Are you unsure whether to cut or bulk? If so this article on cutting will help you decide. Now if you’ve decided your happy with the body fat levels your at and now want to add some quality muscle to your frame then your reading the right article!
Whilst cutting is a good learning experience I really enjoy bulking. One reason I enjoy it is because bulking leads to a progression in the amount of weight you can lift and lets you focus on strength gains. So let’s start by looking at different types of bulks.
Clean or dirty?
There’s one way of bulking I see many people around me doing. This is known as a dirty bulk. They are on a ‘sea’ food diet. They see food and eat it. Get it? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Dirty bulking is basically eating what you want and as much as you can. Now this is a valid way of adding muscle. As being in a calorie surplus (over maintenance) is anabolic.
‘Anabolic’ is a state where your body releases hormones that stimulate protein synthesis, muscle growth, and insulin. That is a good thing. The problem is that insulin forbids the breakdown of fat cells and stimulates the creation of body fat.
Thus helping the body to produce and store fat. So eating well over your calorie maintenance will certainly cause you to add a lot of fat.
There is only a certain amount of muscle your body can produce monthly naturally. This is dependent on how many years of PROPER training you have under your belt.
One thing to consider is that the more years you have trained the less muscle monthly your body can produce.
Eating as much as much as you can, will not be productive as you will be adding the maximum amount of muscle your body can produce, thereafter you will just be gaining fat.
So in my opinion, this is not a good way to go about it at all.
Fat cells multiply in the body.
As you get fatter, each fat cell grows larger until it can grow no more. It then splits into 2 cells. These cells then grow larger and split again. This means they multiply over and over.
Fat cells never actually disappear (unless you undergo liposuction). They can only shrink. So creating more fat cells in the body does not seem very wise.
Dirty bulking can leave you feeling sluggish and lacking in energy. The health risks involved and the fat gained on a dirty bulk is not very appealing to me, but as the saying goes ‘to each his own’.
This is where you eat an amount of calories that’s effective for muscle building with a minimal amount of fat gain, as you haven’t gone overboard. It also involves choosing what you eat wisely.
In my opinion, this is the best way to bulk. This is what I am currently doing at the minute. This way you;
- Minimize the health risks.
- Physically feel fitter.
- Have more energy
Another thing to consider is that you burn more calories when you train and less when you don’t.
So What Do I Do?
What method I have found to work best is, eating 500kcals over maintenance level on workout days and I eat at maintenance level on non-workout days. I found this has me steadily increasing weight with minimal fat gains. I explain here and provide links to finding your calorie maintenance level and how to calculate the calories of what you eat very easily.
How Do I Workout?
Reps and Sets
The perfect rep range for me is 8 reps. This rep range keeps my strength increasing as well as my size. Anything less is more strength orientated anything more is more size orientated. As I like to apply the newly built muscle to help with speed and power in martial arts, I found that 8 is a perfect range.
I train 4 days a week on a bulk. I train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
I have 2 workouts for upper body, (upper A and B). I alternate between them.I also have 2 workouts for the lower body, (lower A and B). For workout A, I pick 1 compound exercise for one of the major muscle groups
So, for the upper body, this is one exercise for back, chest, and shoulders. I then pick one exercise for triceps and biceps. This covers the whole upper body.
Workout B I do the same, but I choose a different set of exercises for each muscle group. So if I do flat bench press for chest in workout A (upper body), I will do Incline bench press for chest in workout B. I aim to increase the weight for a total of 5.5 lbs – (2.5kg) every session.
It looks something like this;
Week 1– Mon- (upper body) A, Tue-(lower body) A, Thur- (upper body) B, Fri-(lower body) B
Upper Body Workout A-
- Flat Bench Press 3×8
- Barbell Row- 3×8
- Overhead Press (standing)- 3×8
- Dips- 3×8
- Chin ups- 3×8
Upper Body Workout B-
- Incline Bench Press- 3×8
- Pull Ups- 3×8
- Seated Overhead Press- 3×8
- Dips- 3×8
- Chin Ups- 3×8
Lower Body Workout A
- Squats- 3×8
- Step Ups (with barbell)- 3×8
Lower Body Workout B
- Front Squats- 3×8
- Lunges- 3×8
That’s the routine I’m currently on and its working great. I’m adding muscle and strength with minimum fat gains.
When to stop bulking?
I gauge when to stop bulking and to start cutting depending on how I feel at the time. If I feel uncomfortable without a t-shirt on, I know its time for me to end my bulk and go on a cut.
Everyone will be different so there is no definite answer. For example, a 6ft 2″ person who weighs 9stonne will obviously bulk a lot longer than a 6ft 2″ person who weighs 13stonne. Judging by how you feel is always a good choice.
If you want to bulk try this routine out. You’ll most certainly see an increase in size and strength.
Is anyone currently in a bulking phase? What methods have you used that work best for you? Leave your comments below and let me know what you think!