Here’s a list of everything you need to do in order to bulk up. Read it and ask yourself ‘am I doing that?’
#1 – Eat at a calorie surplus
In other words, eat more than you’re burning off. It’s common for people who are trying to bulk to not actually eat in a calorie surplus and then wonder why they’re not gaining weight.
Without overcomplicating: If you consume more than you burn off, you’ll gain weight. If you burn off more than you consume, you’ll lose weight. It really is that simple.
#2 – Track your progress
Download an app if you need the support in doing so but ultimately, track your progress. Start by getting weighed regularly: Do it every week at the same time, on the same scales and in the same clothes. If you’re wanting to gain weight, you should be aiming for 1-2lbs per week.
Also, grab a tape measure and measure your body to see how it’s growing and keep track of progress in a notepad.
#3 – Eat enough protein
Ideally, you’ll need to be eating 1g of protein per 0.5kg of body weight. Don’t stop if you are gaining weight.
That includes if you feel you’re getting a slight increase in body fat.
Start doing some light cardio if you need to.
#4 – Eat every 2-3 hours
A meal, not dust…
This is key when you’re trying to bulk: You can’t keep on 3 meals a day. If you do, chances are you’ll be leaving the dining table feeling physically sick – that is, of course, if you are actually eating in a calorie surplus as you should be (See point 1)
#6 – Don’t go cardio crazy
In fact, cardio isn’t needed at all unless you have specific goals that centre around cardio-based exercises, for example, if you play football.
Remember, the target is to gain weight and if you’re constantly doing a crazy amount of cardio, you’ll be doing more than just regulating your body fat.
#7 – Train 3-4 muscle sessions a week
And give it 100% whilst you’re there.
4 sessions per week are ideal for muscle growth. Firstly, it allows you to break down the sessions simpler (e.g. Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders) and secondly, it gives your body the right amount of time to rest and recover before going again!
#8 – Do your compounds every week
Of course, that’s along with the rest of your workout. Make sure, you’re squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting every week. They’re three of the most important exercises you can do in the gym
#9 – Don’t listen to the people who say you’re getting fat
Firstly, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! (It is completely natural if you’re trying to gain mass for your body to increase fat levels. Nothing the odd HIIT session can’t fix.)
It’s very easy to be easily influenced by people around you, that’s why it’s important that you goal set and track progress.
#10 – But check if you are…
Take regular photos of yourself to monitor your gains. If you do put body fat, it can be hard to lose, especially if you’re adding a lot. Your body insulin levels will rise and it can make losing a serious challenge. Again, don’t go cardio crazy but at the same time, don’t allow yourself to get fat.
#11 – Drink a load of water
“A load” means your recommended daily amount. According to the British National Health Service (NHS), that should be 6-8 glasses a day!
Water helps not only with your digestion but can also suppress your appetite – which is both key to any healthy lifestyle.
#12 – Mix it up in the kitchen
This is especially if you’ve just come out of a leaning out period. One of the best thing about bulking is the opportunity to eat enjoyable foods, like burritos. You don’t have to keep living your life of chicken, rice, and spinach – unless you’ve got that used to it, you don’t want to change. That’s up to you!
#13 – “Patience, Daniel San!”
Did Mr. Miyagii teach you nothing?
#14 – Eat carbs
Now is the time to stop fearing them. Ditch the ‘low carb days’ for a short while, especially whilst you’re bulking. If you are used to low carbs, increase them slightly so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
#15 – Consume loads of fruit and veg
This doesn’t need to be specific to bulking but you still need a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of your goals. Fruit and veg are your sources for micronutrients and vitamins – make sure they’re in your diet! It’s another way of saying “don’t try to bulk by just eating junk food”.
#16 – Make sure you cheat
This is good if you’re a hard gainer, allows you to get the extra calories in. Remember to train hard though.
Remember, a bulk is not an excuse to live on takeaways and pizza, that will make you fat.
#17 – Ask a friend
The people around you will start to notice a difference in you, keep asking people for advice, your friends, colleagues, family – whoever you feel comfortable talking to. Don’t ask all the time though! The last thing people want to keep seeing is a daily flex of your biceps – even if they look awesome!
#18 – Use the opportunity to make yourself stronger
You’re loading in on the calories, trying to pile on the weight and training insane. You will probably have so much energy that you need to burn off but don’t feel the need to superset or blow yourself out on a treadmill.
Add an extra plate or two to your bench press or squat, curl a bigger dumbbell and start doing weighted pull ups.
Strength and look do go side-by-side (well, sort of)
#19 – If you are gaining weight, don’t make changes
See point 13. Let’s not keep quoting The Karate Kid!
Ask yourself, if your target was to gain 1-2lbs a week, don’t suddenly stop training just because you’re doing what you set out to. It can be quite daunting trying to change your body and you’ll start feeling ways you’ve never felt – it’s quite normal so don’t be afraid. Keep to your plan, keep tracking your progress, keep the faith!
#20 – Stop being lazy
Laziness will make you fat! Especially if you’re eating like you’re training for a competition.
You do need to have an all-encompassing lifestyle: a healthy diet, a great workout and the necessary rest and recovery times.
#21 – Stop searching for ‘strange’ diets
A strange fad diet wasn’t going to help you when you cut, so why would it help you when you bulk?
#22 – Supp up.
That’s only if you want to…
Check out our guide to supplementation. If you’re bulking, have a good protein shake, BCAA’s during your workout and experiment with Creatine before and after working out – that is only if you want to.
#23 – Go to Sleep
Ditch those ‘cardio days’ in the gym – you probably don’t need them at the minute. Muscle growth happens when you rest (hence the phrase ‘recovery time’) so you need to make sure you’re hitting the pillow for 7-9 hours a night.
There’s a difference between the person who ‘joins a gym’ and the person who changes their lifestyle, you are the latter!