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How to Avoid Bulk When Strength Training

It’s not a workout secret. It’s nutrition.

To better understand what causes bulk and how it can be avoided, let me show you my story.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 18 years old. (for almost 18 years now)

Throughout this journey I’ve had plenty of physique fluctuations and tons of experience in figuring out what bulks my body and what slims it.

And I can tell you this:

Workouts have some effect, BUT…nutrition is everything.

At times in my fitness journey where I felt bulky, it wasn’t because I wasn’t working out. It was because I was overeating, overindulging and bouncing back from extreme restriction and deprivation.

Restricting intake also slows metabolism causing more potential for fat storage

When we have sporadic eating changes our metabolism speed has a hard time adjusting.

I’d go through periods of extreme calorie restriction, depriving myself of anything yummy, working out really hard, UNTIL….

I grew tired, hungry, deprived, fed up and just “over it”.

I would then go crazy with all my favorite foods, eating more than I needed, especially the domino-effect types of foods like bread, cookies, candy, ice cream etc.., and the results would be devastating.

Deprivation leads to Binge

I remember feeling like I “deserved” to eat a bagel and cream cheese followed by 12 oreo’s and an ice cream cone, because I worked damn hard and denied myself of all of that for 6 months straight.

The question of whether I deserved that or not wasn’t even the issue.

Knowing what I know now, I see that I could have avoided those episodes all together if I had not restricted so hard in the first place.

You always “deserve” a yummy treat. You don’t have to earn tons of them with deprivation and restriction if you can learn to enjoy them in healthy moderate amounts.

I’m so grateful to be out of that phase with that mindset.

It was constant torment of my thoughts.

Social situations were always difficult because of my own perceptions of what I should be eating

I was trapped in a mindset that I had to restrict and deprive.
Or else get used to the idea that optimal leanness wasn’t possible.

In the world I was involved in (bodybuilding and competition), that was the normal belief.

Cutting and bulking was what everybody did.

I remember dreaming about staying lean forever…But I thought it was too impossible of a dream to be true.

Then I met Brad Gouthro ❤️

Here was this guy on YouTube, telling me it could be real.

I devoured his YouTube videos. I was so intrigued.

But I still didn’t believe it was possible for me.

I relied on fitness competitions to give me enough “why” to go workout, prepare my meals, and do all the things I needed to do to stay lean.

Fitness competitions were always such a strong motivator for me.

I had a set date on the calendar, and the pressure of being judged in a bikini.

I liked the results I was seeing from strength training and “dieting” so I continued using shows as my motivation to stay in top shape.

The down side to that: Once each show was over I lost my “why”

During the “off seasons” I would sink into depression. Even though I was able to eat anything my heart desired. All those extra calories, fat, sugar, carbs, junk food, all took a toll on me.

My body got bulkier and my motivation was just gone.

I know this may not look bulky to you, but relative to having just been 12% body fat and 10 pounds lighter only 2 months before this, it felt bulky to me.

2012 after having competed already 5 or 6 times and achieving my Pro card

I continued to compete again and again because it was the only way I knew how to motivate myself enough.

It got to a point where I had to question myself. “How long am I going to keep doing this for?”

I wanted a way out of my yo-yo cycle

It really wasn’t until about a year into dating Brad.

At that time I was learning about Living Lean but I thought I still needed my Physique Competition shows.

And he supported me. He came to my shows and cheered me on.

But at that last show I did, with him in the audience, I started to realize… “what am I doing this for?”

I don’t need all this fake tan and this external sense of pressure.

I need to Live Lean for me.

So it all began.

I finally adopted a steady way of eating that could support my ideal physique without extreme fluctuations.

Instead of getting super shredded for a show, my focus turned to training healthy habits that could be sustainable.

The biggest change that I made was to find my own sources of motivation.

  • I thought about my long term goals.
  • How do I want my life to go?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • I thought about other people going through a similar struggle. I knew I wasn’t the only one.
  • I loved watching Brad do what he does and enjoying every part of it.
  • I wanted to know that the dream could be real.

Brad was eating food that’s “damn that’s good” delicious, and doing workouts that are fun and challenging.

I was jealous that it was so easy for him, and also mesmerized.

It took time for me to let go of old restrictive thoughts and build new habits.

I also had one blip in the beginning where I experimented with a low-carb high-fat diet (cals were too high) and my weight blew up to a height I’d never seen before.

Slowly but surely I started getting into a sustainable groove.

Now it’s 7 years later, and even though I’ve been through 2 pregnancies during this time, I have continued to Live Lean.

I’ve never felt happier in my body or more content with my mind.

There are no more internal battles between what I want and what I can have.

Knowing that my methods are sustainable is the most reassuring part.

I also no longer have worries about what will happen next.

I have a knowingness that I do know how to take care of myself, long term.

I know for 100% certain that Living Lean is real, and that anyone can do it.

Now you know the number 1 thing that causes bulky results.

This revelation that diet is the most important factor is something you’ve probably heard from other fitness pros too. It’s one of those things you know after you experience how powerful of a difference maker it can be.

I didn’t know the journey would be like this when it started.

I’m grateful to have met Brad when I did.

I feel so lucky to have discovered Living Lean, especially before I did any more damage to my metabolism or struggled any further with the deprivation and binge patterns.

If you have this dream too but you need more help discovering your “why” or learning how to eat it’s all here for you:

Join our Team Live Lean membership plan.

If you are in a place of feeling bulky right now:

You’re likely either

Contemplating a Diet or Already on one.

Your first step -> Forget the diet.

Instead of lowering your calories to a weight loss zone, find out what level of calories would support your ideal weight.

Use this calorie calculator and instead of inputting your current weight, use your goal weight.

Follow the maintenance number for your goal weight.

You will, eventually over time, lose the unwanted weight and get steady with your goal weight.

Will this approach take longer: YES.

Will the results be longer lasting: HECK YES.

I know it’s tempting to lose weight as fast as possible, but think about your whole life.

Do you want to be lean just real quick or do you want to use the time to learn how to get there and stay there forever?

Sometimes the quickest way to get there is to take the sure path instead of the risky short cut.

Living Lean is the long game, not a quick cut.

After learning how to Live Lean sustainably and enjoyably we created a Team community of like minded people who want to do the same.

This Team plan includes ongoing monthly training guides, ongoing weekly meal plans and over 300 of our favorite recipes.

This is how you stay lean forever and love the process:

Follow the meal plans.

Join the Community.



You can learn how to eat in a way that supports your lean body without any bounce-back.


Start by taking our FREE Live Lean Body Quiz to get access to the best program specific to your goals, current fitness level, and access to equipment.

Take the Free Live Lean Body Quiz


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