I hear so many talking about bulking up without really understanding what it means.
Often times when people are in the process of bulking up, they are really just becoming fat because they consume so much garbage and excess calories.
Instead of the excess calories turning into muscle, they just turn into fat.
There are many important things to be aware of when bulking up and gaining muscle efficiently.
The obvious aspect of bulking up is that you must lift.
You can eat all the calories and protein in the world, but if you do not lift, then you are wasting your time.
One of my basketball teammates actually believed that he would be bulking up and gaining muscle if he consumed a lot of protein shakes without lifting.
He would consume 2-3 high calorie shakes a day and ended up gaining a lot of weight. I know this probably sounds funny, but I brought it up because I don’t think it is that uncommon.
I feel like so many people view protein as some kind of magic nutrient that it is the sole determinant of a food being healthy or unhealthy, and building muscle or not building muscle regardless of the individual’s lifting regimen.
If you do not lift, you will not gain muscle, plain and simple. If you need help with a lifting regimen, feel free to try out one of the many free workout plans under the category of “free workout plans for men” to guide you on your way to achieving your goals and bulking up effectively.
The second factor, and probably the most important aspect of bulking up and gaining muscle, is nutrition.
You can work out all you want but if you are not consuming sufficient calories and sufficient protein sources, then you are not maximizing your weight training, and will not get the results you desire when trying to gain size.
Figure out what your caloric needs are for your bodybuilding goals before deciding how many calories you need to consume.
Then, use a BMR calculator to figure out how many calories your body burns naturally based on your age and weight.
After doing that, figure out how many calories you burn via your exercise. After you add those two things up, try to figure out how many calories you burn during your daily activities.
For example, if you have a desk job in front of a computer, you probably burn very few calories, but even the walk to the car to and from work, or walking up and downstairs during the day adds extra calories.
Therefore, you must add those calories as well. If you have a high paced job, however, such as a construction worker, you probably burn a lot of calories from your job.
Once you add those calories to your total, to gain the optimal benefits of bulking up effectively, add approximately 300-500 calories to your total to reach your caloric intake goal.
The reason you add these additional 300-500 calories is for the purpose of giving your body adequate energy to allow for building muscle and bulking.
Without calories, your body has no source of energy to allow for the building of muscle and gaining size. This is why nutrition is so important.
You can do all the work of lifting hard and bulking up but if your body does not have the proper tools to build muscle, then you are not maximizing your time and effort.
Try not to consume too much more than the 300-500 calorie limit because all those calories will turn into unwanted fat. Many people consume way too many calories than they really need and end up getting fat instead of building muscle.
Also, when consuming all these calories, do not consume all your calories from bad sources.
Eating is the most time-consuming aspect of bodybuilding and is often the one most neglected. I like to consider bodybuilding to be a part of a healthy lifestyle and I like to consider the specific foods I eat to be a part of that health.
Although a McDonald’s Big Mac may have a lot of calories and protein, it is also very high in fat and the quality of the food is terrible.
And with new research coming out on the importance of gut health, it is imperative you are not sacrificing your health for gains.
Try to find sources of food that are natural and healthy while still achieving your goal. From my experiences, some great bodybuilding foods are pasta, peanut butter (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), eggs, beans, rice, protein shakes, maca powder, avocados, quinoa, rice, collagen, raisins, nuts, greek yogurt, protein bars, and fruits such as bananas.
A tip I recommend because of how hectic life can be, is to prepare your foods on a day where you are not busy for the next 3-4 days.
What I mean by that is, for example, to prepare beans, rice, and peanut butter jelly sandwiches on one day that will be sufficient for the next couple days.
That way when life gets busy, or you are just flat out lazy, you don’t have to spend time and effort to make food as it will already be prepared. This will make the process of bulking up much easier.
Make sure when lifting to consume adequate protein as well. It is important to consume protein after a workout as well as throughout the day to maximize your efforts in the gym when bulking up.
Try to consume approximately .8 g of protein to 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. Therefore if you weigh about 200 pounds, try to consume approximately 160-200 g of protein.
In order to meet your caloric and protein needs, I recommend having 5-6 balanced meals throughout the day to make it easier to consume all those extra calories.
You’re probably wondering why to eat that much protein and if there is any evidence supporting it.
In a study conducted at the Letterman Army Institute of Research in San Francisco, subjects consuming 2.8 g/kg/day that strength-trained intensely, gained 7.2 pounds of lean muscle mass over a 40 day period.
In another study of bodybuilders over a 3 month period, protein was increased from 2.2 g/kg/day to 3.5 g/kg/day. The subjects had a 6% increase in muscle mass and a 5% increase in strength.
According to the RDA for protein, this would be way too high but the RDA recommendations are for average, sedentary human beings, and not for those who train intensely.
The harder you work the more protein you will need, plain and simple.
I would not go overboard with it, however, as consuming too much protein can cause many health problems so try to stick within the limit of .8-1.0 g of protein per pound of body weight per day when on an intense lifting regimen.
Sleep is critical to being healthy and the body heals and grows while sleeping, so this is one aspect of your life that should never be overlooked.
Sleep is critical in getting maximal results when bulking up. When sleeping, the body enters a metabolic phase called the anabolic state.
This is when growth occurs, protein is assembled, tissues rebuild, and energy stores are replaced. This phase of metabolism counteracts catabolism, which is a state in which energy expenditure and the “tearing-down” process of the body take place.
If you do not get sufficient sleep, then you are not allowing your body to recover and to heal from your intense workouts.
I know many of you have experienced not having enough sleep as the world we live in is high stress and fast-paced environment.
Often times, sleep is sacrificed to allow time to finish that big project or that leisure activity, and this can be detrimental to health and gaining muscle.
If you don’t sleep, your workout intensity will suffer and your results will “hit the wall.”
You’re probably wondering how much sleep you, specifically, need, and the only one that can answer that question is you. We all have different sleep patterns and rhythms.
There has actually been a gene found in our DNA that codes for how much sleep each individual needs. You may need up to 10 hours of sleep or only 6 hours of sleep.
To really figure out how much sleep you need, record a sleep log for a week and go to sleep at the same time every day. Without using an alarm clock, record the time you go to bed and the time you wake up naturally and that should give you an estimate of how much sleep your specific body needs.
Although we all have different sleep requirements, our bodies are extremely consistent in how much sleep each of us specifically needs.
What I mean by that is if I need 8 hours of sleep, I will pretty much always need 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is critical if you want to bulk up effectively.
Not overtraining is also very important in bodybuilding and when bulking up.
Overtraining is when you train the same muscle group repeatedly without allowing any time for your body to recover. Not only does overtraining result in excess hours spent in the gym, but it also results in little to no strength gains.
Resting between workouts is crucial. If you work out the same muscle groups continuously without allowing recovery time, you are essentially not allowing your muscles to grow and your goal of bulking up efficiently will struggle to be achieved.
When you lift, you break down your muscles, and when you rest, you are allowing the muscle to rebuild and recover.
Without rest, you will constantly break down your muscles and allow for no growth. If you are a beginning bodybuilder, performing 2-3 full-body workouts per week with 24-48 hours rest between workouts.
For example, if you do a full-body workout on Monday, you would rest Tuesday and Wednesday, do another full-body workout Thursday, rest Friday, do another full-body workout on Saturday, etc.
If you are more toward the advanced bodybuilder spectrum, 48-72 hours is sufficient rest between specific muscle groups. Since you only have to rest specific muscle groups, you can still lift 5-6 days a week without overtraining.
For example, if you lift chest Monday, you could still lift back Tuesday and legs Wednesday because you would be lifting a different muscle group every day. Just allow 48-72 hours before lifting the same muscle group again.
On a split workout plan, you can still workout 5-6 days a week without overtraining, just as long as you allow sufficient rest for each specific muscle group to recover.
In summary, as long as you train hard, eat right, rest between workouts, and sleep, you should be on your way to bulking up, building lean muscle mass, and adding pounds of muscle to your frame!