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Gotta EAT BIG in order to GET BIG (Will weight training make me too big?)

Strength training is all a bit unclear when it comes to the general public's interpretations. Usually, when I speak to clients about building strength or packing on some extra muscle, they recoil in disgust, conjuring up mental images of 1980s Lou Ferrigno and other sweaty meat machines. "But I don't want to get too big," is the common response.

For example, when I talk about lifting weights to build strength, which of these two images would you be most likely to think of?

Courtesy of Redcon 1
Mikhail Shivlyakov at the Arnold Classic Ohio
Courtesy of Squat university on YouTube
Aaron Horschig

Next, if I was to tell you that some extra muscle mass would help you avoid joint pain, which of these two images would spring to mind first?

Courtesy of Muscle and Fitness
Brian Shaw
Courtesy of ChiroDynamics
Strong Shoulders

The truth is, in both cases, you can choose either outcome, but it all depends on one thing.


There's a reason why Mikhail Shivlyakov and Brian Shaw, the two larger guys in the images above, are the way that they are. Both of them train very regularly, very specifically and with great determination, all in the intention of competing at a high level in their sport. It's a well-known fact that for many strongman seasons, Brian Shaw has adopted diets requiring in excess of 10,000 calories per day. You can watch videos about his diet by clicking here.

Outside of specific sports preparation, a normal, balanced diet won't result in you turning into a rippling mass of heaving muscle; it's completely impossible. For your body to gain mass, you have to provide it with the material it need in order to synthesise that mass, so if you're training to build muscle and not eating massive amounts of food, it's impossible for you to turn into that bulging meatbag that haunts your fitness dreams.

Instead, consider the alternative examples from above. Lean, muscular people whose interests in strength are geared towards joint health, posture, longevity and all-round wellness. In everyday life, gains in strength and muscle mass can be obtained by making a few small changes to your diet, and can ultimately lead to huge increases in confidence, happiness and quality of life. Like everything, balance is crucial.

Anyway, who ever accidentally ate a consistent and sustained daily diet of 10,000+ calories?

Increased muscle mass and gains in strength are known to improve:

  • Testosterone levels

  • Metabolism

  • Mood

  • Joint health

  • Confidence

  • Bone density

  • Posture

  • Sports performance

Take it from someone who's competed in strongman at an amateur level: it's totally possible to gain huge amounts of muscle from regular training, but in order to facilitate the massive and properly recover, you need to e eating right around the clock. You really have to want to get big in order to actually get big, trust me. If you don't want to have to regularly replace the shocks in your car, just make sure your diet is comfortable enough for your size and weight, and you and your car won't run into any problems.

Instead of worrying, just know that your training runs hand-in-hand with your recovery and your diet. Get into the gym, grab a bar and get moving! Don't forget to ask for help if you need it.

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