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Is bulking a sin? The premise of this question is fascinating for a number of reasons, but the short answer is “no”; bulking is not a sin. However, if not careful, it can be. With that answered and out of the way, let’s take a moment to analyze why it isn’t a sin, and when exactly it can become one.
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Let’s begin with having a common understanding and definition of what exactly constitutes a “sin”, that way there is no confusion or ambiguity when drawing a conclusion on the topic.
In general, “sin” is furtherment from God, but if we want to avoid being obtuse and broad, there are a number of ways to precisely define this noun. We have the option to take a literal approach and rely on a dictionary definition; be analytical and either look at etymology or theology; or, lastly, the most obvious route is to see what is said about sin in the Bible.
In this instance, I wish to use the Bible for reference instead of anything else since the concept of sin is rooted in Christianity and those who would be concerned with bulking and its relation to sin would be Christians rather than theologists or analysts. There are several verses dealing with the topic of sin but the most often quoted verse is 1 John 3:4 (NIV), that states “… sin is lawlessness”. From here, I would infer sin to be lawlessness in the eyes of God, but how do we know what God perceives to be lawful or lawless? Well, once again we have the Bible for that; numerous verses detail and list acts that constitute as lawless or sinful.
So, the Bible tells us broadly what is sinful and we can make comfortable extrapolations into contextualizing situations that are not directly mentioned in scripture so that we can always, more or less, tell what is sinful. However, where does bulking come in and how does it relate to lawlessness in the eyes of God? For this, we turn to the idea of gluttony.
The Sin of Gluttony
As is commonly known, gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins and it entails greed and excess. This is where the connection with bulking comes in; it too entails excess – in the form of excessive eating. However, with that said, this is where the similarities between gluttony and bulking begin and end.
Key to gluttony is an excess that is never-ending; greed is insatiable, and will continuously fester without an apparent end. Bulking, on the other hand, has an end-goal, which means it eventually stops and can be satiated. When one bulks, it is usually done with a mind to either increase strength and/or physical size, or eventually cut down to a desired look and size. This is the simple reason why bulking is not outright sinful, but like all things in life, the situation isn’t black and white.
The Pitfalls of Bulking
Now, earlier, I mentioned that without due diligence, bulking can become a sin. “How?” You wonder, quite simply actually, and a lot of people fall victim to this without realizing it until they’re deep in it. Bulking can become a sin when it becomes gluttonous, and this occurs when people are perpetually bulking as the end-goal has been lost.
A recurrent joke among lifters who incorporate bulking for whatever end-goal is that “it’s always bulking season”. This joke is meant to insinuate the fundamental role of bulking and how it is a core element in trying to increase size and/or strength. However, bulking can be problematic and any lifter worth their dime knows and warns that the bulking phase is a slippery slope; without proper plan and care in place, it’s easy to start bulking and never quite stopping because you’re never satisfied with results, or because you don’t know how to incorporate a bulking routine in your diet (this introduces the arguments concerning dirty bulking), or because you don’t know how to monitor your calories intake and keep missing your mark.
In simple terms, you can begin a bulking phase and it never ends. This is how we come across a case of gluttony; this type of bulking isn’t necessarily greed at work, but it is excess (as it’s ceaseless).
Additional Problems with Bulking
Bulking isn’t necessarily easy and gluttony isn’t the only pitfall surrounding the act of bulking. There are plenty of other shortcomings that aren’t readily obvious to some. Developing body dysmorphia, obsessive compulsions, depression, vanity, and an unhealthy relationship with food are just some of the examples that can derive from bulking – sin is just one interesting byproduct that isn’t readily obvious or considered by many (and rightly so I would argue since we’ve concluded it’s not a sin).
With these in mind it may lead some to ask, “Is bulking worth it?” and the answer to that comes down to your personal goals and what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to build muscle and/or strength then that can be done in a caloric deficit, maintenance, or surplus, but if you want to build size that can’t be done outside of being in a surplus, and bulking is that surplus state.
Looping the topic, and tying it neatly back to the beginning, I would think that the thoughts on whether or not bulking is a sin doesn’t necessarily come from it being in conflict with Christian doctrines and values, but more so it emerges due to the repercussions that some people get caught up in when eating food in excess. These negative effects (body dysmorphia, poor eating habits, etc.) may have encouraged some to look at the process of bulking with disdain and label it as something sinful, immoral, and to be avoided altogether.