Bulking up vs. slimming down: with workouts, less is more, and more is less……..

……this observation, and self-experimantation, might help those trying to slim down, and the fewer of us, like me, who like bulking up more.

With workouts, men and women have the same weightlifting and exercise concerns, although with perhaps opposite objectives, in that women often are hesitant about lifting too much weight in fear of getting "too big" or "too manly" looking. Guys often don't wanna get slimmer (unless trying to lose bodyfat), we often wanna "bulk up".

I was able to prove my theory on what's going here  and was able to "bulk up" a solid 13 pounds of muscle, from about 192 to about 205 lbs (with my waist staying an enviable 31", same as my college days, so I know the weight gain was not fat)

My loose  theory crystallized when I was watching the Olympics. I noticed with the runners, the shorter the distance of the race, the more bulky and buffed the athlete. The 100 meter male sprinters look almost like football players. But as you progress to the longer distance races, the athletes get progressively thinner. Have you ever seen a marathon runner with the physique of a sprinter?

So, the question then becomes, why is the body type for a 100 meter sprinter so buffed when her or his race takes only 10 seconds of work? Conversely, why does a marathon runner have a normally skinny body type, in spite of the fact that her or his body is exercising and working the muscles for over two hours? I'll give my humble opinion in a second, but look at the photos below:

Male and female sprinters on the left and the long distance runners on the right. Note that they all of African descent, so this is not an issue of racial genetics, though that can still be argued. But even a Black American Marathon runner is still gonna have the exact same body type as a Black Kenyan marathon runner.


I learned for myself that if I want to bulk up, I had to think and workout like a sprinter, so I trashed the 2 hour workouts and started a 30 minute high intensity workout. In similar fashion, the women I talk to who are afraid to lift weights in that they might bulk up, I tell them that they have to think more in terms of a 10,000 meter runner or a marathon runner, in that they have  to lengthen the amount of time of the workout, perhaps tacking a full additional hour onto the routine if possible.

If you think about this, it makes sense, the longer you workout , the more muscle fiber and bodyfat is being taken off by the exercise. And think about the marathon runners, if you are gonna run for two hours straight, the body will naturally adjust itself to not have to carry around a bunch of weight to two hours of work, thus the body instinctively slims down the more work that it does.

Think in terms of hiking as another example, the longer the distance hiked, the lighter you need your backpack to be, to carry less weight for longer distances. The human body, the ultimate divinely designed machine that it is, obviously has the same natural "thought process" about how much weight to carry around  for the tasks it consistently does.

Conversely, sprinters have what they call "short burst" muscle movements, which require a lot of thrust and power, similar to football players. So, sprinters seem to naturally bulk up for these powerful body movements that are needed for a very brief period of time relative to long distance runners.

Strange enough, when I researched this, after the fact, I learned the theory has been proven nearly 40 years ago, via a study called The Colorado Experiment. A trainer was able to help football players bulk up through high intensity exercise routines, although the workouts were a mere 30 minutes.

When you think about sprinting, that kind of all out, high intensity work can only be done for a short time, meaning you can't sprint at top speed for two hours, the body can only do it for 10 or 15 seconds. Thus, it make sense high intensity workouts can only be for a brief period of time relative to endurance exercising.

So, I would advise both women and men, if they wanna slim down, lengthen out the amount of the time of the routine, and if guys or girls wanna bulk up, move towards a shorter routine, perhaps 30 minutes or less with more explosive movements. Currently, those 30 minute routines are called H.I.T. (high intensity training). Personally, I don't think it matters what types of exercises you do, be it more running or weightlifting or a combination, I think it's about the length of the routine and if it's either short, intense, with explosive movements like sprinters, or a more drawn out, longer endurance style routine like marathoners and long distance runners.

For those of us with time constraints, there is an obvious advantage for those who like bulking up as opposed to slimming down….less time needed in the gym.

It worked for me, picking up 13 pounds of muscle in less than 2 months, with my workouts now more like a sprinter's run or football players movements, short but very intense with explosive movements. Previously, they were more drawn out, up to 2 hours. I noticed during those two hour routines, although getting more toned, I "seemed" to get slimmer, so it seems the body was, I suppose, trying to throw off weight like a  long distance runner, to compensate for the 2 hour endurance routines, and breaking down more and more muscle fiber.

So now, I'm back above 200lbs like when I was in my twenties (I'll defer from mentioning my age, though I do throw my age out here and there in the blog, find it if you must :)), and  when I take that post workout shower and look in the mirror, I say, "hey, you're looking good Douggie" .  For me, it's not 100% male ego, perhaps, I would say perhaps 20% ego.

The other 80% is the fascination with getting in tune with the human body, discovering superfoods that give me strength and energy like chia and papaya and many others, reversing issues such as joint pain, and most importantly, the mental and spiritual strengthening and divine gifts that allows me to learn all that I learn, and if so blessed, pass some of it on and help others along the way, and learning much more from others in return, and finally, continuing to acquire knowlege and instincts that I think  could keep this going for decades and decades…..and that 80% is the opposite of ego, very humbling……………… and that's no small blessing.

~stay healthy~

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2 Responses


I am 57, nearly 5′ 2″, weigh 205.
I worked out for 2 years with a trainer and my upper arms (my most unsightly fatty point, although there are a couple others to choose from) bulked up.

i have paused working out while recovering from a concussion 14 months ago. I really need to work out again. I need improved core strength, endurance and balance I’d like to slim down, not bulk up. I’d like to prepare my body for the most effective workout. I have an eliptical, bands, balance balls, balance disc, modest free weights and kettles and a wii fit.

My biggest complaint while getting stronger will be my knees and lack of flexibility.
The past year has beat me up and I’m ready to cast that aside and take advantage of a consistently healthy lifestyle. What would you suggest?


Hi Shannon,

I’m sorry to hear about your struggles.

I’m by no means a licensed or professional Nutritionist or Personal Trainer, I could only respond by pretending you were my cousin or sister-in-law, and what personal advice could I give, from all the things I’ve learned

First, it seems like you have some fat issues, and I think that is something that should be addressed more with nutrition than exercise. I’m not saying or assuming you have an unhealthy diet, but I do know that certain dietary changes can help get that excess fat off your body. I try to give women [and people] a specific example and not leave them hanging, something that might not force them to have to traumatically change everything they eat at once. That suggestion is you have to trash all these commercial oils, Wesson, Crisco, and the biggest culprit and scam of them all Canola. I tell them to cook everything in coconut oil, and the only other other oil you should use is coconut oil. Step on a scale before you start, and step on the scale six months later. If there are 13 pounds gone, that will be all the motivation you need to keep going.

Nothing is ever that easy however, because so many prepared foods have toxic oils, even the prepared foods at Whole Foods Stores are mostly Canola now 🙁 I don’t care what they say, that canola is one of the worst thing you can put in your body. Your body cannot process it, and if it can’t expel it in the digestive tract, it will simply store it away as fat. So no matter how much you work out and how much fat you burn in the gym, the day to day eating habits that you don’t even thing are detrimental, like Canola, which is in everything, will keep putting that fat back in your body, and the end result is that you have got nowhere.

So far as exercise, I’m personally not the biggest fan of getting too wrapped up into this exercise routine or that one. I think if you master nutrition, and get in the gym to do whatever routine gives you your most intense workout you can stand, you will start burning fat and dropping that weight, burning that fat will burn that fat that accumulates under the skin, makes the face saggy, gives unsightly cottage cheese and all the rest. Of course there may be different opinions on exercise routines, but that’s mine, and I’m not trying to profit off any of this, whereas a personal trainer has a financial interest in his routine.

Back to nutrition, there are many other thing to be done other than changing oils, but I would tell family and friends to find one powerful one you can handle, and build on that. As probably in your case, if you don’t see any results, you are gonna say “what’s the point in doing this for six more months”. But if you see that coconut oil is helping you skin get clearer, your clothes fit better and you have more energy, your friends start telling you you have a “glow”, then you are gonna look into it more…no one will have to motivate you.

I could go on and on, but the blog itself is my “on and on”. There are perhaps 6-7 things that may have the impact of switching to coconut oil replacing all oils (the exception of still using a little olive oil), specifically like my Top 10 list where I list 10 things to remove from your diet. https://www.gaiahealthblog.com/2015/01/01/my-top-10-things-to-remove-from-your-diet-asap/

But, I hate to overwhelm people, and try to make the most powerful suggestion.

Not sure if this helps at all, but there is is from my end

Good Luck!!!!

Doug at Gaia Health Blog

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