There’s a right way to bulk up and a wrong way to bulk up. The wrong way includes junk food, skipping the gym and not having a clue about where you want to be at the end of your effort. If you bulk right, though, you’ll see great results from your efforts and stay healthy and motivated the whole way. Read on for 12 tips to keep your bulk on the right side of the tracks.
Set A Goal
Before you embark on your bulk up, make sure you have a specific goal in mind. According to a research summary in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, setting a defined goal can improve your odds of success. Take a moment, sit down and assess why you want to bulk up, what you want to get from the process and where you want to be at the end.
Keep Track Of Your Progress
Once you’ve set your goal, one of the best ways to make sure you’ve got your eye on the prize is to track your progress. Keep a journal to log your food intake, your workouts and how you’re feeling each day of your bulk. Take progress pictures so you can see your physical changes. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day, but making note of your progress can keep you motivated.
Make Sure You’re Taking Time To Rest
When you’re trying to bulk up, it’s tempting to hit the gym hard as often as you can to build as much muscle as you can. Not giving your body time to rest, however, is going to thwart all of your progress. Remember, you grow outside the gym. According to BodyBuilding.com, your workouts are serving as the stimulus for your muscle growth. Without rest, you’ll have no chance to grow.
Get Quality Nutrition Post Workout
Your post-workout nutrition is key when you’re on a bulk. According to BodyBuilding.com, paying attention to what you eat after you hit the gym is even more important than keeping an eye on your other meals. To maximize muscle growth and recovery, the site says, chug a post-workout shake with whey protein and a fast-acting carbohydrate, like Performance Inspired Nutrition’s Performance Whey Protein powder. Adding a creatine supplement to your shake will only make things better.
Mind All Of Your Macros
While you’re bulking, you’re going to be hyperfocused on your protein, but you shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to forget about tracking your fats and carbs. Making sure you’re meeting your requirements for all of your macronutrients is just as important. Figure out exactly what you need to eat to meet your goals and stick to it.
Keep It Simple
A bulk phase is definitely a change of pace, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated and tedious. Keep your bulk simple and don’t over think it. You don’t need fancy meal plans or complicated workout routines. Just focus on the things you need to do to meet your goal and do those things. Simple as that.
Eat More Often
When you’re trying to get more calories into your diet, jamming them all into three square meals can be intimidating and kind of nauseating. If you don’t want to pack an extra couple hundred calories into each meal, the easiest way to eat at a surplus is to go for smaller meals more often throughout the day. Pack in snacks, plan ahead and don’t be afraid to drink your calories in the form of protein shakes and smoothies. Sometimes you have to adjust and that means making your meals fit your schedule, and staying dedicated.
Don’t Neglect Cardio
You’re not trying to lose weight, so you don’t need a ton of cardio to help you burn calories, but totally foregoing cardio exercises might work against you in your quest for gains. BodyBuilding.com recommends hitting the cardio equipment a few times a week for 30 minutes or so to keep yourself fit, keep your blood pumping and help you train harder. So get out on a run, ride your bike or hit the stair climber. Just don’t completely neglect cardio.
Protein, Protein, Protein
You knew this already, but protein is key when you’re bulking up. What you might not have known is just how much protein you need to be consuming to get the most from your bulk. BodyBuilding.com recommends getting 1 to 1.5 grams or protein per pound of body weight every day. This means if you weigh 185 pounds you need to aim for 185 to 277.5 grams of protein daily. That’s almost 2 pounds of chicken breast. If that doesn’t sound too appealing, look to protein shakes and bars to meet your requirements.
Keep It Clean (For The Most Part)
A lot of people view a bulk as a time to just go nuts, eating as much junk as they can just to get their calories in, not paying much attention to the nutrition in their food. And while chowing down on an entire box of Cap’n Crunch sounds delicious, it’s really not doing you much good. You might be meeting your calorie requirements, but you’re just filling your body with junk. While you’re bulking, try to keep your meals clean. Reach for protein instead of PopTarts, healthy fats instead of Ben & Jerry’s. That’s not to say you can’t indulge in the occasional serving of Chunky Monkey, but make sure you’re not getting most of your calories from junk food.
Embrace The Power Of Nuts
Cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios: stock up. While you’re bulking, nuts are going to be your best friend. Here’s why: they’re a great source of portable protein and fat. Simple as that. According to Muscle & Strength, almonds are the number one food for building gains. One cup of almonds sports a whopping 822 calories and 30 grams of protein. They’re calorie-dense, easy to eat and easy to have on hand.
You Have To Lift
Just like you can use your bulk as an excuse to load up on junk food, you can’t use it as an excuse to skip the gym. Your bulk only works as hard as you do, and if you’re not lifting and still eating at a calorie surplus, you’re not bulking, you’re just gaining weight. There are a ton of bulking workout programs to follow out there. Just make sure you’re choosing one that focuses on building strength as you build size.
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