It's getting to that time of the year where the summer cut is finally coming to a close and now the fun begins. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to bulk! For those of you just starting out, this is probably all new to you and you really don't understand the concept of cutting and bulking and why things happen during certain times of the year.
For most, fall/winter is the time to bulk and put on some slabs of meat. If they add a little fat during this time, so be it. They will be wearing a lot of long-sleeved sweatshirts; therefore, they can hide whatever fat they might gain.
Then come spring/summer it's is the time to cut and drop the fat you might have gained during the cold months, to show off the new lean mass you added. Not to mention most people go to the beach or go on vacation during these months, so it naturally makes sense to diet and hit some cardio during this time to get in the best shape of the year.
Bulking during this time will have you looking slightly heavier/bloated than if you were cutting. Not to mention fat gains with bulking will be apparent, especially when in a bathing suit.
Now on to the good stuff! We all start from scratch. We aren't placed on this planet knowing everything without learning it. So here I am to the rescue! The rest of this article is especially for the new guys who need some tips on how to effectively bulk. The following are ten tips (in no particular order) to help you on your way to packing on some muscle.
Here is a compilation of things that you should have on your grocery list. You can pick and choose the foods in those categories that you like.
Calories & Meals
While bulking, you want to eat more calories (more than maintenance), and also eat more often. So in essence, you will be eating smaller meals than you would if you were only eating three each day (like normal humans). These meals will consist of protein, carbs, and fats.
It doesn't have to be anything big; it could be something as simple as an apple with peanut butter. But you should strive for at least 6-8 small meals per day. By eating more often you will have a constant supply of fuel throughout the day which is a constant supply of nutrients to your muscles to help them grow.
Not only will it do that, but it will also help keep your metabolism up so you don't start adding body fat. You should also be striving for 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight you have. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you want to get between 150-300 grams of protein a day. Each of these meals can be spread out 2-3 hours apart.
Here is a list of supplements which are great during any time of the year, including while bulking.
*Note: I do not recommend supplementation for anyone under the age of 18, nor is supplementation a replacement to a good diet.
Whey Protein (Concentrate Or Isolate)
Protein is the building block for muscle. Without it, you won't make the gains you are looking for. You can use whey protein at any time of the day and it won't hurt you. There are many different brands and flavors out there; find one that suits your taste buds and isn't overpriced.
You can use it pre-workout, post-workout, as a snack, or add some fruit and throw it in the blender to use as a meal replacement. It is a quick and easy way to get your daily protein intake.
Casein protein is the best protein you can get to keep you anabolic throughout the night. It is a slow-digesting protein which slowly breaks down over a span of around 6-8 hours. The last thing you want to do is go into a catabolic state and lose your hard-earned gains. This protein comes in especially handy before bed when compared to whey.
It is a necessity to purchase a good multivitamin. You need to get proper vitamins and minerals which you can't get from food alone. A multivitamin is essential to help with everyday activities and give you exactly what your body needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Creatine will help you not only recover better, but it will help you gain some lean mass quicker. Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements out on the market today. There are no harmful effects from creatine and it can be used safely before and after workouts. Creatine can safely be used for both pre- and post-workout. There is no need to do a loading phase or cycle creatine.
Fish oil gives you EFAs which are the "good fats" that we all need. Fatty acids are a necessity which most people don't understand. They are important for cellular, heart, and metabolic health. We do not get enough good fats in our diet each day, so supplementing with fish oil is a must.
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. Without protein, gains are minimized. Amino acids are also used to help the brain function properly. Everyone needs BCAAs to help build muscle and recover. Yes, protein powder has amino acids in it, but look at the nutrition label and if they are in low doses, then it is best to get yourself some BCAAs.
Compound movements are what make you grow. Isolation movements are more for shaping muscles rather than jacking up the growth hormones in your body and gaining some mass. Compound movements are the squats, deadlifts, barbell presses, military presses, and similar movements.
They are any movement that requires more than one muscle to execute an exercise. These are the foundation to bodybuilding and bulking.
It's a fact that you don't grow while in the gym. You grow while you rest outside of the gym. Sure, when you have a nice hard pump in the gym and your muscles are swollen and look larger, you think you're getting bigger and bigger with each set. You are incorrect. That nice pump that we all long for is only temporary.
After about an hour those effects start to diminish and you will be about the same size as you were before you stepped into the gym that day. You need to rest your muscles and get adequate sleep at night to help increase growth hormones in your body, which in turn help you gain lean muscle mass. You should be getting no less than 8 hours of sleep per night. Anything less and you will be cutting yourself short with your gains.