It's no secret that I advocate staying lean all year round as much as possible and I've written posts in the past regarding my various methods from diet to cardio. Whether you are a competitor or an average Joe, I feel that the “Old school” method of “bulking up” to the point of gaining unnecessary body fat is quite outdated and I will go on to explain why in the second part of my article. But for now here's why I feel it's better stay lean all year around, as often as possible
1. The body is better at partitioning calories and nutrients when you are lean.
With the recent trend of “flexible dieting” on the rise it’s obvious many people don't like to have to think and worry about every single meal they have, every single day of their lives, and rightfully so. Being in a lean state allows you to reduce or even eliminate that stress especially in a social setting. One such example is the consumption of carbohydrates (or carbs), lean individuals are more effective at storing carbs as glycogen in their muscle or liver for daily activity rather than fat. The more body fat you hold the less insulin sensitive your body becomes, any carbohydrates you consume, regardless of how “healthy” or “unhealthy” they are, be it sugar, fruit or rice is most likely going to be stored as fat, thus perpetuating the cycle. Even the positive effects of drinking a protein shake is blunted. Break the cycle by getting lean and staying lean to get the most out of your nutrition!
2. You have a much better idea what your strengths and weaknesses are.
When your body fat is too high it becomes very hard to figure out which of your body parts may be lagging because the fat covering the muscle gives you a false sense of size. I've trained with individuals who used to boast about their arms and chest being their best developed body parts only for them to discover that after shedding 5-10% body fat, that their chest and arms were just pretty average and in some cases even lagging. Being lean while it may be a bit demoralizing to be able to only fit in a size M shirt, will give you the real deal as to what are the improvements that you need to make on your physique.
3. Losing fat can be a much tougher process than many realize.
This one is for the guys who are trying to pack on lean muscle with the traditional “Bulking and Cutting” method. After a certain point, your ability to gain muscle is not going to speed up by consuming more food. The body can't build more than a few pounds of muscle in a month. So don't assume all your "gains" are going to the right places. There's an optimal way to grow muscle without going overboard. Don't use bulking season as an excuse to eat junk. The cutting process can be a lot harder than most people bargained for and don't be surprised that in the whole process you end up back to square one or even losing muscle due to the extremities and stress you put your body through.
But wait... If it's so bad, why is it recommended by so many people? Didn't all the great bodybuilders in the past use this method and achieved great success? I'll be covering that topic in my next article explaining why theses methods were successful and popular in the past but not so much now. Stay tuned!