Sunday, April 20, 2008

“I don’t want to bulk up.”

Appraising Your Success
The end of the week is a good time to review the past week of your SWEET Life and count up your accomplishments. Your goal is 5-6 times per week for each aspect of the SWEET Life: Sleep, Water, Eating, Exercise, and Tranquility. If you didn’t achieve some of your goals for the week, then next week, focus on those areas more and think about how to fulfill them more consistently.
How do you feel at the end of this week? Are you better rested? Do you feel relaxed? Are you more energetic? Do you feel generally healthier? Continue with the SWEET Life and you’ll experience all of these feelings!

Topic of the week
– “I don’t want to bulk up.”

As a Personal Trainer, I hear this from most women. Of course, we don’t want to bulk up. Recently, I came across Muscle & Body magazine, “Official Magazine of the Arnold Sports Festival” with a cover photo of the man himself, Mr. Universe, Gov. Schwarzenegger. Granted, I would not be the Personal Trainer of choice for anyone interested in bodybuilding. However, there was an article about the basics of bodybuilding, so I read it, thinking I should know how to bulk up in order to know how to advise people not to bulk up.

If you want to bulk up:

  • · You must eat more calories than you burn. Eat until you feel full, beyond feeling satisfied.
  • · Drink your calories: milk, juice, sports drinks, protein shakes, meal replacement bars, etc. are all great ways to add calories to your daily intake.
  • · Eat a lot of protein. You need to eat 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That’s a lot of protein. The magazine was upfront in saying that people can’t eat enough protein, which is why body builders drink protein shakes!
  • · Take supplements. Body builders need creatine and extra vitamins C, E & B-complex, in addition to those mentioned above.
  • · Work out each muscle group once a week and only 2-3 muscle groups per workout. Yes, I was surprised to read this one.
  • · Do 3-4 different exercises per muscle group and “crazy eights.” Crazy eights are 8 sets of 8 repetitions. The famous bodybuilder Vince Gironda created the concept, which is very successful for bodybuilding.
  • · Focus on the concentric phase, which is the “hard” part of the movement, when you are “concentrating” the muscle fibers together. The easy part of the movement, is called the eccentric phase.

Lessons Learned:

  • · If you want to slim down, you must eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the entire day. Eat until you are satisfied, but not stuffed.
  • · If you want to slim down, drink water so that you don’t add liquid calories.
  • · If you want to slim down, eat some protein. It makes you feel full longer than other types of foods. More importantly, it’s a basic building block of nutrition. Keep it lean and eat it from a variety of sources: chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, soy, beans, cottage cheese, pork, beef, etc.
  • · If you want to slim down, don’t base your diet on supplements, protein shakes and meal replacement bars. Instead, eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • · If you want to slim down, do strength training 2 or more times per week, using a variety of major muscle groups each time. Strength training once a week is torture to your body; it’s like starting over every time you work out. Doing it at least twice a week, you’ll see your body become concentrated. You’re building muscle, which is small and dense, and increasing metabolism, which allows you to burn off fat, which is big and soft. Just make sure your muscles get 48 hours rest between strength workouts.
  • · If you want to slim down, do 1-2 different exercises per muscle group and 3 sets of 10-15. Some people do 1-2 sets of 10-15, but that doesn’t challenge your body very much. You’ll see better results if you do at least 30 total repetitions. If you feel it takes too long, do as many as you can in one minute without stopping.
  • · If you want to slim down, focus on both the concentric and eccentric phases of the movement and get as much range of motion as possible. These will help develop long, lean muscles.
  • · If you want to slim down, do cardio, too. That wasn’t mentioned in the articles I read, but it’s what most people do the most of anyway. Cardio, as the name cardio respiratory implies, develops your heart and lungs, and it burns calories while you are doing it. Shoot for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times per week.

In addition, some recommendations for gaining muscle mass also hold true for losing fat mass:

  • · Eat 5-7 times per day, paying attention to total calorie intake.
  • · Eat whole grains and fiber.
  • · Eat healthy, unsaturated, fats
  • · Take a multi-vitamin daily.
  • · Drink 8-10 cups of water daily.
  • · Warm up at the beginning of every workout.
  • · Use moderate to heavy weights. Lift enough weight so that by the time you’re done, you’re pooped out.
  • · Stretch. A lot of people skip this or only do a couple cursory stretches; however, it should be a definite component of your workout, not an overlooked one. Besides helping with overall flexibility, stretching helps make your muscles long and lean. It also releases the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles during a workout, which helps prevent muscle soreness.
  • · Take a day off a couple times a week.
  • · Change workouts now and then.

In the end, the main contributor to bulking up is eating more than you burn off, so learn your lessons above and don’t bulk up.


Orsi, K. (March 2008). Crazy Eights. Muscle & Body. Vol. 3 issue 3. p. 92-99.

Team M&B. (March 2008). Bodybuilding 101. Muscle & Body. Vol. 3 issue 3. P. 22.

Look for another topic next week, and keep living the SWEET Life!

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Copyright © 2008 Suzanne Fong. All rights reserved.

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