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Gain More Muscle and Increase Strength Without Bulking Up. Exercise to Get Fit.

Updated on October 16, 2013
Doing push-ups wearing a heavy backpack.
Doing push-ups wearing a heavy backpack. | Source

Gaining Muscle and Becoming Stronger

If you workout regularly and work at exceeding your current limits then you can become stronger. Becoming stronger mostly involves building muscle. When you build a lot of muscle it can increase your weight and it can make you look bulky. If you increase your strength again and again then eventually your muscles will become huge. However in practice building that much muscle is difficult. Muscle is lean and you need to work hard to get more of it.

To increase your weight you need to consume more calories than you burn. If you don't change your eating habits then you can only gain weight if you burn fewer calories. Exercising burns calories and increasing the amount of muscle on your body causes you to burn more calories throughout the day.

You will lose fat and build muscle or in some cases lose muscle in some areas and gain it in others. Most likely you will lose weight and become leaner unless you start consuming a lot more calories on a daily basis. If you want to gain some muscle and you don't have extra fat then you should eat more. I say extra fat because your body needs some fat. People that are trying to bulk up sometimes take supplements to help them gain weight and they often go on special weight gaining diets. They mostly avoid the exercises that would cause them to burn a lot of calories.

Me doing bicep curls to bulk up.
Me doing bicep curls to bulk up. | Source

Isolating Muscles

You have muscles all over your body. Usually a bunch of muscles work together. Some of your muscles support your body so you can maintain proper form and other muscles are doing the pulling or pushing. If you reduce the number of muscles so one or two muscles are doing almost all the work then you are isolating the muscles. An example of an exercise that isolates a muscle is the bicep curl.

Isolation exercises are good if you want to bulk up. If not you should try to use more muscles. Avoid exercise machines that eliminate the need to balance and maintain good form. Use your muscles to brace yourself. Gyms are full of exercise machines that isolate muscles because people go to the gym to bulk up. Body weight exercises and free weights are better for people that are not trying to bulk up.

Lifting body with arms.
Lifting body with arms. | Source

Strength VS Bulk

Some people workout to look big and some people workout to increase their strength. Decide what you want to do with your muscles. If I want to show off my biceps then I do bicep curls. If I want to be able to pull up my body weight then I would do pull ups. Bulking up is mostly about looking a certain way rather than being strong. It does not matter as much if their strength is limited because some of their muscles are weak or because they are heavy.

Increasing your strength is more about improving so you can do useful things with your muscle. Exercising to increase your strength and exercising to bulk up are two different things. When I want to slim down I usually focus on increasing my functional strength.

Functional strength means it can be used to do things like bike, run, climb or paddle. If I wanted to bulk up I would lift heavy weights. If I wanted to increase my functional strength I would do bodyweight exercises and activities like the ones I just mentioned.

The Core

Me doing side planks.
Me doing side planks. | Source

The core muscles include your abs, back and chest muscles. They are the muscles on your torso that help you balance, maintain good posture and twist side to side. Strong arms and legs do not count for much if you don't have a strong core. Your strength would be very limited. When working out to increase your strength you should not neglect you core.

People that are lean and muscular with nice abs workout their core muscles along with their arms and legs. Yoga is a good example. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can make you stronger and leaner.

Man doing pull ups.
Man doing pull ups. | Source

Get Fit

There are lots of lean muscular people. For instance cyclists, runners, swimmers, people that do yoga, gymnasts and volleyball players. Gain more muscle and Increase strength without bulking up by pushing and pulling yourself. Move your body, change the routine once in a while and don't eat more than you need to maintain the weight and muscle you want.

People that increase their strength don't usually bulk up. They usually slim down. I did go from skinny to lean and muscular. So I bulked up a little making me look and feel better. However I also started eating a lot more food.

If any of your individual muscles start to become too big you can just change your workout routine. However that probably will not happen if you do a variety of exercises that workout your whole body. Some people want to be lean and some people want to be bulky. Unless you workout and eat like someone that is trying to bulk up then working out should give you a lean body. Keep in mind that gaining weight is not always a bad thing. Pay more attention to the fat and muscle than your weight if you want to be lean and fit.

© 2013 Michael H


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    • DreamerMeg profile image


      7 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Useful info. I definitely do not want to bulk up but I do want to be stronger. I like free weights and do body weight exercises, so am following your advice and will try to do more of these.


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