How to Bulk: Do’s and Don’ts of Bulking
Winter season is nearly upon us, and for you gym-goers – you know what this means. Bulking season is truly the best time of the year. You stop worrying about if you can see your abs, stop counting calories and begin to embrace the bulk strength. To top it all off, a couple months later and the holiday season is upon us – I mean, could we really ask for a better time of the year?
I think not. Unfortunately, bulking isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Just like weight loss can be a struggle, good weight gain can also be a huge challenge.
There are many factors that come into play when we look at the do’s and don’ts of bulking. Metabolic factors, cultural heritage, age, height – there are just too many factors to think about.
In some cases, this is why we find that a basic guideline on how to bulk is the best strategy. In this way, you can have all the information possible to start, then taking a more specific approach to your body is your call.
Alright, enough chat, let’s get into the do’s and don’ts of bulking to help you achieve a strong frame and huge results this holiday season.
Bulking 101: The Basics
The first and most important aspect you need to consider before you start bulking is the basic concept of how to put on weight. Fundamentally, your body is a machine. This machine requires a certain amount of energy (calories) to run effectively each day.
In the case of our body, a surplus of calories would help it to put on weight, but only if we stimulate the body to put on weight.
This stimulation of weight gain is done in the gym. Training with variable rep speeds and using heavy weights is a basic idea we can use to stimulate hypertrophy and allow the muscles to actually grow stronger – this is an important distinction.
When you are bulking it is not just about training more and eating more – you want to train and eat in a way that influences weight gain.
This means eating more complex carbs and training with heavier weights – this is our bread and butter for strength and mass gain.
The Do’s of Bulking
Here is a list of everything you should be doing in order to effectively bulk.
1. Eat Complex Carbs
Foods like oatmeal, sprouted grains, fruit, vegetables – these are all complex carbs that contain a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and of course, complex carbohydrates. This should be your staple nutrient in your diet – especially if you are trying to bulk. The high fibre content in many of these products will help to ensure you are putting on clean weight and not just packing yourself full of belly weight.
2. Eat Adequate Protein
I might be stepping on some toes here but when you are bulking you really should not be consuming an excess of protein. Protein is a nutrient that cannot be stored – meaning any excess is passed as waste or urinated out – with the nitrogen. This is, of course, not what we want when we look for strength and size.
Instead, your best shot during a bulk is to find your lean body mass and consume 1g/pound of bodyweight to that lean body mass.
Example: let’s say you are 200 pounds with 20% body fat. This would make your lean body mass 160 pounds. There is no need to feed that 20% body fat with protein – right? Calculating your protein needs is then based on the formula above – but it is essentially the same amount of protein to lean body mass.
3. Use Supplements Wisely
Let’s be honest, there is a time and a place for supplements. When it comes to bulking there is only so much your diet and training can do for you. At a certain point, you just have to sit back and put a potent supplement to work.
My suggestion would be to use a supplement like Testogen or D-Bal (crazy-bulk). Both of which can help to naturally balance and increase testosterone levels while allowing for clean strength increases. You can buy both on their official websites.
The Don’ts of Bulking
There is a plethora of don’t when it comes to bulking. Let’s get into it.
1. Consume Fast Food
I mean, this is a pretty obvious one. If you regard yourself as a bodybuilder or strength athlete of any kind you really shouldn’t be consuming fast food. It’s not nutritious and it provides your body with a macronutrient split that is all over the place. Pretty simple but – don’t eat fast food.
2. Dehydrate Yourself
Hydration is super important – and many people do not realize that they are excessively low in hydration on a daily basis. You should do your best to consume around 3-4 litres of water daily (about 1 gallon) and this does not take into account your training. On days where you are training hard, you should consume more water to make up for the amount you sweat out.
TOP TIP: Caffeine is one of the more common diuretics many people drink on a daily basis. Avoiding or limiting your intake of caffeine can help to hydrate the body and allow for the best possible strength gains.
3. Have Inconsistent Meal Times
Again, if you are in the world of strength training you shouldn’t be skipping meals. One of the biggest aspects of bulking is the consistency of your effort. If you are skipping meals and consuming food whenever you want the bulk will not be nearly as effective as if you would have just timed everything properly and used your meal timing to your advantage.
I’d suggest timing your meals every 3 hours. Depending on your metabolism this will help to keep everything running smooth and strong.
4. Ignore Good Sleep
Good, wholesome sleep cannot be undermined. When it comes to growing stronger you will always find massive success with complete sleep.
Insufficient sleep will not only put a major damper on your progress, but it can also lower your testosterone levels and put your hormones out of control – which can be damaging to your health.
Getting 7-8 hours a night and having a consistent wake and sleep time is important to your health and success while bulking.
Bottom Line: Bulk for Strength
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is the purpose of a bulk. You are doing this to rapidly put on strength. As such, your training should show this. This means training with high weights, variable tempo and eating the best possible foods.
If you find the urge to bulk dirty and eat a bunch of junk take a moment to stop and think about how this food will help you to grow stronger, or if this is something that will do nothing but harm.
As a serious athlete, you must consider that the basics of bulking will always come with a consistent effort on a balanced and strong strength program.
Related: Clean Bulking for Strength and Size
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.
The website healthychoice.reviews and the information in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Make sure that anything you buy is compliant with your government's laws where you live. Your access is subject to our full disclaimer.
Healthy Choice.reviews is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Read more.