So, you’ve been going to the gym for several months now in an attempt to lose weight.
You’re going through all the necessary steps to shed some pounds, including committing to a healthy diet and working out every other day.
Problem is, you seem to be bulking up instead of slimming down.
While this doesn’t mean you have wasted your time at the gym, it can be demoralizing to look bigger than you intend.
After all, if your aim is to slim down, you don’t want to look bigger than you were before you started working out.
If you’re wondering, “why am I bulking up instead of slimming down?”, you’ve come to the right place.
Here is our guide on why you might be bulking up instead of slimming down, and what changes you can make to increase weight loss.
So, Why Am I Bulking Up Instead Of Slimming Down?
There are actually several reasons why you might be bulking up instead of slimming down.
In most cases, bulking up is a common side effect of working out, and something you need to work around before you start to see weight loss results.
You Are Building Muscle
The main reason why you’re bulking up instead of slimming down is because you are building muscle, and therefore your muscles are getting bigger.
This is a process known as muscular hypertrophy, and is very common when working out consistently for weeks or months at a time.
The increase of muscular cells isn’t really something that can be avoided when working out, especially when the long-term goal is to lose weight.
In fact, people will often find that they will gain muscle before even losing weight.
This is because your muscles are getting stronger to adapt to this exercise, which will support your body in the long-run to continue slimming down.
Muscular hypertrophy most commonly occurs with strength training exercises, but it can also happen in regular cardio sessions.
This is because you are activating large and small muscles that you haven’t worked before, so they will become stronger and denser to account for such exercise.
You’re Not Burning Fat Fast Enough
Unfortunately, it’s far quicker to build muscle than it is to burn fat.
The reason for this is that, while you need to burn calories to slim down, you also need more fuel to build muscle and to remain fit and healthy.
With more fuel and energy, the stronger your muscles are, and the better your stamina to continue exercising.
However, this comes at a cost, because it’s hard to balance the gain of muscles with the loss of fat.
It takes a surprisingly long amount of time to burn fat, which is why it’s important to maintain a consistent workout regime to promote fat loss.
A huge component in the burning of fat is sticking to a low-fat diet.
Again, it’s hard to maintain a balance here, because you still need enough calories and nutrients to support your body while working out.
Unfortunately, it’s a matter of committing yourself to a good diet and workout plan, and being patient with results!
Muscles Retain Water
When you’re new to working out (and therefore building muscle), you might be bulking up because your muscles are retaining water.
Muscles are known to store extracellular water to prevent or lessen the pain and soreness that happens after working out.
This extracellular water sits in the tissue surrounding the muscles like a cushion, resulting in “bulking”.
If you’re wondering why your muscles still ache after working out despite the extracellular fluid, this is because exercising your muscles creates microscopic tears in the muscle fibers.
The healing process will consist of the fluid going to these tears, which helps to lessen the pain in the days after working out.
So, the more you work out – especially with strength training and muscle-building exercises – the more water your muscles will retain to improve the recovery process.
You’re Not Balancing Your Exercises
The key to working out to lose weight is to provide a good variety of exercises and stick to a workout regime that works for you.
While it’s good to exercise whenever you can, you’ll find that you’ll get better results when you stick to a routine.
This routine needs to be a mixture of cardio and strength training, but if you find that you’re bulking up more than slimming down in the next 6 months, then you might want to reconsider this workout regime.
If you’re desperate to slim down, we recommend hiring a personal trainer to figure out a strict routine to encourage the burning of fat alongside muscle gain.
After all, it’s a good thing to be bulking up and gaining muscle, because your body will eventually be strong enough to commit to high intensity workouts.
However, you don’t want to forget about the other sides of exercise that are just as important as strength training, such as cardio.
You Need To Change Your Diet
Diet plays a huge role in your body’s ability to gain muscle and burn fat.
It’s pretty difficult to balance your diet to support your body in working out without consuming too many calories to prevent weight loss, so if you’re new to the world of diets, it’s best to follow your doctor’s advice.
Alternatively, work with a nutritionist to create a detailed diet plan for your body.
It all comes down to what results you wish to achieve. If you want to lose weight fast, then a calorie deficit diet is the way to go.
However, losing weight slowly is actually better for preserving your lean mass, which will make you stronger and fitter.
If you wish to build muscle, then you need to follow a calorie surplus diet to aid muscle gain.
So, there you have it!
Bulking up is a normal part of working out to lose weight, and while it might not provide the desired results immediately, it’s a necessary process that will ultimately aid you in the long-run.