Do you want to add muscle effectively during the bulking season? Read on for our no nonsense guide to bulking up!
This is our no nonsense guide to bulking up!
It is optimal that, during the winter and the summer, certain adjustments have to be made to everyone’s diet for obvious reasons. This led to the idea of the bulking season and the cutting cycle. The bulking cycle can start as early as September and end as late as April. During the bulking cycle, the primary goal is to add slabs of muscle mass to the physique. There are a variety of tips being spread throughout the internet and magazines. I would like to propose the best five natural tips for bulking. All these tips are not in any specific order, and all are equally important for a successful bulking up cycle.
Start Your Bulking Diet Slow
Firstly, you must start a SLOW BULK; progressively increasing your calories is the best path to take. You may need 1-2 weeks of adjustment prior to reaching the final calorie intake per day. It is important to understand that you must not initiate your bulking cycle with an excessive calorie intake; this will most likely result in abrupt fat and water gain. Before you start the gradual increase of calories, you must set a maximum body fat percentage that you are willing to reach whilst bulking: for me the ideal body fat percentage for bulking is 11-12%, while others successfully reach 14-15% and have no problem cutting fat after that.
A Clean Bulking Diet
Secondly, keep your bulking up diet plan as CLEAN as possible; if you see that the calorie demand is not met with clean foods, then try to include liquid calories such as a glass of milk with 4 blended bananas which is my favourite weight gain shake. Also, I sometimes add whey protein powder within my shake to make it richer in proteins. For optimum health and wellness, even if you are a hard gainer, attempt to eat foods that are not only rich in calories, but also rich in nutrients (this obviously excludes junk-food).
Casein For Bulking
Thirdly, keep your body anabolic overnight; during the night time, when we are sleeping, our body is at danger of falling into a catabolic state. In essence the time you spend sleeping is the time your muscles recover; fueling your muscles with casein protein is ideal at those times. Casein is a protein, mostly found in dairy products, which is slowly absorbed by your body as it takes longer for the body to digest the protein. Having a slowly degradable protein within you at night is ideal as it will cover your needs for the longest part of the night when you receive no other fuel.
Carbs for Muscle Growth
Fourthly, alterations must be made on your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake. While, during cutting you focus mostly on altering the energy source of your body—from carbohydrates to animal fats—during a bulking cycle, the ideal would be to increase your carb intake in an attempt to fuel your body with energy. During an increase in carbohydrates you will experience an increase in strength, muscle size and a higher feeling of well-being. It is important to understand that the body uses carbohydrates as energy to breakdown proteins and without that energy building muscle is virtually impossible. An ideal protein intake for gym users is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (2.2 pounds equal 1 kilogram), 3.2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight, and 0.4 grams fat per pound of bodyweight. But keep in mind that these values may change drastically for the sake of increasing calorie intake during bulking season. I, personally, alter my carbohydrate intake up to 4-4.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, while keeping other values stable, during a bulking cycle.
What Is Your Body Type?
Lastly, before initiating your bulking cycle, make sure to identify your body type. There are three major classifications of body types: Ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Understanding your body type is something crucial as it allows you to set a realistic calorie intake. Furthermore, it must be noted that people may fall amongst two categories of body types, for example I am a mesomorph as I add muscle easily but also add fat faster than ectomorphs. However, simultaneously, my bone structure is small and therefore I also fall under the category of an ectomorph. I am currently bulking at around 11.5% body fat with a daily intake of 2,500 calories. A pure ectomorph may need to bulk with up to 3,500-4,000 calories to successfully build muscle, whilst an endomorph may need to bulk with 2,500 calories and perform cardiovascular exercises certain days a week.
By Pantelis Vagionas
On behalf of Bodybuilding Warehouse