Bulking Basics - Big in '08!
The mention of New Year's Eve immediately brings about one thought: resolutions. And in the fitness industry, the vast majority of those resolutions involve weight loss. Maybe that is fine for your average couch potato, but chances are that if you are reading this, you have higher aspirations.
Now, you can follow the crowd and spend the next few months hustling to lose body fat, or you can lose the sheep mentality and look at the big picture: If you live anywhere in the Northern hemisphere, winter is not the time to cut up! Save that nonsense for summer time.
Who cares if you are ripped up underneath a polar coat? Spend the winter months doing what counts - getting bigger. Here is how and why you should spend the next few months softening up instead of dieting.
Why Get Bigger?
Well, for anyone possessing the
testosterone of a field mouse, this shouldn't need to be addressed. But believe it or not, there are guys out there who just refuse to do anything toward gaining muscular size.
These fellas seem to be petrified at the thought of losing their hard earned cuts. Invariably however, these are also the smallest guys. They just need to see the truth: Nobody cares about a ripped up 130 pound dude! It's just not impressive. You need to build the house before you paint it - lay the groundwork of true muscular size before you worry about body fat percentages, veins and other nonsense.
Sure, you may look pretty good with your little physique when the shirt is off, but this is winter! How many times have people asked you if you even work out while the shirt is on? Bad sign! You should be more like a
John 'The Tank' Sherman rolling toward folks than being mistaken for a coat rack.
Now, for the ladies, most of you probably don't want to gain a lot of size. That's good, because you can't. Those of you h*ll bent on getting bigger than your boyfriends have probably discovered alternate means to this, and don't need my help. But for those of you unenhanced females, listen up.
You absolutely should attempt to increase your muscular mass as much as possible, and here is why. Muscle burns calories and it looks great. Check out any top flight natural female competitor and you will immediately understand. They are not huge; it's just not possible. They are shapely and lean, and probably do a heckuva lot less cardio than some of the other treadmill bunnies who forego the weight room.
Most women want to be lean, and the answer is muscle. The more you have, the more you burn, the more you can eat and the less you have to aerobicize. So it may sound funny to recommend bulking up as a means of getting lean, but it's the truth.
What Is Bulking?
Now for the modern definition of bulking. Today we know that bulking refers to a formative stage of development in which a person concentrates on progressive poundages and relatively low volume while ingesting an adequate surplus of calories. Sounds simple, and it is, but it seems to have been really lost in the advertising shuffle.
You don't need rocket science based programs or a refinanced mortgage to afford the supplements needed to grow to your genetic maximum. On the other hand, you don't want to follow the methods used half a century ago, which advocated massive quantities of food and huge gains in body fat as a consequence.
It is true that bulking increases body fat, but this is because the human body simply doesn't like to add muscle without some increase in fat. You might keep the same percentage of fat, but the total fat has increased. Not a problem as long as it is kept to a manageable level, usually around ten percent body fat if you have competitive aspirations, or around 15 if you don't. So we want to stay reasonably lean (visible abdominals) while really concentrating on putting up some big numbers on some basic movements.
Now let's talk about those basic movements. The most important exercises, the ones that give you the most bang for your buck(et of sweat), are the ones that use the most muscle. That is, they are the most compound movements. Forget about cables, even most dumbbells, and never let the term "isolation" pass your lips.
The Big Three are where most of your effort should fall: the Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. Try to use the real things if possible, in other words, a smith squat is not the same as a regular, honest to god barbell squat, and no, that funky Deadlift machine won't cut it.
Get in the trenches and use the basics. Pick one or two movements per body part and only two or three hard work sets. You don't even need a fancy split. Many of the biggest and strongest bodybuilders built their foundation on simple upper/lower splits with a day of rest between.
As far as reps go, do a month of ten's, a month of six's and finish off with a heavy month of triples. Rest a week and repeat. It really is that simple. As long as you are not afraid of hard work, it will work.
Diet during bulking phases should focus on lean meats, especially beef, whole eggs, some rice and oatmeal and lots of vegetables to keep it all moving. Split your day into five or six meals and try to make at least one liquid in form. This will give your stomach a rest and is very practical.
There are a million products out there but my clients stick with Ultra Size from Beverly International. Three scoops plus a tablespoon of healthy fats, shaken for ten seconds and that meal is covered. Measure your bodyweight and your food quantities weekly.
As long as you are gaining 1-2 pounds each week, fine. If not, bump up the portions. If you are getting overly fat, cut back on the rice and oatmeal. Eat clean but don't kill yourself.
The occasional cheat meal is only bad if it makes you miss your next meal. Gaining about 15 pounds per cycle is common and represents fantastic progress. Repeat the process before summer and you can be carrying a ton of new muscle.
Cheat Meal Articles:
It is probably best to employ this bulking routine with a buddy who is spending the next few months in a heavy dieting phase. Seeing his misery will really help you to realize the superiority of this plan, and encourage you to work even harder.
While he is shrinking, getting weaker and missing out on tasty holiday foods and fun parties, you will be growing bigger and stronger each day. And when the time comes to define your new mass, your newly increased metabolic rate will make it a breeze compared to your scarecrow buddy. Go check on that guy, really. He looks like he needs to join a gym!
About The Author
I am 33 years of age and currently reside in Phoenix, AZ. I have been training for about 20 years, and competing for 17. I am a lifetime drug free athlete, and enjoy competing in bodybuilding, powerlifting and full contact fighting. I have won my state and city titles, and the NGA Mid Continent USA in the junior class. I am 5'9" and compete around 180.
I am certified through the American Council on Sports Medicine (ACSM) and am a Clinical Exercise Specialist through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I have worked in health clubs and for a hospital wellness center, and as a private personal trainer for many years.
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences in preparation for medical school. Bodybuilding and disease prevention are my passions, and I am constantly expanding my knowledge base on a daily basis.