If you’re anything like us, you get very excited when it comes time to bulk. No more restricting calories, dieting, cardio, etc. Instead of trying to minimize muscle and strength loss you are now looking to get even bigger and stronger. That means your lifts are all going up and your ego is getting a healthy boost. There’s only one problem – most bulks result in gaining just as much fat as muscle, which means you will be spending months cutting when all is said and done. So how can you make sure your bulk goes smoothly ? Check out the article below for our guide to a successful bulk.
1) Track Your Calories
Easily the biggest reason people mess up their bulks is they don’t keep track of what they are eating. If you don’t know how many calories you consumed in a day it is likely that you will overeat and put on fat, or undereat and gain no muscle. That’s why it’s important to make sure you account for every calorie you consume so you know that you are hitting your daily target.
The next question is how do you know how many calories to consume? This unfortunately requires a bit of trial and error. There are tons of BMR calculators online that can help provide you with an estimate on how many calories you need each day but none of them will be 100% accurate for you. Instead, start with their suggestion and see what happens – if you gain 0.5-1 pounds per week then you are consuming a moderate calorie surplus which is ideal for bulking. If, however, you are losing weight or maintaining your existing weight you need to eat more.
Keep in mind that over time your BMR can change as it is influenced by a number of factors such as your lifestyle, training frequency and hormone levels. Obviously counting calories is a bit of a pain in the ass but there are a lot of fitness apps out there that make the process easier. Most of them will allow you to save specific recipes that you eat frequently so you don’t have to add every ingredient each time.
2) Increase your Testosterone Levels
You know why most guys are unable to put on any muscle at all? It’s because their testosterone levels are too low. Testosterone is the male hormone – it gives us our masculine features and traits. While women do produce some testosterone themselves, it’s far less than men produce. That’s why women are typically not as strong and muscular as us guys.
So what can we do to increase our testosterone levels? First of all, don’t jump right to using steroids. Drugs like that are illegal and come with some nasty side-effects. Instead, look at things you can change in your day to day life. For example, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep as this is when your body produces the most testosterone. Also, eat plenty of healthy dietary fats including saturated fat. Make sure you keep your stress levels in check – if you are working a high-stress job consider finding something less taxing on you or at the very least do some activities that will help relax you.
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3) Set Realistic Goals
If your bulk goal is to “get huge” you aren’t doing yourself any favors. First of all, the goal is vague and second depending on where you are starting from it might be impossible for you to achieve that in a single bulk. By setting realistic goals you will set yourself up for success. For example, if you are bulking for 16 weeks then it is unrealistic to set the goal of putting on 30 pounds of muscle. Even the most genetically gifted bodybuilders struggle to put half that amount of muscle on over that time-frame. As a result, you will probably end up putting on a lot of fat.
Instead, aim for 0.5-1 pounds of muscle per week. If you are bulking for 16 weeks, that means aiming for 8-16 pounds of muscle. It might not seem like a lot, but adding 16 pounds of solid muscle mass will drastically improve your physique, particularly if you are relatively new to bodybuilding.
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4) Don’t Cut Out Cardio
Think that you can skip cardio just because you are bulking? Think again. While you don’t need to do high intensity interval training (HIIT) while on a bulk, you should still be getting some cardio for several reasons. First, it is good for your overall health. Second, it will improve blood flow making it easier to get nutrients into your muscles. Third, it will give you more flexibility with your diet particularly on cheat days. By doing a bit of cardio you can eat more if you need to.
Now Get Started
Now that you know the main areas where people fall flat when it comes to bulking it’s time to start designing your bulk. Remember while it might be tempting to gain as much mass as possible there’s a strong chance you will end up putting on more fat than muscle in the end. Instead, gain mass slowly to make sure it’s mostly if not all muscle. In order to make sure you minimize fat gain, consume only a moderate calorie surplus, do some cardio and make sure your testosterone levels are as high as they can be.
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