Unfortunately, summer is coming to an abrupt end. Most of you then throughout summer will have worked towards looking as trim and as toned as possible for you to look ripped in your holiday photos for that sexy 'beach bod'. Now though, with Autumn approaching fast, that means shifting the focus from burning fat, back to building muscle. This is why people switch over from ‘cutting’ to ‘bulking’. Here then is my Ultimate Guide to Bulking and Building Muscle.
So... What is Bulking?
A ‘Bulking’ phase then, is whereby you are in a caloric surplus (consuming
above your maintenance calories) and continuing with a weight training routine, so that you can build as much muscle as possible. Your body builds muscle optimally when it has more than enough calories and protein hence why a caloric surplus is required for optimal growth. This is a concept that a lot of people get lost with as they are always chasing muscle growth whilst at the same time trying to lose fat to get shredded. In reality though that it is almost impossible to achieve both at the same time (unless you are new to the gym) and so it is much better to go through a bulking (building muscle) phase, followed by a cutting (losing fat) phase to get the desired results. If you need more help understanding the basics of nutrition then check out my previous blog post.
The Goal of Bulking
You’re main target when bulking then is to build as much muscle as possible. So you put your body in the optimal muscle building state I.E In a caloric surplus, with a weight training routine. As you are in a caloric surplus, the other goal is to make sure that you don’t put on too much fat either. Because of the caloric surplus, you are almost certainly going to put on some body fat as well as muscle, but you want to limit this as much as possible because if you put on excessive amounts of fat during your bulk then it will be much harder when it comes to cutting to lose that fat and to get ripped.
So the headline associated with bulking obviously is that you are increasing your calories and eating more than you would during a cutting phase. This is true, however you need to be careful with just how big a surplus is as you don’t want to be putting on excessive amounts of body fat. You need some way then of monitoring your calories so that you don’t go too far over maintenance. I always suggest when bulking a 10% surplus on your maintenance calories to start with and then adjust from there. If you are typically very skinny and are a ‘hard gainer’ then I would suggest starting at 15% surplus.
Everybody has a different level of maintenance calories. You can work it out using a simple online calculator, however this will not be 100% accurate as there are so many different factors that affect your metabolism such as; age, sex, activity etc. So this level will need to be tweaked through trial and error. If you need help with that contact us @email@example.com
How you monitor this is up to you. Lots of people nowadays use macro trackers such as the My Fitness Pal app. This is great as you can scan all the foods you eat and it will add it up for you. This means each day you can ensure you are consuming the correct number of calories. Alternatively you can just count yourself throughout the day although this may be less accurate. I actually know my body so well now after years of bulking and cutting that I don’t track any macros or calories, however when starting out you definitely want to track in some way just so that you learn how much food you really should be consuming. Again refer back to my previous Nutritional Guide Blog for more information.
Macro Split – Protein, Carbs, fats
As we know protein is essential for muscle growth. For this reason when I’m bulking my protein consumption is my priority. I always suggest getting at least a gram of protein a day per pound of body weight. This is always a good starting place that may need to be tweaked if results aren’t being achieved. I ensure I get that amount of protein by consuming a good protein source with each meal, whilst snacking on high protein snacks and supplementing all that with whey protein.
I then fill out the rest of my calories with carbs and fats. The ratio of each, changes on a day to day basis depending on what kind of foods I want to eat. This is because I choose to use a flexible dieting method for my nutrition whereby I eat what I want as long as I’m getting in my protein requirements and not going over my calories. But me personally on training days I like to keep my carbohydrates high to give me that energy to fuel a great workout. On rest days I will then drop my calories slightly to compensate for the lack of calories being burnt throughout the day.
Put simply then the main things you need to make sure of is that firstly you are consuming enough protein, and secondly you are getting a 10% surplus in calories. It really can be as simple as that. Everything else should fall in to place due to your preferences and needs.
In order to grow muscle you of course need to use weight training to stress the muscles enough that you force them to grow. We have a free training plan on our website that would be a great place to start! But