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Bulking Basics

“It’s bulking season. Just EAT it bro. If it has calories, it’s going in your mouth.”.

This might work if you are a genetic freak (that is almost none of us) or if you are consuming enough drugs to keep Pfizer in business. For the majority, let’s get smart. So sorry if you came here looking for justification to eat crap for 6 months, that ain’t happening princess. While you will get huge, if you are eating uncontrollable amounts of junk food to build muscle, you will get fat, no question about it.

Caveat – If you are a competing bodybuilder or physique competitor, your diet is going to be more extreme. These principles apply to you too, but you should do what you deem necessary for your sport.

Eat Clean

Vegetables, chicken breast, rice, these aren’t things that should be eaten for 3 months of the year before beach season. With all training, your long term health should be thought of. If you are going sustain a healthy lifestyle long term, good food selection needs to be a daily activity.

So during a bulk, the vast majority of your food should be from good clean healthy food sources. Occasionally you can add some junk, but if you are pounding cookies, donuts and ice cream constantly, you are setting yourself up massive fat gain.

Eat Less When Not Training

It goes without saying that during your bulk you will be training very often. However, rest days are a must too. During these days, you are going to still need to hit your protein target, but you can ease off on the carbs and calories. Maybe just reduce your calories by 5-10% depending on your physique, and cut your carbs by roughly 1/3 or more. This will limit the amount of fat that you gain during non-training days. Carbs need to be used, if not, they become extra bits of love handle.

Do Some Cardio

Unless you are an extremely skinny person naturally, do a little cardio. Many guys will use the bulking season as an excuse to let their conditioning and fitness drop. This is just an excuse to be lazy. By perhaps doing a little low intensity fasted cardio, or with one or two sessions per week of bike sprints or rows, you will limit the amount of fat you gain during your bulk. Don’t become a cardio addict, weights are still the main ingredient for your progress.

Water. And Lots Of It.

This has been described as one of the most overlooked aspects of hypertrophy. Getting enough water is vital for all the chemical processes in your body to happen. You will also make sure your system is getting cleaned from the inside. This is because water is used in your body for ridding your muscles and system of chemical build ups. So aim for at least 8 glasses per day, and if you are training, drink even more.

Liquid Calories

You are already drinking good amounts of water, but you can benefit from some calorie dense shakes. Many guys will find it hard to consume enough calories to properly feed hypertrophy, others are just too lazy or busy to cook that many meals. This is where a mass gainer shake can help. Make sure you get a good hit of protein with this shake, and a good slug of calories too. This can be an easy way to add the extra calories into your day, don’t be afraid of them.

Don’t Eat Too Many Calories

Whilst you will need to be eating more calories than your maintenance level, however, doubling your calories or increasing them by a huge amount makes no sense. For a sensible long term bulk, your body needs to adjust to your behavior. If one day you start dumping double the food into your mouth, your body will react, and it won’t be by giving you killer guns.

Find your maintenance level of calories and add around 250 to it. If you need more, then add more, if you are getting too fat, then peel it back a bit.

Don’t Rationalize “Well I’m Bulking”.

It’s not always bulking season, but when it is it can be very easy to get into bad habits when trying to gain muscle. Eating junk food too often, not monitoring what you are eating. When you bulk, your body does not become a black hole, there are consequences to what you eat. Bad eating habits are hard to kick, so don’t form them in the first place. Secondly, overdoing the junk food can lead to insulin resistance, which for you means less muscle gain, more fat.

Don’t Eat Too Little

If you are not willing to increase your food, then you will never gain muscle. It is as simple as that. Your body needs the materials to grow, biceps aren’t made out of air, they require nutrition. Simple point, but an important thing to remember.

Eat More Often

New research has showed that it isn’t necessary to always eat every 3 hours as was always the custom of bodybuilders. However, this method can work for people who find it hard to get all their calories throughout the day If you are not a big eater, then smaller more frequent meals will help you get all the calories in throughout your day.

  • Eat 250 calories above your maintenance level
  • Get the right about of Protein, carbs and fats
  • Lower your carbs and calories slightly on non-training days
  • Do a little cardio
  • Eat clean
  • Train like a wild beast

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