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What the fitness industry would not dare to admit and you may not like what I have to say….


Are Oversized Muscles a Biological Liability?

Is your fitness routine rendering your body biologically unfit?

© Ori Hofmekler

I may have violated all conventional fitness codes of honor by even asking such question. This might be considered a crime against bodybuilding. Are oversized muscles a biological liability? I believe they are and so is anything oversized in the body. Here are the facts.


Oversizing is a process where an organism or an organ overgrows beyond its normal size range. Muscle like other tissues has an optimum growth range that evolved to benefit the survival of the species. Any gain that exceeds that range is an overgrowth. And here is the point:

Nature does not favor overgrowth. Neither does evolution.

Excessive growth has been associated with lowered survivability. And so is the enlargement of cells and organs (which is typically associated with disease and aging). These are indisputable facts. Oversizing attracts entropy. The human body could not have survived natural selection if it was oversized.

So what exactly is an oversized muscle? And what makes it a liability?

An oversized muscle is an organ that was stimulated to grow beyond its evolutionary boundaries. What makes it a liability is its adverse composition and functionality. Every animal species on this planet is programmed with organs of specific composition and functionality that evolved to support the species’ biological needs. That’s including the muscle. We’re programmed to develop our muscles as nature intended and not the other way.

The human muscle is inherently programmed to develop and improve in response to physical stress. This process is controlled by genes that upgrade muscle fiber quality along with energy utilization efficiency and overall performance. That’s how muscular development evolved to take place the natural way.

But these days’ things often occur differently than they’re inherently programmed to.

The muscular development process that has been supporting our species survivability since primordial times is all but shattered by modern muscle building routines. These routines are unnatural and counter-effective. And the end result is an overgrown dysfunctional organ.

An overgrown muscle comprises inferior fibers with limited fueling capacities and limited durability; and it fails to serve its main biological purpose. An oversized muscle is fatal to survival.

The muscle community refuses to acknowledge that. Living in a muscle fantasy where “anabolic” is a magic word and “catabolic” is a dreadful loss, members of this community will do anything to oversize themselves. That’s including taking anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs.

But drugs are not the focus of this article. The issue here is much more trivial – The muscle routine itself.

While there has been an ever growing awareness to the lethal effects of anabolic substances, there is little or no awareness to the perils involving the muscle building routine; more specifically the overfeeding regimen that people commonly use to oversize their muscles. Often an abusive routine turns fatal because it seems beneficial.

Such is the case with the “eat to grow” routine.

The Eat To Grow Routine

The eat to grow routine is geared to stimulate maximum growth. It embraces the consumption of 2g protein per pound body weight along with excess of calories mostly from carbs over a 6 meal plan. For the average muscle guy this can translate into a few hundred grams of net protein daily equivalent to a few pounds of meat or 60 eggs and thousands of calories…

Incredibly, this routine is not exclusive to bodybuilders. Muscle building has been a common motto in fitness centers throughout the world and so is the “eat to grow” approach. But what does nature say about that? How would such routine affect your body?

Devastation is probably the right word. It is now known that overfeeding routines are life-shortening. Evolution seems to have selected overfed (and oversized) species for accelerated aging and death. Put it this way: in biology bigger doesn’t mean better.

The Bigger You Get the Harder You Fall…

Nature does not allow organisms get something for nothing. Gain in size may equal loss in longevity. Anabolism isn’t a fair trade. The very anabolic drive that overgrows tissues (and muscles) can shorten life.

That said, muscle gain by itself is not a bad thing, neither is the size of the developed muscle. The enlargement of muscle fibers is part of an adaptive response to physical stress; without that capacity no animal or human could have ever survived.

The issue again is with the overfeeding regimen. Excess intake of calories is the culprit.

Excess intake of calories suppresses mitochondrial biogenesis which is essential for durability and survivability. It also inhibits genes that encode longevity. Chronic calorie overload renders species biologically unfit. And it makes them candidates for extinction. When routinely overfed, animals and humans have been shown increased vulnerability to metabolic syndrome disorders and malignancy.

The more you eat and the bigger you get, the more prone to disease and aging you become.

Yet, calorie overload has been an inherent part of most people’s routines. That’s including athletes who often use calorie overload (such as carb-loading) to boost performance. Calorie overloading regimens have been failing to keep people biologically fit. Apparently, most people have no clue what biological fitness means.

Biological Fitness

The term biological fitness refers to primal survivability. It means tolerability of stress (nutritional and physical) and resiliency to aging. Survival is a key factor and so is longevity. Biological fitness allows organisms fight the elements and survive stressors that would have otherwise killed them.

Unfortunately that no longer applies to our society.

Lacking survival awareness, our society tends to have its fitness priorities twisted. These days muscle strength comes on top of anything else. Athletes trade-off longevity with “maximum performance” unaware of the consequences. The inconvenient truth is that natural selection does not distinguish between athletes and the rest of the population.

In spite of all the hard practice and physical achievements, athletes don’t live longer than average; and like most people nowadays they tend to get overweight and prematurely age.

No matter whether you’re a sport celebrity or an average Joe, natural selection will treat you the same. Give it a reason and it will select you for longevity; otherwise you’ll be selected for disposal. Think how many people today have managed to make a fortune yet utterly failed to keep themselves away from being selected for disposal…how many “successful” guys that you know have been rendering themselves biologically unfit…

Indeed, the survival of the fittest rule of nature will enforce its impact regardless to one’s bank account, social status or muscle size.

Trading Off Health for Sport

The damage caused by the use of calorie overload for sport performance starts at the cellular level. Excess of ATP molecules drives mTOR to inhibits stress protective pathways and literally shuts down cellular defenses. Pumped by mTOR and overwhelmed by oxidative stress, cells become prone to senescence (irreversible aging) and deterioration, as renegade ROS damage cellular proteins and DNA.

If feedings are too frequent and anabolic pathways get overly stimulated, the whole metabolic system will be driven to the brink of collapse.

You can see where this is leading.

As nature trades off longevity with growth, it does not leave many options. You can choose one or the other but you can’t have both. If longevity is your choice, oversized muscles will be a biological liability; and if your choice is to build oversized muscles, your longevity will be rendered a biological loss. There is no way around this.

Unless you figure out how to bodybuild yourself without overfeeding, you’ll need to face that reality.

Consider this:

Today’s muscle guy could not have survived natural selection.

  • A lean body grants better survivability.
  • Fasting helps delay aging.
  • Conventional fitness concepts fail to keep people biologically fit.
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About Ori Hofmekler — founder of Defense Nutrition and author of The Warrior Diet, is a nutritional and fitness expert. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.