It might sound odd to those people trying to loose weight that there may actually be people who need help staying on track when it comes to bulking but you’d be surprised! It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to consistently eat in a caloric surplus for days on end and to watch your body gain weight, and possibly even loose some muscle definition. However it is totally worth it if you want to speed up your metabolism and gain more muscle and strength in the gym…and no, you haven’t lost your muscle, it’s still there, it’s just under a little bit more food – food that your body is using to build MORE muscle.
So, here are a few simple tips to help you stay on track…
Avoid Excess Fat
When your caloric surplus is too big; whether that’s too many carbohydrates and/or fats, you’ll put on body fat, no matter how much you’re working out or how fast your metabolism is, so try to focus more on increasing your protein first and slowly bring the others up higher as you go. You want to be aiming for approx 20% of your intake coming from good fat as a maximum and completely cut out saturated fats where possible.
Consume Protein With Every Meal
Protein is the main nutrient you will need when building lean muscle. It helps support the body’s ability to grow more muscle and is not stored as fat as easily as carbs or fats are. You should be trying to aim for around 1-2g of protein per kg of bodyweight. So, if you weigh 55kg, you should be aiming for at least 110 grams of protein on a daily basis.
Too much cardio can actually prevent your body from building muscle, which is totally counteractive while on a bulk. Instead, you should be performing light cardio as a warm-up before each session, so perhaps 5-10 minutes on the bike at a slow and steady pace and then try to incorporate one-two HIIT (high intensity interval training) sessions throughout the week. This will help promote cardiovascular fitness and will help you to shift any extra body fat the bulk is giving you without slowing your bulking progress.
Peanut Butter Is Your Friend
Peanut butter, or nut butters in general are calorie rich and full of healthy proteins that are a great way to up your caloric intake without having to stuff yourself every day. It’s actually simpler than you might think to include on a day to day basis. Having a nut butter on your usual snacks, for example, having a banana with a spoonful of nut butter is not only AMAZING, it’s easy and quick to do. Or perhaps for lunch or a snack you could have some toast with a nut butter on it.
Alternatively, you could just buy a few bags of (Non-salted) nuts and mix them together in smaller trail mix bags to snack on throughout the day. Just a small handful of nuts can be VERY calorie-dense. However, you don’t want to eat too many as they do also contain lots of fat, healthy fat, but it’s still fat.
Perform Compound Lifts
Compound lifts are far better for building mass, thanks to the recruitment of multiple muscle groups that cause an increase in hormone secretion. Focus on heavier reps and ensure you are performing deadlifts, squats, overhead press and bench press (or alternatives) in your routine.
Get Plenty Of Rest
This isn’t a ‘hack’ as much as it is a necessity. Overtraining causes catabolism, which prevents muscle growth. If you’re trying to lean bulk, you’re probably trying to pack on mass by throwing yourself into hard training. Make sure you get plenty of rest and don’t be afraid of reducing the volume of your workouts. 3 or 4 days of training per week will be enough to build mass if you’re eating well and performing compound lifts.
Understand Your Limits
In line with getting plenty of rest, an athlete also needs to understand what they should expect from their bulk, so they don’t over or under compensate. Gaining actual lean muscle mass is tough, and most people can expect a max of around 2.5lb/1.1kg of lean muscle mass per month. For more experienced lifters who already carry significant musculature, this can fall to as little as 3-4lb/1.3-1.8kg per year.
Manage your expectations. You’re not doing a dirty bulk; you’re aiming for a lean bulk transformation. It will be tougher than piling on body fat but ultimately yield better results.
Create Healthy, Calorie Dense Meals
When you’re on any kind of diet, bulking or cutting, you’ll be restricting the foods you eat. On a lean bulk, you can’t just pile junk food into your body or you’ll fail. Most diets allow a cheat meal once per week – but on a bulk you can use the extra calories to enjoy ‘cheat’ style meals more often.
However, this isn’t an excuse to eat pizza and curry as you’d get it from a takeaway. Instead, create healthy versions such as low fat curries, healthy pizzas made with wholewheat and burritos full of veg. When you’re ordering a takeaway, try to choose healthier options. This will help keep you motivated as you bulk.
We hope this article was of interest to you and has given you the push you needed to stay on track.
The Fitness Focus Team