Winter is approaching which means it's the perfect time to begin bulking. We can finally trade in our cuts for some quality mass and strength. If we start now we can get a quality 5 or 6 months of bulking before cutting for the summer.
What is the best bulking diet? What are some of the best foods for bulking?
What are the best supplements for bulking?
How long should one bulk before they begin to cut?
Do you think it's better to bulk for longer periods of time (6 months), and then cut, or bulk for shorter periods of time (6 weeks), and then cut? Why?
Bonus Question: Are you going to be bulking during the fall/winter? If so, will you be doing anything different this time around, or will you bulk like always?
Show off your knowledge to the world!
1st place - 75 in store credit.
2nd place - 50 in store credit.
3rd place - 25 in store credit.
1st Place - Blink41
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
Bulking is my favorite part of bodybuilding. The reason for that is simple, I get to eat the foods I want and watch my strength go through the roof. I don't need to worry too much on the amount of fat I'm consuming because my cut will take care of that. When it comes to bulking, there are three types of bulking you can do; clean bulk, bulk, and dirty bulk.
1 Clean Bulking:
Clean bulking is basically when one tries to pack on as much lean muscle mass as possible while strictly watching the amount of fat being consumed. For example, if I were trying to clean bulk, I would stay away from candy, soda, potato chips, pizza, hamburgers and all other kinds of fast/junk foods.
People doing clean bulks often consume rice, pasta, lean chicken breast, lean turkey, steak (with all the fat cut out), non fat milk, cottage cheese, fruits and many other healthy foods. This type of bulk is usually preferred by people with slower metabolisms.
2 Regular "Big" Bulking:
Regular bulking is basically when one tries to pack on as much lean muscle mass as possible while moderately watching the amount of fat being consumed. For example, if I were trying to do a regular bulk, I would try to stay away from fast/junk foods.
People doing a regular bulk often consume steak, chicken breast, tuna, skim milk, low fat yogurt, eggs, pizzas (not too greasy), bread, beans, fruits and other foods. This type of bulk is usually preferred by the average person with the average metabolism.
3 Dirty Bulking:
Dirty bulking is basically when ones tries to pack on as much muscle as possible without caring about the fat being consumed. For example, if I were trying to do a dirty bulk, I wouldn't stay away from any edible food.
People doing this type of bulk usually consume a variety of junk food as well as fast food. This type of bulk usually leads to lots of fat gain in the average person. The only people who should consider doing this type of bulk are the people who have a high metabolism. If you have no trouble losing the weight at cutting season, then you should give this bulk a try. It's also the easiest diet to maintain.
Which Type Of Bulking Is Better?
It really depends on your metabolism and goals. If you know you have a slow metabolism, try to do a clean bulk or if not a regular "big" bulk. If you have a fast metabolism, by all means attempt a dirty bulk. Another factor you should consider while choosing a type of bulk are your goals.
What are you looking for? Are you looking to win bodybuilding contests or do you just want to simply win with the girls? If you are looking to win bodybuilding contests, you should obviously stay away from dirty bulks. If you want to win with the girls, simply do a regular "big" bulk or dirty bulk, depending on your metabolism.
There are really no best types of bulking for people in general; it must be determined by your unique metabolism rate and the goals you are trying to achieve.
How Much Food Should I Eat?
Again, this really depends on your body type. If you are an ectomorph, I suggest you eat 6-8 small meals a day. Eat about a 500 calorie meal at 8 AM, then again at 10 AM, 12PM, 2PM, 4PM, 6PM, 8PM, 10PM. Notice that the meals are evenly spaced by two hours because your body can only digest so much food before it all gets disposed out.
An ectomorph should try to eat twenty five to thirty times their body weight in calories and one and a half times their bodyweight in terms of protein. If you are an endomorph, eat 6 meals a day, with a two and half hour interval.
Make sure that you eat quality food such as rice, pasta, steak, white chicken breast, turkey and so on. Avoid fatty foods and junk food or you will get fat in no time. If you are a mesomorph, make sure that you eat 6-8 meals a day, with a two hour interval between meals.
What Are The Best Foods For Bulking?
Good Foods For Clean Bulk:
Good Foods For Regular "Big" Bulk:
Foods For Dirty Bulk:
What Foods Are Bad For Bulking?
You should avoid candy and soda because they are empty calories and have almost zero protein. Also avoid:
Carbohydrates are very important for bodybuilding as well. Carbohydrates basically give you energy for you to workout and go about your day. Any excess carbohydrates will be automatically turned into fat so don't eat more than you can use.
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Sugar is an example of simple carbohydrates and bread is an example of complex carbohydrates. I recommend that you consume complex carbohydrates because it is more beneficial than simple.
Simple carbohydrates can actually leave you feeling depressed after an hour or so. The time to consume simple carbohydrates is right after your workouts. Complex gives you long term energy because it is slowly digested by the body.What Are The Best Supplements For Bulking?
Protein is an absolute essential towards both bulking and cutting. Without sufficient protein consumption, the body will start to break down its own muscle; this process is called the catabolic state.
If you're trying to bulk up, you want to stay as far away from the catabolic state as possible. How do you do that? You would stay out of the catabolic state and in the anabolic state by providing your body with enough protein so it could build muscle. When it comes to protein, there are two main types: Whey protein and casein protein.
Whey protein is probably the most commonly used protein in the bodybuilding world. It is a quick dissolving protein that usually runs through your entire body in about an hour. The ideal time to take this protein is before and after your workouts.
By consuming whey protein before you workout, you would make sure that your body has enough building blocks to build your muscles with. By consuming whey protein after your workouts, you would make sure that your body has enough building blocks to repair the muscles that you were working on in the gym.
Another ideal time to consume your whey protein is right when you wake up. The reason for that is because your body is in the catabolic state when you sleep (because nobody eats in their sleep).100% Whey Protein
When you consume protein at that time, you flood your body with protein so your body doesn't have to break up your hard earned muscles for energy.
I strongly recommend Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Gold Standard. Cheap, effective, tastes great and mixes easily.
Casein Protein is a slow dissolving protein that can stay in your body for more than 5 hours. It is derived from milk products so the protein found in milk is also casein protein. The ideal time to consume casein protein is right before you go to bed.
The reason why you would consume casein instead of whey before you sleep is because casein protein will stay in your body almost for the entire night whereas whey protein will get out of your system in a matter of 1-2 hours.Muscle Milk
One might also consume casein protein before and after a workout as well so they flood their entire body with sufficient slow acting protein all throughout the workout.
I strongly recommend CytoSport MuscleMilk. It tastes great and really works. CytoSport also claims that MuscleMilk contains its patented leanlipid, which actually is considered "good" fat and helps burn regular fat in your body.
Creatine plays a major role in cellular energy and helps regenerate ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) in the human body. Without ATP, muscle contraction is not possible. Creatine claims to increase energy, power output, and enhances muscle size and strength.
Creatine is by no means a steroid. Creatine is not a lab synthesized substance; it is made naturally in the body. There are many different types of creatine products out there:
Which Creatine Product Should I Buy?
This question is very popular among the bodybuilding community. Most people would simply tell you to buy bulk creatine ethyl ester or bulk creatine monohydrate, and they're right. Pure bulk creatine is very effective and very inexpensive. However, if you have the money, I recommend you try Gaspari Nutrition Size-On.
It cost about 50 dollars for a 30 day supply. For more information about which creatine product is right for you, check out the forums on Bodybuilding.com. Creatine is probably the number one topic on the forum.
Multivitamins won't help you gain much muscle mass, but it is very beneficial for your body. After a grueling workout, we lose lots of water and vitamins from our body. Therefore, we need to replace those precious vitamins with a simple multivitamin such as Animal Pack or Centrum performance.
I recommend Centrum for those people on a budget and Animal Pack if you can afford it. 150 tablets of Centrum Performance is about seventeen dollars at Costco.
Simply relying on foods for your daily vitamin intake is not enough because we expend more nutrients than the average person. Without sufficient vitamins, we cannot perform to our best in the weight room, ultimately resulting in no muscle gain.
This is recommended, not essential in your bulk. Nitric Oxide helps dilate the blood vessels in your body to allow more blood to go to your muscles. Therefore, your body will not get very sore the next day because more protein is being sent into your injured muscles to help repair it faster.
Some people also take Nitric Oxide for the "pump" it creates. There's nothing more motivating than seeing your veins bulge up when you're doing curls. Again, this is not essential because your muscles can be repaired just as fast if you were to consume sufficient protein and glutamine. If you do indeed decide to purchase Nitric Oxide, I recommend buying BSN NO-Xplode.
How Long Should One Bulk Before They Begin To Cut?
Well, it really depends on your current body status (amount of lean muscle mass and amount of fat you have currently), your bodybuilding goals and the type of bulking you are doing. The general rule about bulking is that you should bulk up until you are about 20% body fat, then you should cut. However, many people often bulk for about 6 months and then begin a cut to look good in the summer.
If you are doing a dirty bulk with an average metabolism, it is pretty obvious that you are going to have to cut or switch to a clean bulk in a matter of a few months. You don't want to bulk for too long because then you might have stretch marks after your cut. However, you also don't want to bulk too short because you won't build much size in terms of lean muscle mass.
Think about it like an exponential equation. When you start bulking after a cut, you will slowly build size. After say a month or two, you will start to build lean muscle mass twice as fast.
After about 4 to 6 months, you will build lean muscle mass four times faster than you did at the beginning of the bulk. Obviously, it is best to have a good 6-7 months of bulking before you start a cut (granted you have the average metabolism).
For Ectomorphs (High Metabolism):
Ectomorphs should generally try to have a good 8 months of average bulking or a good 7 months of dirty bulking. The reason why they get additional time bulking is because they have tremendous difficulty gaining weight. In addition to that, they also have the ability to lose fat easily when they cut. Some famous ectomorphs include Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Seth Green and Kate Moss.
For Endomorphs (Slow Metabolism):
Endomorphs should generally try to have a good 6 months of clean bulking or a good 5 months of average bulking. The reason why they have so little time bulking is because their body fat will usually hit 20% in a matter of a few months when doing a bulk. In addition to that, cutting is generally really hard for endomorphs because they're metabolism speed is very slow. Some famous endomorphs include Jack Black, John Goodman and Roseanne.
For Mesomorphs (Fast Muscle Gains, Slow Fat Gains):
Mesomorphs should generally try to have a good 8 months of average bulking or a good 7 months of dirty bulking. The reason why they get additional bulking time is because they have a natural ability to gain lean muscle mass faster than ectomorphs and the natural ability to lose fat faster than endomorphs. In the bodybuilding world, this type of genetics is considered to be the "gifted" genetics. Some famous mesomorphs include Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and the majority of the Mr. Universe winners.
How Do You Tell Which Body Type You Have?
- "Hard" Gainer
- Flat Chest
- Small wrists
- Takes a long time to gain muscle mass
- Small shoulders
- Thin neck
- Small calves
- Long limbs
- Drooping shoulders
The ectomorph is naturally weaker than the other body types and must work hard for every ounce of muscle and every bit of strength he/she gains.
- Round physique
- Gain weight fast
- Underdeveloped muscles
- Soft skin
- Weight loss is very difficult
- Gains muscles easily
- Soft body
- Short arms
- Short legs
- Body has a high waist
The endomorphs have trouble losing weight but have the natural ability to gain muscle mass just as quick as mesomorphs.
- Very athletic
- Hard Body
- Thick Skin
- Easily gain muscle mass
- Fat loss is very easy
- Muscular Body
- Broad Shoulders
- Rectangular Shaped (Males)
- Hourglass Shaped (Females)
- Exceptional Posture
- Large Bones
- Jaw is squared and appears to be "heavy"
The mesomorphs are the majority of the Mr. Universe winners. They have the natural ability to gain muscle mass quickly and lose fat easily.
Mixed Body Types?
Usually, many people have mixed body types. For instance, if you are naturally skinny but gain muscle mass easily, then you are considered ecto-mesomorph. If you are naturally fat but have the ability to lose fat quickly, you are considered an endo-mesomorph. Understanding which body type you have is very important because you know which type of bulking you should do.
Body Type Articles:
For How Long?
Do You Think It's Better To Bulk For Longer Periods Of Time (6 Months), And Then Cut, Or Bulk For Shorter Periods Of Time (6 weeks), And Then Cut? Why?
I would suggest for people to bulk for longer periods of time (6 months) because like I said before, your body starts to grow exponentially. "Think about it like an exponential equation. When you start bulking after a cut, you will slowly build size. After say a month or two, you will start to build lean muscle mass twice as fast.
After about 4 to 6 months, you will build lean muscle mass four times faster than you did at the beginning of the bulk. Obviously, it is best to have a good 6-7 months of bulking before you start a cut (granted you have the average metabolism)." However, if you are a mesomorph, you might be able to try shorter bulks and then do a quick cut and still make some gains.
The reason why they get to do that is because their body gains muscle quickly on the bulk and then cuts the fat easily on the cut. However, they would still benefit more if they were to do a longer bulk.
Are You Going To Be Bulking During The Fall/Winter? If So, Will You Be Doing Anything Different This Time Around, Or Will You Bulk Like Always?
I am going to continue bulking until April 2007 because I am still too small. I have never done a cut so far because my body fat never reached 20%. When I started bodybuilding, I was only 110lbs at 5'7 8% body fat. After about 1 1/2 years of bodybuilding, I am now 143lbs 5'7 at 10% body fat.
I did not cut during the summer like the others did because I knew that I haven't packed on enough muscle yet. The reason why my body fat stayed so low is because I am an ectomorph and I did a normal "big" bulk instead of a dirty bulk. I tried to stay relative lean throughout my bulk, even though I did a "big" bulk.
I will bulk like I always have:
- I eat 8 meals a day (evenly spaced apart)
- I eat about 4000 calories daily
- I consume 1.5-2 grams of protein per bodyweight
- I drink about 1-2 gallons of water a day to keep hydrated
- I take BSN NO-Xplode and Gaspari Nutrition Size-On
- I drink Cytosport Muscle Milk before I sleep
- I take Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey before and after my workouts
- I take 2 Centrum Performance daily
- Monday: Chest / Triceps
- Tuesday: Back / Bicep
- Wednesday: Shoulder / Traps
- Thursday: Thigh / Calves / Abs
- Friday: Chest / Triceps
- Saturday: Back / Bicep
- Sunday: Shoulder / Traps
I have seen great results from doing things my way. I have to thank Bodybuilding.com for all the things that I learned from both the forums and the articles. I hope you had fun reading my article and have learned a thing or two about bulking. Thank you!
2nd Place - colinphenom
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
As we all know the bulking season has just begun. It is now time for us to forget about our washboard abs and start packing on some serious muscle. In order to get the most out of the bulking season and training, a proper bulking diet must be implemented. With the help of a few supplements here and there and proper diet of course, our goals become more and more realistic.
What Is The Best Bulking Diet? What Are Some Of The Best Foods For Bulking?
The best bulking diet is rich in protein, amino acids, complex and simple carbohydrates as well as a sufficient amount of healthy fats. The best protein to carbohydrate to fat ratio to follow 40/40/20. This way you get enough protein and amino acids to build your muscles, enough carbs to fuel them, and enough fat to stimulate hormones from the pituitary gland which are a key for growth.
There are a number of foods that can be consumed for maximal benefits and hormone production when bulking as well as cutting.
Eating yogurt can substantially assist your body in optimizing nutrient absorption in the intestines by maintaining balance in the gastrointestinal tract. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium, which helps to keep your bones strong as you are lifting heavy weights.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants to help the immune system. Not only will garlic help you to defend against colds and viruses (which can be a large detriment to your gains and training regimen) but helps the body produce testosterone. Garlic can also help the body decreases levels of cortisol in the body which is a catabolic hormone that will break down muscle tissue into glucose for energy.
Watermelon is a great source of citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid which is converted by the body into another amino acid, arginine. Arginine helps to stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which in turn results in an increase in nutrient and oxygen delivery for your muscles. This increase in blood flow and nutrients ultimately results in bigger muscles as more amino acids can be absorbed by fibrous muscle cells.
Broccoli not only contains plenty of vitamins and nutrients, but also contains chemicals called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolyl methane. These chemicals when consumed, provide somewhat the same effect of an anti-aromatase supplement. These chemicals make estrogens in the body weaker, which results in an increased effectiveness of testosterone in the body, but less water retention and fat storage as well.
Spinach is rich in glutamine, which is great for helping to recover from a workout. Aside from glutamine in spinach, it also contains a chemical called octacosanol which has been shown to increase strength, which in turn will result in an increase in muscle gain during your bulking season.
It is also very important to eat more calories than your body requires. In order for you to gain mass, there must be an excess of calories so that you have enough calories and nutrients to build your muscles and also to perform all other daily functions and activities or maintenance.
A good rule of thumb is to start your bulking diet off at 20 times your body weight in calories. If you do not gain any mass, and assuming you are training and eating nutrient rich foods, increase your daily calorie intake by 100 calories for the first week, and you continue to not gain any mass, keep increasing your daily calories by 100 calories until you being to gain body mass.
Other foods that are great sources of macronutrients that will maximize your gains during the bulking seasons are:
As we all know amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Without a sufficient intake of protein, our bodies will not have enough amino acids to build muscles resulting in no gain of muscle mass. It is also important to eat between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per pound (see calculator above) of lean body mass to ensure a positive nitrogen balance in the body.
Protein should also be consumed every 2-3 hours at every meal. Consuming protein every 2-3 hours will ensure that your body gets a constant stream of incoming amino acids to build your muscles. Another good thing to do is to set your alarm at night to wake you up approximately half-way in between your sleep to drink some milk.
By drinking milk in the middle of your sleep you will supply your body with amino acids, which become deficient during the night as you do not eat for usually 6-8 hours. Some nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods to eat while bulking are:
Carbohydrates are necessary for all aspects of your training to take place. Carbohydrates are used for getting to the gym, lifting weights, cardio, and fueling your muscles pre and post workout as well as aid in recovery. There is a place for complex carbohydrates, which should be consumed most of the time during your bulking season.
Where simple carbohydrates come into play is post workout. By consuming simple carbohydrates after your workout will be great for growth. The effects of insulin are:
- An increased rate of protein synthesis.
- Decreased muscle breakdown by reducing gluconeogenesis or the use of proteins and fats for energy.
- Reduced protein degradation.
The best sources of carbohydrates are:
- Complex Carbohydrates:
- Simple Carbohydrates (for post workout):
- Any food containing maltose or glucose, as maltose is broken down into 2 molecules of glucose, as apposed to 1 molecule of glucose and 1 of galactose or sucrose.
- Ice cream is a good source of maltose
- Corn syrup is also a good source of maltose
Fats are another important factor in a bulking diet. Fats have all sorts of roles in the body but most importantly for a bulking diet, is that they stimulate hormones. It is best to consume unsaturated fats (oils) as apposed to saturated fats (solids at room temperature or animal fats) as unsaturated fats are much more easily broken down in the gastrointestinal tract than saturated fats. Good sources of unsaturated fats are:
It is also important to consume 3 to 4 liters of water a day to ensure proper function of the kidneys when consuming large amounts of protein (urea is a by-product of protein breakdown). All meals should be consumed every 2-3 hours ensuring that your muscles are constantly being replenished with nutrients.
Eating every 2-3 hours will also keep your fat gains to a minimum as your body's metabolism will increase. Another important factor to maximize nutrient intake is to eat as much whole, non-processed, uncooked foods as possible.
Now of course I don't mean eat raw meat because there are a number of diseases you can get from chicken, fish, beef, or pork, however it is best to never cook vegetables.
Foods naturally have a number of different enzymes called food enzymes that are already in the food to aid in breaking down the food for nutrients. By cooking your food, you denature these enzymes leaving almost useless amounts of food in your gastrointestinal tract.
When food enzymes are denatured by being cooked or over-processed and then digested, your body requires more and more of it's own enzymes to digest the food. This in turn results in less production and utilization of enzymes in other areas of the body where enzymes are much needed.
What Are The Best Supplements For Bulking?
There seems to currently be an almost endless amount of supplements being introduced into the bodybuilding world today. The supplements that will give you the best gains are:
1 Digestive Enzymes:
By taking a high potency digestive supplement that can be used in a wide range of pH's, you can ensure that your body has enough enzymes to break down food. By further breaking down food you can get much more nutrients out of all of that food that you must pack into your stomach day after day.
2 Colloidal Mineral/Multi-Mineral:
A great way to ensure that your body is getting enough vitamins and minerals while you are bulking is by taking a multi-mineral supplement. Another great supplement is colloidal minerals.
This supplement is in liquid form for the best bioavailability, and normally contain over 72 trace-minerals that your body needs to survive. Most people are deficient in many of these trace minerals as they are not available in foods today as they become more and more processed as well as the deficiency of the soil that our food is being grown in.
3 Protein Powder:
Protein powder is a great supplement because it is easily digested as it is in liquid form, and it is also an easy source of protein.
Amino acid supplements are an excellent way to increase protein synthesis and recovery. As protein is synthesized from amino acids, these supplements can aid significantly in muscle recovery after a long, hard workout.
5 NO2 Stimulators:
Supplements that increase the release of nitric oxide into the blood such as arginine-AKG, Orthinine-AKG and Citrulline are great supplements because by increasing release of nitric oxide, blood flow and nutrient delivery is increased to cells. This results in an increased absorption of amino acids into muscle cells which will increase protein synthesis.
As seen and experienced by many, creatine can greatly increase muscle growth. By increasing water retention in muscles and regenerating ATP, a hypertrophic environment is created for muscle cells. As creatine increases the regeneration of ATP, you can pump out more reps and more sets, which will result in an increase in muscle strength, and size.
7 Natural Testosterone Boosters:
Testosterone in the body is the most important hormone that interacts with muscles. An increase in testosterone results in muscle hypertrophy which is great for bulking. Great natural testosterone boosters are substances such as tribulus terrestris, ecdysterone, ZMA (zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6).
For How Long?
How long should one bulk before they begin to cut?
It is best for someone to bulk for a period of approximately 6-8 months. After bulking for this amount of time, you should have gained a fair amount of mass, assuming you trained properly and ate according to the diet above or other healthy bulking diets.
By bulking for 6-8 months your body has probably began to adapt to your diet or your training. Not only will changing to a cutting diet get rid of excess fat that you put on during the bulking season, but you should continue to grow, as far as lean mass goes as a result of the change in training and diet.
It is also important to change from a bulking to a cutting diet after 6-8 months because after bulking, seeing how far you have come in this past bulking season is essential. You will now be able to see what works, and what doesn't work for your body. You will also be able to fix any problems you have concerning your physique such as a smaller tricep or bicep on one arm as you could not tell underneath the fat that you have put on during the bulking season.
For How Long?
Do You Think It's Better To Bulk For Longer Periods Of Time (6 months), And Then Cut, Or Bulk For Shorter Periods Of Time (6 weeks), And Then Cut? Why?
I think it is better to bulk for longer periods of time such as 6 months as long as you are continuing to gain body mass. If your body continues to respond to a bulking diet, than why not continue what you are doing? However if your body is quick to adapt to changes in your diet, then I think it is better to change from bulking to cutting after just 6-8 weeks of bulking because it just becomes pointless to consume excess calories if your body is not responding to it.
At this point in time I would change to a cutting diet so that my body would not adapt to my diet and training, which will continually result in lean muscle hypertrophy.
Are You Going To Be Bulking During The Fall/Winter? If So, Will You Be Doing Anything Different This Time Around, Or Will You Bulk Like Always?
This winter I will be bulking for the first 2 or 3 months and then cutting for a competition in April. I think this winter I will be bulking as I normally do. I will bulk on a high calorie, nutrient-dense diet and try to incorporate some supplements along the way, assuming my bank account is able to handle the bills.
3rd Place - BloodnGuts
View This Author's BodySpace Here.
Bulking literally means mass gaining for a bodybuilder, that is, to gain as much muscle mass as possible while trying to keep fat level to a minimum. Some find bulking difficult, as they tend to gain more fat than muscle, for others bulking tends to be frustrating as their weight increase by only 2 pounds maybe for 6 months of bulking.
Needless to say, those people aren't following the basic guidelines for proper muscle mass gaining.
What Is The Best Bulking Diet?
A healthy and clean diet will help build muscle with minimal fat gain. I have always respected my diet religiously and my percentage body fat was never in the red zone.
While bulking, you seek to increase your intake of calories. A simple calculation of how much calories you require is to multiply your bodyweight (in pounds) by 15-20. This amount of calories should then be spread over at least 6 meals to keep your body in an anabolic state. A macronutrient breakdown of your calories will consist of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
The most common ratio is 40/40/20 (protein/carbs/fat) but I would suggest a starting ratio of 35/45/20. Of course, depending on your body type, you'll have to adjust these values. Some people will be more sensitive to fat, so they should try to lower that carb/fat ratio a bit, and compensate on the protein ratio.
Keep track of every daily meal you take, their content and approximate calorie value and macronutrient (protein/carb/fat) content in a log. The log will help you track the meals that have been beneficial and the meals that have added more fat than muscle mass.
There is a food database here at bodybuilding.com that should help you with that.
You also have to keep track of your weight and body fat in your log and update it as regularly as possible. Adjust the amount of calories you intake based on the results you see in both your log and the mirror. If your body fat gets too high, diminish your amount of calories. If after each two weeks, you don't see any gains, increase calories intake by 500.
What Are Some Of The Best Foods For Bulking?
What you are looking for in your meals are protein, carbs and fat.
Protein is a macromolecule used to synthesize muscle, that is, it used by your body to build and repair muscle tissue. A bodybuilder in his bulking phase requires about 1.5g â€" 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight (see calculator above). Be sure not to take in too much protein though, as the excess might turn into fat.
What you should be looking for is food rich in protein but with the least amount of fat:
You have to cook the food healthily, try not to fry them. Avoid whole milk, don't abuse the pork and beef meat either. They contain saturated fat which is not the fat you want in your body. I would recommend fish instead of meat.
Carbs are the source of energy for your body. Since you will be training hard to gain muscle mass, you'll need lots of energy and that's where quality carbs come in play. Carbohydrates help increase the amount of glycogen stored in muscle cells.
A high amount of glycogen in muscle tissue has been shown to increase protein synthesis and anabolism. Carbs fall into two groups, labeled as simple (monosaccharide and disaccharides) and complex (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).
Simple carbs are digested faster than complex carbs. Their simple molecular structure makes it easy to break down and they are quickly utilized by the body. I would recommend taking simple carbs with pre and post workout meals. You should take them before your workout to get the energy required for your intense training. After your workout, an intake of simple carbs will increase protein synthesis and recovery.
Complex carbs is released gradually and takes a longer time to be digested. Hence it is better to increase intake of complex carbs for your first meal.
Simple Carbohydrates Sources:
Complex Carbohydrates Sources:
There are some bad carbohydrate sources that you should not take. These include:
- fast foods
- fizzy/soda drinks
- processed fruit juices
The terms oil, fats and lipids are all used to refer to fats. Oil is a form of fat that remains liquid at room temperature whereas fat stays solid at room temperature. Lipids consist of both oils and fats.
Bodybuilders require unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats consists of two groups; polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These help your body to increase production of testosterone, which is what you need. The recommended amount of fat to intake is 20% of your total calories. Take in more, and you will start to gain fat, take in less and your hormonal production might be lowered.
Fats are broken down by the body into glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol is converted into glucose by the liver and used as energy whereas fatty acids are important to maintenance of health. Fats also help the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
Sources of unsaturated fat include:
Avoid foods that contain saturated fat such as deep fried food, vegetable oil, coconut oil and the white fat around red meat.
What Are The Best Supplements For Bulking?
You'll have to complement your bulking diet with supplements. These supplements will provide quality, easily absorbable nutrients which are not readily present in food. Supplements that should be taken during bulking are:
1 Protein Powders:
Whey protein is a by-product of cow milk. It has the highest biological value of any protein and provides most essential amino acids than other proteins. Whey is essential to bodybuilders as it accelerates muscle development and aid in recovery.
Whey protein has a fast absorption rate and hence it is recommended to take a whey protein shake after your workout. It increases protein synthesis and is an essential part of any bulking meal.
The top 5 whey protein supplements sold by Bodybuilding.com are:
Casein (Micellar) is a slow digesting protein, so it provides a constant supply of protein to your muscles for a much longer period of time (up to 7 hours) than whey. Micellar casein is the natural, undenatured form of casein found in milk.
A casein shake just before going to bed is essential to slow muscle catabolism during the 8-10 hours that you are sleeping. Upon waking up, I would suggest taking a shake of casein plus whey. The whey will help you to quickly recover from the muscle catabolism that occurred at night and provide a flow of protein for your morning activities.
The top 5 casein protein supplements sold by Bodybuilding.com are:
Creatine is a nitrogenous acid that is naturally produced by the body. However bodybuilders require more than the amount produced by the body and the amount obtained from food (meat and fish). Creatine is essential for bulking. In short it helps increase lean muscle mass, boosts your energy levels and improves recovery rate.
The top 5 creatine supplements sold by Bodybuilding.com are:
3 Multi-Vitamins & BCAA:
Vitamins are essential for growth and development. The body requires a daily intake of various essential vitamins to function properly. Relying on food solely as a source of vitamins will result in vitamin deficiency which will reduce performance and you cannot afford to fall ill if you want to put on as much muscle mass as possible.
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids. Essential amino acids are not produced by the body so you will have to obtain these from supplements. BCAA will help maintain your nitrogen balance and prevent muscle breakdown.
Multi-Vitamins and BCAA should be taken in the morning and immediately after your workout.
Universal Animal Pak contains a good combination of Multi-Vitamins and BCAA. If you find that your Multi-Vitamin supplement lacks the required BCAA, then take a separate BCAA supplement.
The top 5 Multi-Vitamins sold by Bodybuilding.com are:
The most popular BCAA supplements on Bodybuilding.com are:
L-Glutamine is an amino acid usually found in foods high in protein. It replenishes the body's stores of amino acids that have been used during your workout so it aids in recovery. Glutamine is essential for the immune system and also has a cell volumizing effect.
The top 5 supplements containing L-Glutamine sold by Bodybuilding.com are:
For How Long?
How Long Should One Bulk Before They Begin To Cut?
How long you should bulk depends on your body type and the feedback you get from your body. Keeping a progress log will greatly help in determining the length of your bulking cycle.
Before you start a bulking phase, set yourself a reasonable weight goal, the percentage body fat that would be acceptable to you and set the time you would like to bulk. Depending on your goals, your bulking phase could be between 6 to 8 months.
Put your initial weight and percentage body fat in your log, the initial amount of calorie intake that you calculated, as well as the ratio of protein/carb/fat that you think will be best for you.
Weigh yourself and measure your body fat level at least once every two weeks, once a week would be better if it is possible. When you see that you have achieved your goal, stop your bulking program and start cutting. Continuing the bulking cycle further might help you gain some muscle mass, or it might also increase your fat level too much.
If you haven't achieved your goal but are close enough, you can extend the bulking phase for a few weeks. Be sure that you will have enough time to cut though.
For How Long?
Do You Think It's Better To Bulk For Longer Periods Of Time (6 Months), And Then Cut, Or Bulk For Shorter Periods Of Time (6 Weeks), And Then Cut? Why?
Since your goal in bulking will be to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, this will require a long amount of time, about 6 to 8 months. The cutting cycle should be kept short, from 4 to 8 weeks depending on your body type, percentage body fat and goal.
Cutting for longer periods of time might lead to too much muscle loss. You do not want to lose all that hard work and all those sacrifices made during your bulking phase right?
You should shorten your bulking cycle if you know you are a fast fat gainer. A bulking phase of 3 to 4 months should be enough for that. Cycle between your bulking and your cutting phase so as to keep fat level low and not lose muscle mass.
Are You Going to Be Bulking During The Fall/Winter? If So, Will You Be Doing Anything Different This Time Around, Or Will You Bulk Like Always?
I usually start a bulking cycle at the start of winter. I plan to start bulking with an additional 500 calories from the calorie amount of my previous bulking phase. I will also up my protein ratio, and start with a 45/35/20 ratio. I will add additional supplements to those mentioned above, such as a Nitric Oxide based supplement.
Due to lack of time in previous years, I couldn't find the time for a post-workout nap. I plan to take a one hour nap after workout this year to help my body recover faster.
To conclude I would say that if you put your mind into it, find enough motivation then you will be able to follow a strict bulking diet, intense workout and get enough sleep. Those are essential to gain quality muscle. At the end of the bulking phase, if you have followed all the guidelines you will see that all the sacrifices you have made have paid off!