Today’s episode is part one of a two part discussion about… bulking! We’ve had LOTS of people on our socials ask us about bulking, so ask and you shall receive! We’re going to lay the groundwork for your bulk today by talking about what bulking is, your bulking timeline, and your goals… gotta have those! So, WTF even is “bulking?”
WTF IS BULKING?
- Bulking generally refers to the process of building muscle by gradually increasing your caloric intake to pack on as much muscle as you can at the gym with intense training. You’re going to be consuming more calories than your body needs for a specific period of time. (On average, this time frame will be 4-6 months or even longer, depending on your goals)
- You can’t gain muscle as fast while eating at a caloric deficit… math. SO your goal is to be eating excess calories to put on weight, but here’s the deal… not all of that weight will be muscle, part of bulking means that you may get a little fluffy for a bit, that’s okay… part of the process. If you don’t want to be as fluffy, you can take more time to do a bulk in a slight surplus, and you’ll still see results.
- you *can* gain while in a deficit, but it takes even longer, so if you’re expecting to gain muscle quickly – which, it doesn’t happen that way, anyway – prepare to put your patience boots on.
- If you don’t already know what it is, you’ll want to figure out your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expendature. This will give you a general idea of how many calories your body needs to just live. There are several calculators online
- That’s all well and good, right… but how many calories does this break down to?
- A good general starting point for men and women is a 10-20% increase in total daily calories. This should result in an average of .25 to .5% increase in body weight per week. (.4-.8 lbs per week)
- If after two weeks you aren’t seeing any results, add another 200 calories a day on for two more weeks… take measurements again and repeat the process if necessary.
- Protein in all forms is going to be your best friend and should make up 30-35% of the total calories you’re consuming
- Protein is calorically dense, full of all sorts of stuff that will help your muscle fibers grow. Wanna know more about protein? Check out episode 29.
- There are two schools of thought when it comes to bulking: clean and dirty.
- We touched on this a few episodes ago, but we are going to dig into it a little more today.
- Dirty bulking is when you get a majority of your calories from processed foods, because there’s a ton of extra calories in junk food – No foods are off limits. The problem that comes with dirty bulks is the kind of weight that you tend to put on your body…
- I mean… you’ll get rapid growth of tissues, but it’s likely going to result in more fat.
- A dirty bulk can also lead to some sluggishness because you are probably not eating as many nutrient dense foods.
- Clean bulking is the opposite, you eat cleaner, whole food options most of the time, while still letting yourself indulge in a treat every now and then… remember, you’re not a robot. Planned cheat meals are always allowed, and you should take FULL advantage of them when on a bulk. Get those fries!
- Clean bulking will make the back end of the process (cutting) easier, if it’s needed. This is why we are against the dirty bulk… coming off of eating that much junk food for a long period of time is hard as hell on your brain and your body. And depending on you, this could set you up for failure.
- We are BIG fans of using macros to track your bulking calories.
- We broke down wtf macros are wayyyyyy back in the beginning with episode __ if you need a refresher. BUT, basically, tracking macros is tracking the amount, in grams, of protein, carbs, fat and fiber on the daily.
- The first question you should ask yourself if you’re considering a mass/bulk program is, “What am I looking to get out of this?” You should be very sure of where you want this to go so that you can make goals to support the process.
- Something else that is VERY important to keep in mind is that everybody’s body is different, so the bulk protocol you read on Reddit may not work the same for you as it did for the person who posted it… that’s the fun of fitness and nutrition… you get to experiment a little.
- Be realistic about your expectations, too. You may not look like a Greek god or goddess at the end of your first bulk. That’s okay. You didn’t do it wrong, your body just needs more time to adjust so don’t let that discourage you. Plus, remember that this is a journey. A long one. Muscle takes time to grow. That’s why a bulk takes half a year.
- Make a plan. Write it out, type it up, stick it on the fridge or your wall in the office… whatever. Have an actual plan, because that will make your life easier.
- What foods do you want to eat? you need a plan for that
- Are you going to do meal prep? you need a plan for that
- You’re going to need to figure out what kind of fitness plan you want to pair with your bulk, we will discuss that more next week
- How long should your bulk to be? That’s going to depend on your goals… and here’s the kicker, you could get to the end of your designated bulk period to decide you want to keep going… and you totally can. If you wanna bulk for six months, cool. Wanna bulk for a year? Cool. It’s all based on those goals we just talked about.
Find meal prep tips, meal planning templates and more in the Downloads section.