take? It takes vision (of a better you), a workable plan and the work ethic (discipline, consistency and persistence) to execute, with patience.
We all know that life is not a dress-rehearsal. Do you live every day like it was your last? Ask yourself: Have you got what it takes?
To build muscle, remember to leave your ego at the door of the gym and remind yourself that it is body-shape, not body-weight that matters.
Compare, say, a 75kg person with 15% body-fat than a 75kg person with 35% body-fat. They both weigh the same, but they will have totally different body-shapes and the latter person would more than likely have higher health risks.
This is why only focusing on your body-weight and not your body-shape (body composition) does not give you the full picture. Always aim to increase your muscle : fat ratio.
So, aim for building up rather than bulking up and help yourself manage one of your physical health and life risks.
Build up that engine room. Build up that ‘revving power’!
Drive safely through the roads you decide to take as you journey through your life.
All the best!
Until next time,
All B&W photos by: Robert Walsh of Robert Walsh Photography. Visit: “www.robertwalsh.com.au” and see how this great artist may be able to help you. Vv.
4 thoughts on “Bulking up vs building up.”
Building up is something that comes naturally for me as I am in a constant battle to reduce body fat while building strength. It is this combination that helps in regulating blood sugar and insulin and it actually works well.
Keep that philosophy attended to, my friend.
The world definitely has an ‘energy crisis’!
Life is about “Energy Management”, not time-management. Sugar is the most critical and dangerous energy source our human bodies and minds need. Just like you, everyone (even if you didn’t have diabetes), should be schooled in the management of energy, overall, and then energy (in and out) – in terms of daily consumption and expansion of energy.
Every individual should have an ‘energy quota’ and should be held accountable for the surplus’s and deficits they tally every day. Every individual should be as responsible to themselves as you are. Every individual should have control measures put in to their daily lives to help mitigate their individual risks of destroying the insulin receptors responsible for monitoring sugar (energy) levels in the blood.
If every person adopted my energy quota recommendation, the world will be a healthier place and people would stop becoming heavily reliant on drugs and the pharmaceutical industry.
Personal responsibility with energy is the key to saving each person and ultimately – the world as we know it.
Totally in agreement
Hello from Sydney, Australia. Hope you’re travelling ok through life …. over 50 and showing the way to simple living.
Keep up the good work.
The old Captain Viking Pirate Muscle Monk