In economics there is a concept called the law of diminishing returns which basically explains that after a certain point the marginal revenue of your investment starts to diminish, and you will reach a point where the marginal costs are higher than the marginal revenue as shown in the figure below:
When you reach this point, there is no point in investing further. I believe that there are also diminishing returns in training. After training naturally for 2-3 years, your body will already have built the vast majority of the muscle mass it can carry if you have been fueling growth by eating well and training hard. I believe that after this point the best thing you can do, is to get lean, and build muscle mass slowly without obsessing as much as you did in the first few years of training. When you are lean and fairly muscular, your body will be primed to use the nutrients you put into it much more efficiently, and you won’t be able to trick it into huge muscular gains by eating a big caloric excess. Thus, I believe that every trainee that has tried to build muscle for 2-3 years, and gotten lean afterwards, can start to relax a bit. This is what I have been doing; after putting on a substantian amount of muscle and leaning down, I found that I could go out 2 times a week with my friends to drink and eat junk food 4-5 times a week, and still remain at my lean base of approximately 185 pounds while progressing in my training.
A very known dietist Brad Pilon that is the founder of the eat stop eat fasting protocol, views skinny-fatness as a disease. You treat the disease for 2-3 years by training hard and dieting. When you are “cured”, you can start to enjoy life, and put less effort into this. I totally agree with his idea, and I find that at this point my progress remains the same whether I obsess over training or not, thus I started focusing on other areas of my life. Most Divison 1 athletes in college don’t care about nutrition, and they are still progressing in their sports (they have good genetics). This is kind of what happens to you after training and dieting for a long time; you prime your body to use the nutrients it gets more efficiently, and at the same time you are able to train at a much higher intensity, thus you can train for a smaller amount of time, while progressing.
This lifestyle is very enjoyable, since I finally feel ”cured”, however you still have to put in a minimum of 2 years into curing your disease!
And here’s a fun picture to make your day: