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  1. #1
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Suggestions for muscular and lean, but not bulky, physique

    Hi I'm 6ft 3in, around 12.5-13st.

    Goals:
    I'm looking to get a muscular, toned look.
    Also, 50 press ups (I'm on 48); 20 Chin ups (I'm on 8) and 10 Pull ups (I'm on 5)
    (There's no real logic to this second set of goals; I just like goals and want to get stronger.)

    I do weights a couple of times a week, interval running twice a week and I'm currently… er … 'greasing the groove' on a daily basis (ie doing low reps frequently on press ups, pull ups, chin ups) to try to bust a plateau.

    I'm a vegetarian, but taking protein shakes.

    My dilemma is, I'm getting pretty muscular. I don't really want to get more muscly, but I do want to gain more strength and work on the above targets and maintain my physique. (Later to lose a little fat and get toned look.) Is this possible to do without getting more bulky?

    I understand the toned look is about fat loss.

    Finally, my weights routine is in the lower rep range, heavier weights. Everywhere I read tells me that this is the only way and high reps will not give you the leaned toned (not bulky!) muscular look I'm after. However, this seems a bit of a paradox to my uninitiated mind. Surely the big bulky guys are doing low reps too, so what do I do differently to maintain lean (but strong) look.

    Yes, I know – this is a stream of thoughts like a bad James Joyce novel and a tad unorganised.

    Any thoughts are kindly received and appreciated.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    Registered User gcalderwood's Avatar
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    well 1-5 Rep range is for strength gains with limited hypertrophy - (muscle growth)
    so if you keep it in that rep range you shouldnt get too bulky. although some people do find muscle growth in this rep range. if you dont want to get too bulky just keep the calories low id say.
    and the higher reps will tone up while not giving too much bulkiness.
    Id say just keep trainin in the low rep ranges (1-5) or high rep ranges (+15) and keep the calories low. maybe some extra cardio after lifting weights.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gcalderwood View Post
    well 1-5 Rep range is for strength gains with limited hypertrophy - (muscle growth)
    so if you keep it in that rep range you shouldnt get too bulky. although some people do find muscle growth in this rep range. if you dont want to get too bulky just keep the calories low id say.
    and the higher reps will tone up while not giving too much bulkiness.
    Id say just keep trainin in the low rep ranges (1-5) or high rep ranges (+15) and keep the calories low. maybe some extra cardio after lifting weights.
    HI Thanks for that advice. I'll look at it a bit closer. Why low or high reps? Is it the medium range (8-12) that is considered optimum for muscle gain.

    Cheers
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  4. #4
    Registered User gcalderwood's Avatar
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    Yes, even 6-12 is considered the optimal rep ranges for muscle growth to occur.

    The lower rep ranges 1-5 are more neurological. Training your mind to recruit more muscle fibers to make a lift (basically your muscles are getting smarter) which is the increase in strength.

    The Higher rep ranges are considered muscle endurance, if your using a weight that you can do more than 12 times its probably not a heavy enough weight to break down the muscle fibers promoting growth which is why no growth will occur at this rep range
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  5. #5
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gcalderwood View Post
    Yes, even 6-12 is considered the optimal rep ranges for muscle growth to occur.

    The lower rep ranges 1-5 are more neurological. Training your mind to recruit more muscle fibers to make a lift (basically your muscles are getting smarter) which is the increase in strength.

    The Higher rep ranges are considered muscle endurance, if your using a weight that you can do more than 12 times its probably not a heavy enough weight to break down the muscle fibers promoting growth which is why no growth will occur at this rep range
    Okay, got it. This might sound like a lame question, but what are those strong, taut Bruce Lee-type guys doing to keep themselves looking muscular but kind of compact but not bulked up overly.

    I know this question probably needs a long answer, so I'll research if you can give me a framework or reference.
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    Registered User GUnit2010's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    Okay, got it. This might sound like a lame question, but what are those strong, taut Bruce Lee-type guys doing to keep themselves looking muscular but kind of compact but not bulked up overly.
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=113288021
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  7. #7
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    I couldn't see how that link was helpful. To my eye, it's very bulky. Thanks for the suggestion, though.
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  8. #8
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    Leangains - link in my sig. It is mostly about diet (which is how it should be for you to reach your goal) but they favour strength based training like RPT.
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post

    I'm looking to get a muscular, toned look.
    Also, 50 press ups (I'm on 48); 20 Chin ups (I'm on 8) and 10 Pull ups (I'm on 5)

    My dilemma is, I'm getting pretty muscular. I don't really want to get more muscly, but I do want to gain more strength and work on the above targets and maintain my physique. (Later to lose a little fat and get toned look.) Is this possible to do without getting more bulky?
    Wow damn dude, you really decided to be walking a tightrope here man, props to you for aiming so high but you now have to be really, really careful & proceed ever-so-slowly coz if you accidentally do too much you will wake up with muscles it will take you years to lose (if ever) if you are sure you don't want them. I really am at a loss to suggest how to protect yourself against this, I don't know maybe start taking some cortisone or something to safeguard yourself and provide a safety buffer against it so you don't gain too much brah, good luck you daredevil you. [quote]
    Last edited by palumboism; 05-20-2011 at 03:31 AM.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Orks007's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    Hi I'm 6ft 3in, around 12.5-13st.

    Goals:
    I'm looking to get a muscular, toned look.
    Also, 50 press ups (I'm on 48); 20 Chin ups (I'm on 8) and 10 Pull ups (I'm on 5)
    (There's no real logic to this second set of goals; I just like goals and want to get stronger.)

    I do weights a couple of times a week, interval running twice a week and I'm currently… er … 'greasing the groove' on a daily basis (ie doing low reps frequently on press ups, pull ups, chin ups) to try to bust a plateau.

    I'm a vegetarian, but taking protein shakes.

    My dilemma is, I'm getting pretty muscular. I don't really want to get more muscly, but I do want to gain more strength and work on the above targets and maintain my physique. (Later to lose a little fat and get toned look.) Is this possible to do without getting more bulky?

    I understand the toned look is about fat loss.

    Finally, my weights routine is in the lower rep range, heavier weights. Everywhere I read tells me that this is the only way and high reps will not give you the leaned toned (not bulky!) muscular look I'm after. However, this seems a bit of a paradox to my uninitiated mind. Surely the big bulky guys are doing low reps too, so what do I do differently to maintain lean (but strong) look.

    Yes, I know – this is a stream of thoughts like a bad James Joyce novel and a tad unorganised.

    Any thoughts are kindly received and appreciated.

    Thanks

    id say the answer for you, would be just to get your fat down. to look ''muscular'' you have to enable your muscles to show.... simple eh? so the less fat you have under your skin, the more muscular you will look.

    unfortunatley you cant have your cake an eat it on this one, if you want to get ''stonger'' this does come with getting bigger, as bigger muscles are stronger.

    BUT based on the exercises you are trying to acheive to do more, just increases your endurance, meaning your muscles just get used do doing that exercise, and you become capable to do more, doesnt mean you are exactly ''stronger'' just able to cope with doing more, this could be down to better cardio, so your muscles are getting more oxygen so you dont tire as quick, or you are activating your slow twitch fibres enabling you to do more.

    i hope you get this as at times i can just blab!

    good luck
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  11. #11
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    hi Palum-thingy

    Wow! That was some awesome sarcasm! Did you do it all by yourself?

    My goals seem teensy and small to you? Cool! Makes me wonder what a big, strong and brave muscly guy you are. You sound awesome.

    You're a great writer, too. Maybe you could get a job in academia. Sharpening someone's pencils.

    Keep the reps low and the weight high, Dude.

    (What a guy!)
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  12. #12
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    @ orks007

    Cheers for the reply.

    Yes, I take your point about strength, muscle gain.

    I think my dislike of too much muscular gains must have offended the Atlas-like Palum-bloke, but it's each to their own. For me, I just want a balanced, athletic body with nice muscular tone.

    I guess if I want to reach my totally arbitrary targets, I'll have to accept a bit more muscle gain. Maybe I'll up the cardio a bit too.

    One question I always, have by the way, and it may be a bit off topic, is do most people who lift weights always try for more weight? ie do they make their targets more weight? And if so, does that mean consequently they are always looking at getting bigger bodies? I mean most people, surely, have a point at which they feel, this is the size for me.
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    hi Palum-thingy

    Wow! That was some awesome sarcasm! Did you do it all by yourself?

    My goals seem teensy and small to you? Cool! Makes me wonder what a big, strong and brave muscly guy you are. You sound awesome.

    You're a great writer, too. Maybe you could get a job in academia. Sharpening someone's pencils.

    Keep the reps low and the weight high, Dude.

    (What a guy!)

    His reply was prob the best for you. His point is your being naive. Muscle takes years of dedication and proper dieting to build. Basically your fear and "problem" is naive at best. Either bulk up and cut when your happy or cut and slow bulk till ur happy. Having a fear of becoming too big IS naive. You obviously don't know the time effort and work involved.
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    This is my goal too OP

    I do alot of Heavy Oly lifts along with bodyweight exercises

    Once a week to keep Motor recruitment up and strength levels progressing i lift very heavy in a non stop peripheral heart action circuit. in the 2-5 rep range. I usually keep deadlifts in the 1-3 rep range

    And i try not to over eat lol. lots of fruit and veggies, lots of lean protein and fats and i eat almost no grains (yes paleo and i love it)


    I have recently fallen in love with EDT (escalating desity training) im at work so i cant give you a link but if you google it about 10 pages show up.

    What i do sounds like crossfit but it is not. I dont really perform many things for time...because that is stupid lol
    Last edited by ftwrestler; 05-21-2011 at 08:41 AM.
    watch me make Sir Issac Newton my bitch in my Oly log:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=154478223

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    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Twstd View Post
    His reply was prob the best for you. His point is your being naive. Muscle takes years of dedication and proper dieting to build. Basically your fear and "problem" is naive at best. Either bulk up and cut when your happy or cut and slow bulk till ur happy. Having a fear of becoming too big IS naive. You obviously don't know the time effort and work involved.
    Okay, thanks for nothing. His reply answered a well-intentioned query in a very pissy, *******y way. No use to me at all. I'm kind of sorting the helpful people from the know-all smart-arses. Same territory with any forum, I guess. (Thanks, FT Wrestler, btw.)
    Last edited by Gorah; 05-21-2011 at 09:55 AM.
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    Without pictures or some form of numeric goals, your question is going to get very vague and general advice at best.

    What's your goal weight and BF%? Simply enter the info on this calculator, and eat. Your diet will (for the most part) determine your build.

    freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
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    Registered User gcalderwood's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    Okay, got it. This might sound like a lame question, but what are those strong, taut Bruce Lee-type guys doing to keep themselves looking muscular but kind of compact but not bulked up overly.

    I know this question probably needs a long answer, so I'll research if you can give me a framework or reference.
    The Bruce Lee type guys are not eating as much as the huge bulky guys is what.
    I think what those guys who are callin you naive are saying is that you dont have to worry about getting huge muscles really because it takes a lot of different factors and effort for that to happen. You would have to eat a lot more calories above maintenance, work in that 6-12 rep range, etc. and if your not doing these things and really putting an effort into achieving muscle growth then its not gonna happen.

    Id say your best bet would be to train in the low 1-5 rep range if you want to be stronger, higher rep ranges for endurance and toning, while making sure not to eat too much. keep calories at or below maintenance and you wont have to worry about gaining much muscle. your body can not create more muscle without you eating an excess amount of calories than you are burning to put towards growth. (your body cannot create mass out of air) so if you eat at or below maintenance then your body will only loose fat while preserving muscle and toning muscle.

    you could also try circuit training which burns a lot of calories while your chiseling your muscles. MensHealth's Spartacus Workout did wonders for me. (google it)
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  18. #18
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    @ Wally West

    Thanks, that's a cool link
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  19. #19
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    @GCalderwood

    Thanks for the advice. Like the Spartacus workout. Might introduce it at some point.

    You mention fewer calories; I guess increasing the cardio will do the same thing ie leave fewer calories available for muscle growth.

    My plan at the moment is to take two protein shakes on workout days; one on non-workout days, but keep a handle on the calories generally. I want to maintain my muscle and even perhaps generate a little more growth for the time being, then just keep a defined, lean, muscular look. The reason for the shakes is I'm living a long, long way away from my usual veggie burgers at the moment (I'm a veggie) and too many lentils make me fart like a rhino.
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  20. #20
    Equipment Geek Mod Wildtim's Avatar
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    In truth your goal is all about diet. No workout plan will make you bulky without the calories to do so. Any workout program will add weight if you eat to much.
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  21. #21
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    HI Thanks for that advice. I'll look at it a bit closer. Why low or high reps? Is it the medium range (8-12) that is considered optimum for muscle gain.

    Cheers
    Actually I know that 8-12 is reccomended the most for hypertrophy, but in reps 8 and under are what actually bulk you up (with the inclusion of a proper protein and calorie intake).

    And if there was a magic rep range for muscle growth I would say 5-8, so if use 5-8 for however big you want to get, once you reach the size you want to be at...keep the weights the same and do 4 sets of 10-12 reps for 3 exercises. This will allow you to maintain your lean mass, but not enough to properlly overload your nervous system and muscles into big growth.

    So say you are db presing 40 lbs for 7 reps. You want to get them bigger, aim to get them to 70 lbs for 5-8 reps over the course of a couple of weeks/months (with a proper diet) and you will get bigger once you hit 70 lbs x 7 reps. If you like the size they have become, instead of adding weight...keep the weight the same, and shoot for more reps (10-12) once you hit 10-12 reps with that weight keep them the same (don't try to increase them). 4 sets are good cause they burn calories (and will help speed the metabolism).

    You can get very bulky using 3-5 reps, I use that rep range in my peak bulk, and it works great for size....with proper food of course.
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  22. #22
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    My dilemma is, I'm getting pretty muscular. I don't really want to get more muscly, but I do want to gain more strength and work on the above targets and maintain my physique. (Later to lose a little fat and get toned look.) Is this possible to do without getting more bulky?

    I understand the toned look is about fat loss.

    Finally, my weights routine is in the lower rep range, heavier weights. Everywhere I read tells me that this is the only way and high reps will not give you the leaned toned (not bulky!) muscular look I'm after. However, this seems a bit of a paradox to my uninitiated mind. Surely the big bulky guys are doing low reps too, so what do I do differently to maintain lean (but strong) look.

    Yes, I know – this is a stream of thoughts like a bad James Joyce novel and a tad unorganised.

    Any thoughts are kindly received and appreciated.

    Thanks
    Are you inquiring about a rep range that will distinguish and therefore display the differences between;

    a) what you do want, muscular, toned muscle
    b) and what you don't want, big bulky muscle?

    Is that the question here? If so, you need to realize, muscle hypertrophy via resistance training is administered via three primary mechanisms,

    muscular tension,
    metabolic stress, and
    muscle damage.

    Low reps vs high reps is just a small fraction of the equation. Further, the output of muscle hypertrophy generated via these mechanisms is going to appear extremely similar. In other words, the difference between 'big bulky' muscles and 'muscular toned' looking ones is simply less total muscle and fat, period. At your height and weight I'm be surprised if you're getting too bulky.
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    @ orks007

    Cheers for the reply.

    Yes, I take your point about strength, muscle gain.

    I think my dislike of too much muscular gains must have offended the Atlas-like Palum-bloke, but it's each to their own. For me, I just want a balanced, athletic body with nice muscular tone.

    I guess if I want to reach my totally arbitrary targets, I'll have to accept a bit more muscle gain. Maybe I'll up the cardio a bit too.

    One question I always, have by the way, and it may be a bit off topic, is do most people who lift weights always try for more weight? ie do they make their targets more weight? And if so, does that mean consequently they are always looking at getting bigger bodies? I mean most people, surely, have a point at which they feel, this is the size for me.
    Whenever someone expresses a fear of becoming too big it illustrates a complete misunderstanding of the time and effort it takes to get big in the first place, as well as the dedication required to maintain that size over time. Check the journals section and see the amount of time and dedication some of these guys have put in to get to where they are and you are in here belittling their achievements by assuming you can somehow get there accidentally overnight.

    To your other point - everyone has different goals. It's a bodybuilding site, so most guys are here for appearance, and even with that - everyone has a different opinion on what they want out of their own body. There are also many powerlifters, and others lifting primarily for strength, in which case the goal is usually to just be able to lift more and more weight. Many people are here for general fitness, and a whole host of other reasons.
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  24. #24
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by pumplikecuming View Post
    Actually I know that 8-12 is reccomended the most for hypertrophy, but in reps 8 and under are what actually bulk you up (with the inclusion of a proper protein and calorie intake).

    And if there was a magic rep range for muscle growth I would say 5-8, so if use 5-8 for however big you want to get, once you reach the size you want to be at...keep the weights the same and do 4 sets of 10-12 reps for 3 exercises. This will allow you to maintain your lean mass, but not enough to properlly overload your nervous system and muscles into big growth.

    So say you are db presing 40 lbs for 7 reps. You want to get them bigger, aim to get them to 70 lbs for 5-8 reps over the course of a couple of weeks/months (with a proper diet) and you will get bigger once you hit 70 lbs x 7 reps. If you like the size they have become, instead of adding weight...keep the weight the same, and shoot for more reps (10-12) once you hit 10-12 reps with that weight keep them the same (don't try to increase them). 4 sets are good cause they burn calories (and will help speed the metabolism).

    You can get very bulky using 3-5 reps, I use that rep range in my peak bulk, and it works great for size....with proper food of course.
    Brilliant. Very clear advice, thank you. I'm going to incorporate some of this.
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  25. #25
    Registered User Gorah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PeterGibbons316 View Post
    Whenever someone expresses a fear of becoming too big it illustrates a complete misunderstanding of the time and effort it takes to get big in the first place, as well as the dedication required to maintain that size over time. Check the journals section and see the amount of time and dedication some of these guys have put in to get to where they are and you are in here belittling their achievements by assuming you can somehow get there accidentally overnight.

    To your other point - everyone has different goals. It's a bodybuilding site, so most guys are here for appearance, and even with that - everyone has a different opinion on what they want out of their own body. There are also many powerlifters, and others lifting primarily for strength, in which case the goal is usually to just be able to lift more and more weight. Many people are here for general fitness, and a whole host of other reasons.
    Don't agree about misunderstanding. What is bulky or not for one person is totally subjective. I am talking about what is right for me.

    Belittling their achievements? I'm crying into my protein shake. They need to be less sensitive then. I'm talking about my goals, my muscle gain, and not commenting on theirs.

    I understand your point, but an insular, know-all prickliness doesn't seem to be the way to comment on someone's different perspective or, indeed, their misapprehensions.

    It gives forums a bad name.
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  26. #26
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    Don't agree about misunderstanding. What is bulky or not for one person is totally subjective. I am talking about what is right for me.

    Belittling their achievements? I'm crying into my protein shake. They need to be less sensitive then. I'm talking about my goals, my muscle gain, and not commenting on theirs.

    I understand your point, but an insular, know-all prickliness doesn't seem to be the way to comment on someone's different perspective or, indeed, their misapprehensions.

    It gives forums a bad name.
    I disagree with people who say you can't easily become bigger than what you want.
    Expecially I disagree with people saying that girls can't become big because they don't have enough testosterone.

    I think it depends on what one means by big or buff. For people here it means Cutler but for other Bradd Pitt might be too bulky if what they want is a Parkour or Bruce Lee body types.

    I know lot of girls who have been told they wouldn't become muscular and after just 5 month of weight training they had bulked too much in areas they didn't like to increase like thighs and butt. And I know many women who have been lifting for years and progressively they have become more and more masculine in their traits and bulked excessively, even if they don't take any anabolic substance, not even creatine.

    It would be easier if we saved the word "skinny" for only those who are clearly undernourished and whose muscles are wasting away and avoid it do describe the small muscles but compact and firm physique type. Then we would also realize that that type can easily become bigger then he wants with just few months of heavy weight training and caloric surplus.

    My advice to you Gorah is to focus on losing fat till you are at least 10% body fat.
    Don't worry if you'll look skinny, if bulky is not what you like, you won't think you look that bad. Then slowly start to add muscles and stop when you're okay with how you look.

    Bulking and then losing fat would be a disaster for your kind of goal.

    Good Luck
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  27. #27
    Squat or remove thy self caerus13's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    Don't agree about misunderstanding. What is bulky or not for one person is totally subjective. I am talking about what is right for me.

    Belittling their achievements? I'm crying into my protein shake. They need to be less sensitive then. I'm talking about my goals, my muscle gain, and not commenting on theirs.

    I understand your point, but an insular, know-all prickliness doesn't seem to be the way to comment on someone's different perspective or, indeed, their misapprehensions.

    It gives forums a bad name.

    You know what your problem is? Your problem is that you're focusing on the things in life that don't really matter. When I was a kid I had hopes and dreams. We all did. But over time, the daily grind gets in the way and you miss the things that really matter, even though they are right in front of you, staring you in the face. I think the next time you should ask yourself "Am I on the right track here?". I don't mean to be rude but people like you I really pity. So maybe you could use the few brain cells you have and take advantage of the knowledge I have given you now. Good luck...
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  28. #28
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    Originally Posted by Wildtim View Post
    In truth your goal is all about diet. No workout plan will make you bulky without the calories to do so. Any workout program will add weight if you eat to much.
    Exactly. The whole "I don't want to get too muscley"/ "I don't want to look bulky" excuse for not lifting heavy, or avoiding certain lifts, etc. is flawed.



    Getting "Bulky" is very hard, the people who have achieved that sort of physique has worked very hard both in the gym and at the dinner table to get there, nobody is going to get 'too' muscular by accident.




    Diet is probably the most important aspect in lifting simply because its takes more willpower to eat clean or to eat higher/lessor calories then to lift or to rest.




    OP a good bodyweight program (Calisthenics and plyometrics) and a good diet is all you need to get "muscular" and "lean."
    Last edited by guest89; 06-05-2011 at 04:20 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Gorah View Post
    It gives forums a bad name.
    No, it's n00bs like you that obviously don't know **** about the topic at hand, and then lash out at others that point out your ignorance or try to give you some pointers that give forums a bad name.

    Why ask for help if you think you already know all the answers yourself?
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  30. #30
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    Originally Posted by guest89 View Post
    Exactly. The whole "I don't want to get too muscley"/ "I don't want to look bulky" excuse for not lifting heavy, or avoiding certain lifts, etc. is flawed.



    Getting "Bulky" is very hard, the people who have achieved that sort of physique has worked very hard both in the gym and at the dinner table to get there, nobody is going to get 'too' muscular by accident.
    Bulky doesn't mean huge. If one is after the body of a hip-hop dancer or parkour runner than Brad Pitt is already too bulky. And while those types of body might seem small to a bber they still have the necessary amount of muscles to perform their tasks. So all is relative. It's clear when someone mention Bruce Lee as an ideal body type that what is "bulky" to him is very very easily to achieve.
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