Bulking Up: The Essential Guide To Muscle Gain
Increasing muscle mass is a great way to lose fat, gain strength and protect against exercise related injuries. Some people do it to gain more confidence, to feel good about their bodies. Others bulk up for health reasons. Muscles are nature’s engines, they allow you to run faster, jump higher and legitimately ask for tickets to “the gun show”. They are also effective padding for your body and vital organs; if you bulk up, you’re less likely to break or puncture something when you fall down. This is the definitive guide for how to bulk up the correct way.
Don’t make the simple mistakes that too many people make on the road to greater fitness; use this guide to increase your gains.
Firstly, if you are looking to take things to the next level you need to commit your mind to achieving a goal. Put a photo up on the wall and vision what you want to look like in 3 months time.
Bodybuilding is a process that requires commitment and sacrifice, but the feeling is of bulging arms and six pack abs is priceless.
So many struggle to make any serious changes to their body as they do not following the simple basics for muscle development.
Combined with our Pro Mass Bulking stack, the following steps will take your physique to the next level:
In order to bulk up, you need to take in the necessary energy to gain muscle. That means increasing your calorie intake, which is traditionally done through eating more food. But it’s easy to overshoot what’s required and take in more calories than you need to bulk up. These extra calories will get stored as fat in your body, and you’ll bulk up in the wrong way. While it can help muscle mass to consume extra calories, you don’t need that many. As little as 200 extra calories to your daily intake of 2500 (2000 for women) is required. That’s the equivalent of a can of black beans, a 6 inch bread roll or an avocado. You should concentrate on foods that are low in fat and high in protein. Grains, lean meats like fish and poultry, lentils and nuts are great low calorie sources of protein. Carbohydrates are also important, so don’t avoid them when trying to bulk up. Those carbs, especially in the form of whole grains, give your body the energy it needs to convert protein into muscle.
This guide to portion sizes from the power house Brandon Carter is a great starting point on nutrition:
Lifting weights is an intrinsic part of bulking up. Lifting causes your muscle tissue to be broken down, or atrophied. But don’t worry! Your body then uses amino acids to synthesize new muscle tissue, and your body will make more of it to prepare for the same kind of punishment in the future. So your body grows bigger muscles, making you stronger and fitter.
Heavy compound weight lifting is the gold standard for building muscles. These are weight lifting exercises that hit all the major muscle groups and push them to the limit. Obviously, these heavy duty compound exercises produce faster results than isolated, incremental exercises that focus on just some specific muscles. These compound exercises include horizontal push and pulls to help develop your back by bench pressing and back rowing. Then there’s the vertical push and pull to develop your shoulders and trapezoids. Hip dominant weight training covers deadlifts, lunges and step ups to exercise your glutes, hamstrings and quad muscles. There are also quad specific exercises that mainly concern squats. Squatting is great for building muscles everywhere, because they add to your total weight. Muscle building is a process that includes your whole body, not just specific muscles, so exercises like squatting that use your whole body are the kinds of exercises you need to focus on to gain muscle mass.
Check out this other video from Brandon Carter explaining the importance of compound moves in bodybuilding:
The most common setback to bulking up is doing it wrong and becoming fat, or reaching a bulking plateau. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
Eating Too Much
If you eat too much at the start, then you’ll get fat. You need to start small and incrementally increase your caloric intake as you train harder and for longer.
Not Eating Enough
Many people will be tempted to eat less, or even skip meals. Either because this gives them more time to train, or because exercising suppresses their appetite. But food is more important than exercise when trying to bulk up. Not eating enough means you’ll become exhausted and discouraged by your lack of gains. You might even slim down as a result. Remember that you’ll need protein, carbs and healthy fats. You need the protein to get the amino acids your body needs to convert into muscle. You need carbs to give your body the slow release energy to do that converting, even when you’re not training. You also need fat to get the quick release energy to train. These three food groups work together to build your new, hardier body. Also, don’t skimp on the vegetables. Nutrients and vitamins are important, as your body will use them up more quickly while you train.
You need to be taking your meal prep to the next level:
Not Doing Cardio
Only focusing on weights and not doing any cardio will make your body less able to lift. Improving your cardiovascular system with cardio will allow you to lift more and will also increase your appetite, making it easier to bulk up.
It’s important to incorporate rest and recovery time into your training programme. Lack of sleep is linked to overeating and gorging on the wrong kinds of food. Also, because lifting breaks down muscle tissue, you need rest to help your body recover and rebuild. Make sure you sleep 7 to 9 hours a night. While you’re sleeping, resting and doing things other than training is when your body will grow the most muscle. You might want to consider adding one “rest day” to your week. This will allow you to both physically and mentally recover from training. Bulking up is as much about your state of mind as your physical training, so having a day when you don’t have to think about bulking will be helpful.
Pushing Past the Plateau
Remember that bulking is an uphill struggle. It will become exponentially harder to gain muscle mass as your body adapts to the extra exercise you throw at it. This is why you need to remain confident and continuously escalate your weights and exercises to keep your body adapting. As you see how much you gain over the weeks and months, you can use this increased confidence to strengthen your resolve to make your body what you want it to be.