“Lifting weights will make me bulky.”
This is probably one of the most frustrating things that trainers hear.
It’s a comment that invariably comes from girls, or skinny guys.
Getting ‘bulky’ is what they equate to putting on muscle mass.
I have news for you.
It doesn’t happen by accident, just like losing fat doesn’t happen by accident.
Both take hard work and a very specific nutritional protocol.
Even fat isn’t put on by accident, even though it might seem like it. It is put on by being careless or ignorant.
If it was that easy to put muscle on, you would see a lot more huge guys walking around, and less that are able to fit in ultra skinny jeans.
For muscles to grow they need to synthesise protein from the diet at a greater rate than the muscle protein is broken down.
Essentially this means that you need to take in a very high amount of protein to allow for the repair of muscles after a very heavy workout.
These two phenomena are very niche and will not be done by accident.
Resistance training in the form of weights will work to raise the heart rate because the muscles require oxygen and nutrients, carried by the blood, pumped from the heart. So it is a very effective way of burning calories, which is integral to fat loss.
Individuals with higher muscle to fat ratios burn more calories at rest, known as the higher basal metabolic rate or BMR.
Furthermore, strength training can have a host of other benefits like promoting a better posture, more functional joints, beneficial hormone response, improved stamina, less risk of injury, etc
There are obviously genetic factors that come into play when looking at physiques, but this shouldn’t be used as an excuse – it’s life.
Nothing worth having happens by accident
The genetic issue is another favourite excuse I hear from clients who want to tell me there is a reason they are out of shape that is nothing to do with the fact that they eat too much and don’t exercise.
Yes there are outliers out there whose genetics mean they have a naturally low level of body fat – deal with it.
It’s like making excuses why someone is taller, faster or has a better beard line, obviously this one just applies to the guys – hopefully! I know how die-hard some people are about genetic differences and its validity as an excuse…..
So I am going to use a slightly unusual example – we are going to look at bodybuilding.
I know some of you won’t like the idea of bodybuilding, but it is a perfect example of a sport that is dictated by genetic factors.
Contrary to popular belief not anyone can do it. Scratch that. Anyone can do it, but not anyone can be successful at it.
For example, anyone can play basketball, but unless you are giant and can jump like a spider monkey then you aren’t getting to the NBA – sorry, John.
Those bodybuilders up there on the Mr Olympia stage are among the top less-than-1% of the human population when it concerns muscle to fat ratios and muscle building potential.
The example I’m making here is that you can still get in great shape in bodybuilding without the necessary genetics. You will never win a big contest, but you can still get crazy muscular and lean just through hard work.
I have seen guys in the gym who spend a fortune on food, supplements and accessories with a dream of one day competing.
They need tough love.
By all means train to get in great shape, that’s admirable. However, if you want to get on stage to compete with the genetic elite, prepare to have your dreams crushed.
Unfortunately, the guys with the less complimentary genetics will generally have to work far harder than genetically gifted athletes and still unfortunately never achieve the same results. Here, though, the comparison comes to how much you want it and how much is enough.
Unfortunately the physical advantages of these individuals is marred somewhat by the use of ‘Russian supplements’ but that’s an issue for another column.
All the same, they still have to work incredibly hard on their physiques.
Now you might not be able to get as lean as fast as your friend who eats McDonalds every day and doesn’t put on weight, but that’s the hand you’ve been dealt. You just have to work a bit harder and stop whining
To snatch another Instagram quote: “Nobody cares, work harder.”
While they have that genetic advantage when it comes to body composition, you might have a better memory, more supple skin, or a myriad of other genetic benefits that they could whine about if they were so inclined.
Start being happy with who you are and then define your goals by what you want to look/feel like, not by comparing yourself to others.
If you find yourself a good coach he or she will tell you honestly what your physical potential is, and the general requests that come in are perfectly achievable for anyone.
It simply comes down to commitment, application and attitude.
Nothing worth having happens by accident.