A lot of new lifters want one thing; to get bigger. It is a common theme for the skinny guys up to big guys who still want more. Whether your goal is to add 20 pounds of beef or to become the next offensive lineman for the Cowboys, the route to get there usually involves following a process called ‘bulking up’.
The idea is that you are lifting heavier weights and increasing your overall body mass (including minor fat increases). After you go through a bulking phase you then switch gears and cut up a little. Your larger frame will be able to handle more weight when lifting to create larger and stronger muscles. Then you will maintain those muscles while cutting any extra fat you added to during the process.
Overall this style of gain has been around since bodybuilding’s early days and has been used by many sports athletes as well as bodybuilders over the last 50 years.
Top 10 Bulking Tips
- Heavy Workouts – If you are going for bulk then you need to be lifting heavy weights to build those big muscles. This means your reps should be in the 6-8 range for the most part and you should be pushing to maximum exhaustion on the last set of each exercise every time.
- Compound Exercises – Compound exercises (that work more than one muscle group) are going to get you the greatest amount of size with free weights – not machines. Each workout day should focus on doing at least 2 big compound exercises per body area. You need to include the following exercises: Bench Press, Dips, Deadlifts, Barbell Rows, Pull-ups, Shoulder Press, and Stiff-Legged Deadlift in your routine. It is okay to do a few non-compound exercises such as barbell curls for biceps, but only use one non-compound exercise for a body part at the most.
- Less Cardio – The goal is bulk so cardio should be at a minimum. A nice warm up plus maybe a single day per week for 30-60 minutes to maintain your cardiovascular shape is recommended.
- Post-Workout Meal – This is the most important meal of the day. There is a small window that exists in the 30-60 minutes after a workout in which eating (or drinking) a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates will help trigger an extra growth response in the body from releasing naturally occurring hormones. Never skip this meal.
- Eat More – It is simple math. You need to take in more calories than you burn if you wish to build more size. This means eating more meals a day and not just gorging on your 3 squares a day. Aim for 5 meals a day plus a good snack to feed the beast.
- Watch the Diet – Now just because you are supposed to eat more doesn’t mean it is all Big Mac’s and pizza. If you want quality size and not flab then you need a good diet of solid proteins, complex carbs, and good fats mixed in a ratio of 35/45/20 or so. While measurements do not need to be very precise during a bulk gain, you still need to follow a plan to make sure you get the nutrients your body will need to grow properly.
- Supplements – This is a must for bulking up. You should be taking a good multivitamin, flaxseed oil, and Creatine. A good protein powder is also a good idea to more easily supplement your daily intake. Skip things like ‘Weight Gainers’ as they don’t provide as many good nutrients as quality food does.
- Fluids – You should be drinking plenty of water and juice. Milk and Gatorade-type drinks are good as well. Stay away from coffee, soda, and alcohol because they are wasteful calories that will also dehydrate you.
- Days Off – The body will need rest. You can’t expect to work out like a mad man every day unless you are taking something like steroids (which are incredibly harmful) to aid muscle recovery. So when you are still tired and sore from a previous session make the smart decision and take an extra day off if you need it.
- Sleep – Remember how when you were a teenager you could just sleep for 12 hours straight? That was usually because your body was growing and needed the rest and down time to allow growth to happen. The same goes for you now when you are trying to force your body to grow. You should be getting a good 8 hours of sleep every single night.
If you are working hard in the gym and consistently following these 10 tips and you should be well on your way to bulking up!