Ask any avid gym goer or bodybuilder and they will tell you that wintertime is the time to bulk up and grow muscle. After all, how are you supposed to bulk during the summer when the temperatures are unbearable, and you’re supposed to look your leanest for the beach? You can’t, so you wait until the colder months of the year to arrive. Now, even though bulking season is approaching, that doesn’t mean that you should just start eating more and praying that all goes according to plan. Because chances are that you’re going to get marginally more muscle mass while getting noticeably fatter.
And that’s not what you want. Instead, your goal is to bulk up in a smart and calculated way in order to gain as much lean muscle mass as possible while gaining just a teeny tiny amount of fat, if any at all. That’s why today we are going to go over the five top tips you need to stick to when bulking in order to pack on muscle without gaining unwanted fat.
Top 5 tips to bulk up and grow muscle without the unwanted fat
The importance of a caloric surplus
If you want to grow muscle, you have to eat more. It’s not bro science, it’s science and physiology. You can’t expect to add pounds to your frame if you’re not consuming more calories than you’re expending. When you eat less than your maintenance caloric requirement, you’re invariably dropping weight, so it’s important to up your calories above maintenance in order to steadily gain weight over the course of your bulking phase. To do this without going overboard with your caloric intake, you need to calculate your caloric requirements.
Once you have a ballpark figure, you can start planning your meals and supplements to reach that mark on a daily basis. Of course, always remember that calories are not created equal, and your approach to nutrition needs to revolve around whole protein sources.
Junk food is off the menu
It should go without saying but it’s important to repeat it every once in a while: dirty bulking is not a thing. It’s a way to cheat on your diet and to gain weight fast, most of which will be useless fat that you’ll have a tough time getting rid of. Dirty bulking is a way to get fat, not buff. If you want to do this right, then junk food is off the table for you.
That means no sweets or fizzy drinks, no sugary snacks and calorie-dense junk food. Instead, your diet should contain healthy and caloric homecooked meals, and healthy supplements like protein powders or quality mass gainers that use only quality ingredients. It can be tough, but skipping on junk food is the only way to pack on some serious muscle without getting fat.
Maximizing your protein intake
Protein is the foundational pillar of muscle gain and muscle maintenance, and now it’s more important than ever before to get as many calories from protein as you can. While this doesn’t mean that you should gorge on chicken breasts all day long, it does mean that you need to up your protein intake considerably. Shoot for the amount of protein that’s equal to your target weight.
For example, if you’re 200 pounds looking to bulk up to 225, then you should be consuming 225 grams of protein every day instead of 200 like you’re used to. Consuming so much protein is not an easy task, which is why it’s important to find calorie-dense protein powder for weight gain that has a high protein content per serving along with a high-calorie count to ensure you get enough without having to cook six meals a day. With protein-rich meals and quality supplements at your side, you should have no problem keeping your nutrition clean.
Combining weight training with a bit of cardio
Cardio is usually thought of as a way to lose weight, but when you’re bulking, it can be a great way to prevent unwanted fat gain. Because let’s be honest, the caloric surplus you’re in is bound to make you put on a couple of pounds of fat over the weeks, and a good way to stay on track and keep your six-pack visible is to simply sprinkle some cardio into your training routine. If your weight sessions are extremely tough, then do some cardio on your off days to get that active recovery in and burn the calories you don’t need.
Know when to take a step back
A lot of people will bulk for months on end, thinking that the more they do it, the more muscle gain they’ll have. While it is true that a prolonged caloric surplus is going to yield significant results, at some point you’re going to start experiencing diminishing returns.
You need to know when to take a step back, reassess your nutrition and training, and get back into the fray. As a general rule, you want to bulk for a month, take a mini-cut week to banish any unwanted fat, and then get back to bulking for another month. You can repeat this cycle easily until the next beach season.
Bulking is the best way to grow muscle quickly, but you need to do it right. If your goal is to add pounds of muscle without gaining fat, then make sure to follow these tips and you’ll be looking better than ever by the time you’re ready to lean down for the summer.