Bulky Body vs Lean Body: Which Is Better?

Bulky Body vs Lean Body Which Is Better?

If you find yourself in the gym, you are sure to hear the terms “lean” or “bulky.” These terms refer to someone’s physique. Lean is more elongated, sleek muscles while bulky means larger and more pronounced muscles. If you are just starting your fitness journey, you might be wondering which one is better to strive for.

Bulking and gaining lean muscle are two very different goals which require different lifestyles. Lean muscle has less fat surrounding the muscle tissue, giving a slenderer look. Bulking muscles have more mass which results in a larger appearance. A bulky frame will allow a person to lift heavier weights, while a lean body is better built for speed and endurance.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between a lean and bulky body, the pros and cons of each, and how to achieve these body types. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

Is It Better to Be Lean or Bulk?

Working out with the goal of being lean or bulky is entirely a personal decision. It all depends on which kind of body type appeals to you, how you like to work out and what kind of activities you want to achieve.

For example, if you would like to participate in body-building competitions, you will want to get on a bulking plan. But, if you want to run marathons, a lean body will better serve you.

A lean body type is more athletic with toned muscles. This helps perform explosive movements. A bulky body type is strong and able to lift massive amounts of weight. This body type is more desirable for some, as you can see pronounced muscles.

Is It Better to Bulk and Cut or Lean Bulk?

The methods of Bulk and Cut or Lean Bulk refers to the way in which we use our diet for a desired body type.

Bulk and Cut

This method consists of a bulking diet and includes calorie-dense foods to promote “gain,” followed by a cutting diet focuses on nutrient-dense, lower calorie foods to stimulate fat loss. This is faster and easier if you plan to compete in body building competitions.

Lean Bulking

Unlike Bulk and Cut, lean bulking involves a targeted diet that focuses on adding muscle but not fat. Lean bulking produces better long-term results than the Bulk and Cut method. Additionally, it is easier to stick to a lean bulk diet over time.

Ripped Body vs Bulky Body

A “ripped” body refers to one that is closer to a lean body. Usually when people are trying to get ripped, they will “shred.” This means, burning more calories than consumed.

The difference between lean and ripped is that there is more focus on weight training in order to build muscle.

A bulky body has high muscle mass. Bulky muscles are larger in size and produce more strength.

Lean vs Bulk vs Cut

The difference between lean muscle, bulk muscle and cutting can be seen below. We’ve broken it down by definition, diet and workouts.

DefinitionToned muscle, slimmer physiqueBigger, bodybuilder-like bodyA body focused on fat loss, not a long-term goal
DietNutrient rich, low-calorie foods that promote fat lossNutrient and calorie dense food that promotes muscle growthSimilar to a lean diet (nutrient rich, low calorie) but more intense for faster results
WorkoutsAerobic, high calorie burning and high intensityStrength training to build muscle growthFull body workouts with a combination of cardio and strength

Bulky Body Benefits

To determine which body type is best for you, it’s a good idea to break down the pros and cons of each physique. Below you will find a list of the benefits of a bulky body:

  1. Desired Look – Many people work out with the goal to look muscular, especially men. While bulking, you will build large muscles that are easy to see compared to someone with lean muscle.
  2. Strength – Those muscles aren’t just for show! With greater muscle mass comes greater strength. This can come in handy during everyday activities as well as training.
  3. Fast Metabolism – Weight training is a great way to boost your metabolism. This is because muscles require more energy than fat, which makes them burn calories faster. The more muscles you gain, the faster your metabolism works!

Bulky Body Disadvantages

Each of these body types comes with its own set of cons as well as pros. It’s up to you to decide which will work best for you. Here are the disadvantages of training for a bulky body:

  1. No Training Freedom – When bulking, you will primarily only be training to build muscle. This means strength training. For some, this can get boring and repetitive. Compared to training for a lean body, which can incorporate many different workout types.
  2. Popular “Dirty” Bulking Method – As we mentioned earlier, “dirty” bulking is using steroids or consuming unhealthy amounts of food in order to bulk. This can be popular in the body-building community. This method is not a healthy way to achieve your goals.

How to Achieve a Bulky Body

Achieving a bulky body is a mixture of two things: proper diet and strength training. Most likely, you will need to have a surplus of calories in order to provide your body fuel for the work it will be doing. This means adding protein and healthy carbs.

In addition to a good diet, you will be strength training to build muscle mass. You will be lifting heavy weights. Each day or week, you will be pushing the limits of how heavy you can go, gradually increasing.

Here are a few of the most popular strength training exercises for building a bulky body:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Military Press
  • Bent-Over Row
  • Bench Press

Starting with these exercises is a great beginner’s plan. These movements work several muscle groups at once, so they really pack a punch. Begin with 3 sets of 10 reps each, and build from there by adding more weight, or adding additional exercises to your routine.

Supplements for Bulking

Outside of diet and exercise, you may want to incorporate supplements to aid in your bulking journey. There are a few supplements that have been proven to do so.


Creatine provides energy to your muscles. Taking a supplement of this molecule promotes muscle gain and strength.

Our pick: Bulk Supplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder


Finding protein-rich foods to add to your diet can be difficult. You can achieve this through a supplement. The one we’ve linked below is an Amazon Best Seller with over 80,000 reviews.

Our pick: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder


This supplement minimizes muscle fatigue which gives you the energy to work out more frequently and powerfully. You can take this as a capsule or mix a powder with your other shakes.

Our pick: Bulk Supplements Beta Alanine Powder  

Lean Body Benefits

Now that we have covered the pros and cons of a bulky body, let’s move on to those of a lean body type. Here are the benefits of training for a lean body:

  1. Ability to Vary Training Methods – Bulking will require lots of strength training, while training for a lean body allows you variation. Weight circuits, plyometrics and various cardio exercises can be combined to achieve a lean body.
  2. Increase Mobility and Endurance – With less body fat or larger muscles weighing you down, you will have increased mobility and flexibility. Cardio exercises needed for a lean body will increase endurance.
  3. Easier to Maintain as you Age – Maintaining a bulky physique requires disciplined training and diet. Staying lean also requires a routine, but one that is easier to continue as we grow older.

Lean Body Disadvantages

Just as a bulky body has it disadvantages, so does having a lean body.

Below are the disadvantages to training for a lean body:

  1. Caloric Deficit – To maintain a lean body, you need to be in a caloric deficit. (Less calories consumed than burned). This can have negative effects such as being fatigued or weakening the immune system.
  2. Not as Strong – With a lean body, you will not have as much muscle mass as someone who is bulking. This results in your body having less strength.

How to Achieve Lean Muscle

A lean muscle body will mostly be achieved by remaining in a caloric deficit. You will need to limit the number of calories you are consuming to at least 200 calories below what you are burning each day.

For exercise, you will want to focus on fast-paced, intense workouts that burn high amounts of calories. Here are a few workouts that promote a lean body:

  • Running/Rowing
  • Spin or Cycle
  • High Intensity Interval Training
  • Plyometrics
  • Minimal Resistance Training

Supplements for Lean Muscle

Similar to building a bulky body, you can also take supplements to promote a lean body. Below are the best supplements to help you reach that lean body goal:


When training to be lean, protein will help fuel your body. Using a supplement will also help keep your calories down when trying to get the recommended amount of protein needed.

Our pick: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder


This is a naturally occurring amino acid that supports the breakdown of fatty acids for energy. Including this in your routine will boost your metabolic rate helping you burn more calories and stay in the caloric deficit.

Our pick: L-Carnitine 1,500 mg High Potency  


Caffeine is often used in pre-workouts. This gives you the extra push needed to continue through your strenuous workouts. You can find this in pills, powders, energy drinks or a cup of coffee.

Our pick: Caffeine Capsules 200mg

Is It Better to Be Lean or Strong?

Being lean and being strong are both great goals when going to the gym. There are differing opinions on which one is better than the other.

Maintaining a lean body involves shedding fat to reveal a more natural looking muscle. It is easier to keep this physique as we grow older. This is because it provides more flexibility in the workout routine. But, keeping up a caloric deficit can be dangerous.

On the other hand, some feel that building strength is more important than being lean. This is because it is said that building muscle mass boosts your metabolism. Additionally, it is said to be easier to bulk and then become lean, rather than vice versa.

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Jordan Donahue

Jordan is a freelance writer with a passion for personal fitness that began almost 10 years ago. She loves pushing herself to her limits with various workout styles including cross-fit, cycling, boxing, HIIT, and many more. Through her writing, she encourages others to reach and exceed their own fitness and health goals.

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