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The Downside of Bulking Up



Aug 11, 2010
While taking the beginning arm measurement of clients, personal trainers often don't bother to have them flex their arms. It's not because the trainers are planning to have them flex for the "after" measurement and thereby fool their clients into seeming more muscular than they actually are. No, the simple reason these trainers don't have their new clients hit a biceps pose is that it doesn't make any difference if the arm is straight or flexed - you can't flex fat!

Despite this self-evident truth, in the past it was common practice for bodybuilders to engage in the practice of "bulking up" in the off season. The idea was to gain as much bodyweight as possible, even if some of it was fat, and then, when a competition approached, to diet and exercise to lose the fat while attempting to spare as much muscle as possible. While this may have worked in the past for these athletes, the level of not just muscle mass but muscularity that is achievable today is such that even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime would have a hard time winning even state physique competitions.

It's not only bodybuilders who used bulking up. Football linemen, even today, believe that it's best to add as much bodyweight as possible regardless of the composition of that weight. Again, that strategy may have worked in the past, but today's football line, especially defensive linemen, need speed - and excess fat and speed don't mix.

Often I see workout programs on the Internet still promoting the supposed superiority of bulking-up programs. Here are some of the nonsense statements I've read:

"Just gain weight; worry about cutting up later."

"You can't gain muscle without gaining fat."

"Eat Pop-Tarts. They are the most caloric-dense food."

"The key to gaining weight is to eat more candy bars - you can't gain weight on clean foods." Interestingly, the author of that one gives a history of switching brands of candy bars, leading up to the most calorie-dense one.

"Add Nesquik to every protein drink to help you gain weight."

The Downside of Bulking Up

Besides the obvious health problems associated with adding excess fat, bulking up is a really bad approach to trying to achieve your physique goals or athletic fitness goals. Here are six reasons why:

Anti-Bulking Fact #1. Bulking-up diet programs won't produce any more muscle growth than ingesting an ideal amount of nutrients. Sorry, but it's simply not possible to force additional muscle growth by overfeeding.

Anti-Bulking Fact #2. Bulking up makes you more insulin resistant, which makes it harder in the long run to gain muscle. What happens is that carbohydrates will go preferentially to fat stores, not muscle tissue.

Anti-Bulking Fact #3. Bulking up will make it harder for you to get leaner because insulin resistance is hard to reverse. The fatter you get, the harder it becomes to get lean.

Anti-Bulking Fact #4. The fatter you get, the more aromatase enzyme your body will produce. In the extreme, getting fat could be considered a form of self-castration, as your own testosterone will be converted into the female hormone estrogen. If you're a man and you enjoy wearing a bra, go right ahead and get fatter.

Anti-Bulking Fact #5. Getting fatter will ramp down the effectiveness of your thyroid hormone production. The fatter your abdominal wall gets, the less conversion of T4 to T3, the metabolically active form of thyroid.

Anti-Bulking Fact #6. The lower your percentage of body fat, the better your body gets at nutrient partitioning. This means that individuals with low body fat are more effective at storing the ingested nutrients in the muscle (as muscle tissue or glycogen) or in the liver (glycogen) and less effective at storing them as body fat. To put it in simpler terms, leaner individuals can eat more nutrients without gaining fat.

Anti-Bulking Fact #7. Getting fat increases the risk of dying from any cause, even terrorist attacks. I'm serious - you're a bigger target and you can't get out of danger as fast.

A Better Approach

For men, I strongly believe that before trying to put on muscle, your goal should be to keep your body fat at no higher than 10 percent. Ten percent body fat, in my experience, is the threshold for insulin sensitivity.

There is a prevalent theory in the bodybuilding community that you can't lose fat while gaining muscle, but it's simply not true - at least not in my experience. In fact, it is typical for my clients to gain 18 pounds of muscle and lose 12 pounds of fat in the first 12 weeks they train with me.

One of the most important points you should come away with from this article is that insulin sensitivity is your best friend. In addition to avoiding bulking-up diets, there are several supplements that can help with insulin sensitivity. Here are the best ones I've found, along with the appropriate protocols for each of them:

EPA-DHA 780: three to five capsules, three times a day

Fenuplex: two capsules, three times a day

Insulinomics: one tablet, three times a day

Yang R-ALA: three to five capsules, at breakfast and lunch

Yin R-ALA: three to five capsules, at the last two meals of the day

UberDHA: three to five capsules, at the last two meals of the day

Follow the protocol above and you will be rapidly on your way to adding muscle mass and decreasing body fat. And best of all, you'll always look your best while doing it.

by Charles Poliquin


Oct 28, 2010
Man I would love to gain 18lbs. in a year no matter 12 weeks. I like Poliquin, but he toots his own horn a bit much IMHO.



Senior Member
Mar 14, 2011
I like, over the past...2 years I've went from 135 to 200... never did my bf% go up, all lean gains. And it feels great, I'll admit I ate a lot of cookie dough and halfnhalf before clue if it helped...


Sep 20, 2010
This topic depends on ones point of view ...if your a weightlifter/powerlifter u welcome all the added caloires ..Most of this breed isnt concern about bf ..Look as long as u wear it well thats all that counts....Now people that is into fitness and bodybuilding is more concern about gaining fat....So we have two sides of the coin.....This topic that was written was more aimed towards your bb and fitness people....Its a good write up but when it comes down to people like me....There is no down side of bulking up.dw


Oct 28, 2010
never read as much crap in my life
Come to think of it, I like what he said and we are not alone some obscur nutritional expert named Lyle McDonald happens to feel the same way. You need a calorie surplus to put on MASS.

Lil Ed

Lil Ed

VIP Member
Jul 15, 2011
We are talking about bulking???

to build a 2 story house you need more material. period

The best in the world have to eat like idiots, what makes you think your going to do it with a twist? because you have better genetics than Ronnie, Kai, Branch???

What did Kai Greene do for the Olympia?? when he went from approx 220 to 275 in much less than a year.

Branch warren placed 3rd right? looked his best ever imo! what did Branch do different??? Branch said he was eating more Carbs than ever before! George had him eating banana honey sandwiches. LOL

check it out @ 3:29 2 cups (WHITE RICE)

George Farah says that even the pros get confused with all the BS, and forget what it was that helped them get so big in the first place.

So their aren't times in the day in your daily routine were you cant pack in carbs without getting Fat? Is their anything you can do to create insulin sensitivity?

the best in the world can't do it without eating like mules, and neither will you.

Maybe a compromise is in order, like priming and then a short bust bulking cycle. since you only grow in spurts anyways, not month after month after month.


I Look Good...
Sep 13, 2010
This article is a bunch of bullshit. This is for small fucking pussies who dont wanna add fat and who wanna keep their "abs" during a bulk.