The term – bulking – I don’t believe to be congruent with the actual goal of many people, who instead of simply aiming to bulk up are in fact looking to pack on some lean muscle mass. If in fact the goal is solely to ‘bulk’: add on size inclusive of muscle, fat and water weight then this is fairly straightforward and the rules are far less rigid. However if the aim is to add actual muscle mass then you must be prepared to take on a more disciplined approach, which factors in more than simply ‘calories in, calories out’. The reason why I prefer this methodical approach is because it allows the body to add muscle without the addition of gaining fat, something that – sooner or later – will need to be addressed regardless.
Be smart and strategic with carbohydrate intake
The majority of your caloric intake consumed during a development phase such as this will come from carbohydrates, as this enables the body to replenish glycogen stores and deliver vital nutrients to the muscle tissues, enabling the muscle to recover and grow – essential for a bulking phase. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal and their metabolic response once ingested will differ greatly dependent on the glycaemic index. Ideal options to make up 90% of this intake will come from low GI, natural sources such as sweet potato, yam and Legumes. The other 10% should be high G.I carbohydrates sources such as fruit and pasta, these food types should be consumed immediately after your training session, which will allow for faster glycogen replenishment and improved muscle recovery speed.
Log your lifts
In order for a muscle to grow it must be exposed to new stimulus, this can include an increased amount of weight, a change to the lifting tempo, increased reps at a given weight or reduced rest between sets. The only way you can be sure that progress is being made in this area is to log your lifts during your sessions. Although this can make workouts feel slightly more mechanical, it is the most accurate way to measure progress and muscle gain.
Ensure you surpass calorie expenditure
There’s no denying the fact that muscle needs calories to grow and you must be consuming more calories than you are expending on a consistent basis. The first thing to understand is how many calories you typically expend on a daily basis, to find this out complete the calculation below:
Once you’ve established this, you can then structure your calorie intake accordingly. Over time you’ll become familiar with the quantities of food you’ll need to consume on a daily basis, meaning weighing out your food will only be a short term necessity.
Rest and recover
Falling into the mind set of believing that you grow whilst you are training in the gym will lead to excessive amounts of training and muscle breakdown as opposed to muscle growth. Aim to get at least 2 days of rest in incorporated into your weekly training, although this will differ from person-to-person based on genetics and training intensity.