Some men don’t want to lift heavy weights, because they’re worried about getting too big. A contributor to the usually excellent Return Of Kings made this argument today:
“This is the truth about bodybuilding: If you do everything about it right, expend huge amounts of time and energy, you’ll end up stiff and muscle-bound, with very little functional strength and out of breath from merely tying your own shoelaces.”
But you would be smart to ignore anyone who puts down any sort of training approach on the grounds that it might leave you ‘bulky’ and ‘muscle-bound.’ Getting too big is simply not something that 99.9% of men have to worry about.
Take the author of the RoK article. I’m not going to talk shit about the selfie he posted, because he’s still in better shape than 90% of men his age. Given that he spends 1.5 hours a week in the gym and lives an otherwise sedentary life, he looks fine. I also have nothing bad to say about a training program that emphasizes Olympic lifts.
But let’s be clear: Men do not accidentally become too big. You are not going to do a few deadlifts, drink a protein shake, and wake up looking like the hulk. The amount of sweat, pain, sacrifice, and dedication required to get anywhere near too big is off the charts.
Trust me: I’ve been training for a decade. I have probably spent more time in the gym than 95% of men. I lift hard, I lift heavy, and I focus on the big power lifts. I chug protein shakes, I destroy plates of steak and eggs, I pop supplements. I work my ass off to get bigger, stronger, leaner. In many ways, my life revolves around the constant struggle to make gains.
And yet, No one would ever think to call me “too big.” I am 6’3 and 215lbs. At my most jacked, I have been a lean 230. If I stop lifting for a few months, I drop right back to 200. My Wilkes is a pretty modest ~235. I am strong. I am bigger than most. I look great. But I am not even close to being ‘bulky.’ It takes a lot of hours and a lot of discipline to look good. It’s hard to imagine the insane combination of effort, genetics, and drugs that are required to push past that into ‘bulky’ territory.
The author of the anti-bodybuilding hit piece at Return of Kings looks OK. Many 35-year-olds look a lot worse. But he would look much better (and not at all muscle-bound) if he gained 20lbs of muscle and lost 10lbs of fat.
I admit there is a such thing as ‘too big.’ But he is at absolutely no risk of ever becoming too big. You probably aren’t either. The only thing an anti-swole, bulkophobic attitude like that can do is subconsciously hold you back from building a better physique. Fear of bulk holds you back from the last rep. Fear of bulk keeps your diet sub-optimal. Fear of bulk keeps you away from valuable supplements. Fear of bulk is irrational, because bulk is incredibly hard to build and maintain.
So friends: Make insane size and strength and definition your goals. Perhaps one day you will attain a physique that you can plausibly fret about being too bulky. Until then, quit spouting bullshit about functional strength and your swimmer’s build, lift some weights and eat some steaks.