Bodybuilding is very much a bittersweet sport, as generally speaking, whilst cutting and dieting down, many bodybuilders will feel pretty darn miserable, as they are having to be so careful with their diets. The bittersweetness comes into play for the fact that, whilst dieting down makes them feel so miserable, looking so lean and shredded can make them feel fantastic. With that being said however, if you were to ask a series of bodybuilders whether they preferred bulking or cutting, nine times out of ten, they would tell you that they did, in fact, prefer bulking, for obvious reasons. The main reason being: that they get to be slightly more flexible with their diets. If you’re thinking of bulking up and adding some size to your frame, but you still want to remain relatively lean, take a look at the following, as we look at several tips designed to help you successfully bulk up leanly, without gaining too much excess body fat.
Some bodybuilders out there simply sack cardio off altogether whilst they are bulking, but this is not recommended, especially if you’re looking to bulk up leanly. Cardio is very healthy and beneficial as it helps to strengthen the heart and the cardiovascular system, so that is one reason to consider doing cardio already. The second reason however, is that cardio will help you to keep your body fat levels under control. Contrary to popular belief, especially amongst “bro-science” preachers, cardio does not destroy muscle gains at all, in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Providing you keep your cardio workouts at a moderate intensity, and don’t push yourself too hard, your body will not eat away at muscle tissue, as it will comfortably fuel itself from calories stored in your body fat. Perform 2 – 4 moderate intensity cardio workouts per week, and your muscles will increase, whilst your waist will decrease.
In order to achieve optimal muscle hypertrophy, you need to really push the muscles to their limits and that does mean training heavy to avoid complacency with your training. By training heavy, we don’t mean that you should max out for 1 – 2 reps on every lift, as ideally, when it comes to heavy training, you should keep your reps between 5 – 8 per working set. Choose a weight that feels relatively east at first, but that does begin to test you when you hit 4 – 5 reps. Train to failure, make sure you have a spotter close by, and after a few sessions, you should certainly notice an increase in your overall muscle mass and power. What’s more, the heavier you train, the stronger you will become.
Weight gain supplements
One of the biggest problems that bodybuilders have when it comes to bulking up, is actually consuming enough quality calories each day to hit their daily macros. In order to grow, you need to be in a caloric surplus, and to help you get there, consider using a weight gain supplement. Weight gain supplements are mainly made up of protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. They are much higher in calories than a regular protein supplement, making them ideal for bodybuilders looking to bulk up. One weight gain supplement will contain anything from 500 – more than 1000 calories per serving, making them useful for people who simply cannot face consuming vast quantities of food. They come in a series of delicious flavours, and to increase the calorie content even further, why not mix them with milk instead of water?
Try to vary your training
The body has a knack for quickly adapting to stressful situations and stimuli, so if you have been following the same workout routine for a number of weeks/months, you should ideally consider switching things up and trying something new. This will keep the body guessing as it won’t know whether it is coming or going, which in turn, will result in more impressive levels of growth. If you’ve been following a 5 day split for several weeks, try a push/pull routine, or a full-body routine perhaps? As long as you switch up your training methods every few weeks, you should notice very impressive levels of muscle growth.
Make sure your diet is on point
Muscle isn’t built in the gym, it’s actually built in the kitchen, as muscle growth primarily depends on the foods in which you nourish your body with on a daily basis. When bulking, as you are still trying to remain lean, you should still watch your diet and consume fresh, healthy, and nutritionally balanced foods and drinks. Obviously you need plenty of protein, so opt for lean and natural sources such as fish, seafood, white meat, red meat, and protein supplements. Carbohydrates should largely be complex so: potatoes, rice, wholegrain bread, and pasta etc. Also, don’t forget your healthy fats, as these are incredibly beneficial for the human body, and they will also help you to reach your daily calorie requirements much easier. Micronutrients in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables are also vital, so make sure your meals are healthy and balanced.
Nail that post-workout nutrition
When bulking, you should really be pushing yourself in the gym, as your main objective is to shock the muscles into new growth. Because of this, your workouts will be strenuous and intense, so your post-workout nutrition will be absolutely essential. If possible, opt for a whey protein isolate, combine it with a simple sugar such as dextrose, and don’t forget your amino acids, especially leucine, which plays a vital role in protein synthesis. In order to benefit the most, consume a shake as soon after finishing a workout as possible, as you do not want to miss the anabolic window, which is where your muscles absorb more nutrients than usual. This typically lasts between 30 and 45 minutes on average, so never forget your post-workout shake, as that is what is going to fuel your muscles and allow the body to begin repairing them.