When it comes to bulking in bodybuilding, it simply refers to a period of time, usually the course of a few weeks, in which someone is intentionally trying to gain weight to increase muscle mass. The body can only be in 1 of the 3 main states of being when it comes to dieting: 1) Deficit: eating too few calories compared to what you burn daily so you will lose weight 2) Maintenance: Eating just enough calories compared to what you burn that you neither gain weight nor lose weight. 3) Surplus: This is when you consume an extra amount of calories daily which allows some to be stored and eventually used to build up muscle and fatty tissue.
When it comes to bulking, you will need to be in a calorie surplus in order to gain the weight you desire. However, there’s 2 approaches to this. You can try the easy method that 90% of people prefer to gain size and that means no diet restrictions. You are allowed to eat anything and however much you desire simply because your end goal is gain weight. If you’re like me, and you wish to gain muscle mass only and as little fat as possible, you need to enter into a state of a calorie surplus that is controlled and carefully tracked so that you gain weight as muscle tissue only while adding minimal fatty tissue.
Count Your Calories
My first tip for bulking and gaining size while trying to remain as lean as possible is to first find out how much calories you are currently eating and see how they changes your bodyweight. For example, if you have been recorded eating 2000 calories a day but your weight hasn’t gone up, increase it. This is where people mess up. Most people believe that they should just eat whatever and however much they want when bulking. This is the absolutes worst method to take, no question about it.
If 2000 calories doesn’t allow you to gain weight, increase it in small increments weekly from around 100-200 calories a week. These calories should be added in the form of carbohydrates, which equal 4 calories per gram. So adding 200 calories a week means you will add 50g of carbs per week. This should be the only adjustment you make as your protein intake should remain around 1.5x your bodyweight but for grams. So if you weigh 100lbs this means you will consume 150g of protein. This is a simple way to explain it. By keeping our fats low it allows us to add those extra calories to protein and carbohydrates to avoid over eating too much, which results in fatty tissue being added.
Choose the right foods and supplements. Many people try mass gainer protein powders and it works for them. These are simply protein shakes that require a larger amount of powder measured in grams to be consumed compared to normal. These powders also contain very high amounts of protein, around 50g per serving, high amounts of carbohydrates, up to around 60g per serving, and way too much sugar. Its because of this high amount of nutrients that will result in weight being gained or mass being added, hence the name “Mass Gainer”.
Although a mass gainer is something I never recommend or take personally, if you are someone who struggles to be able to consume enough food to gain weight, is too busy to consume real food as needed, or simply enjoys the taste of protein shakes, a mass gainer can be your best friend for increasing muscle tissue. Make sure you read the labels on the products you buy and search for the powder that has the lowest amount of sugar as possible.
Don’t Forget Cardio
My next tip is keeping your cardio steady. Perform a few sessions a week of high-intensity interval training or sprints per week to help make sure that your calories aren’t going too high and help avoid any excess fat gain. But people will say, “I don’t care about the fat I just want to gain size so cardio is not an option right now”. Yes, cardio will mean a slightly lower amount of weight increase, however, it will ensure that from the weight you do gain, most of it will be in the form of muscle tissue and very little fatty tissue will be added.
Consistency Is Key
Stay on track and be consistent with your food. If your goal is 2500 calories a day, do your best to stay close to that range each and every day. Stay in a range of around 200 calories meaning 2500 +/- 200 means to consume between 2300-2700 calories per day, each and every single day of the week. Since you’re bulking, this will still be a calorie surplus, but by being consistent over time your body will begin to adapt its natural metabolism to this higher amount of calories. Although a higher metabolism means that you will burn more calories to help lose weight, it will not only make cutting and fat loss easier over time, but it will make sure that during your bulk that gain as much lean muscle tissue as possible and avoid fatty tissue.
I also recommend finding lean snacks you enjoy that contain high amount of protein and carbohydrates while remaining low moderate in fat. Foods like nuts, jerky and even canned tuna are great sources of protein rich foods that one can eat to help increase muscle mass while avoiding the excess fat being added. Its important to remember that just because you are bulking that it doesn’t mean to eat whatever you want and however much you want. Track your food and understand how much of each nutrient you are eating and adjust it over time as needed. By making these adjustments you will be able to keep gaining muscle tissue during your bulk while increasing your metabolism at the same time.
Take Home Message
Although these are just a few weight gain tips I have for someone to have a successful bulk, I strongly believe these are the most important factors to help ensure that during your phase of bulking that you gain as much lean muscle tissue and as little fatty tissue as possible. Increase your foods slowly over time the right way, not the method of eating whatever and however much you want, and I promise, that even though it will take longer, the results will be so much greater as far as body composition goes.