What is Bulking? – A Definition, Diet Plan & Workout
Bulking Definition – What Is It?
Table Of Contents
Throughout the day the body consumes calories from your food, as it is the fats that the body stores that is turned into energy. The amount of calories you need to consume does depend on a number of factors such as your job, age and how you train. By just consuming the required amount, you will maintain your current weight. If however, you are wanting to bulk up, you will end up needing to consume more calories, this giving your muscles what they need to grow.
The bulking period is often known as their “off-season”, this is usually those that do compete in bodybuilding competitions. They call it the “off-season” as they don’t need to worry too much about getting their body fat percentage right down. Many people will go through a bulking phrase during the winter months, allowing them to build up size ready to burn fat for the summer months.
It was very common in the past for people to use bulking steroids to try and help increase muscle mass. These did naturally have a number of side effects, which is why they are all now illegal. There are however some alternatives or otherwise known as legal steroids that can be used to help speed up results.
What Are The Benefits Of Bulking?
It is possible to see benefits from bulking regardless of if you are skinny, muscular or even above your ideal weight. By learning the different benefits, you will be able to see why it would be a good idea for you to consider doing a bulking cycle.
The benefits include;
- The ability to add muscle mass. You cannot add mass if you are eating fewer calories than your body needs. Since bulking increases your calorie intake, it’s going to help build mass.
- If we consume fewer calories than our body needs over a long period of time, we can actually end up losing muscle. This is because when the body runs out of stored fats to convert into energy, it then moves onto muscle. Adding a bulking cycle will help to prevent this.
- It can be tough and mentally tiring if you are on a low-calorie diet, you might also be losing motivation. By going through a bulking cycle, you can recover from this and help get you ready for your next cutting (fat burning) cycle.
- It is so easy for us to plateau and for our bodies to get used to reduced calories, this results in us not seeing additional results. By going through a bulking session it helps give our bodies re-adjust and when you then go back to another fat burning phase, you will find you’re able to shed even more fat.
Are There any Side Effects To Bulking?
The potential side effects you could see from bulking does depend on how you bulk up. Regardless of how you increase calorie intake, you will naturally gain weight/body fat percentage. It is, therefore, worth keeping an eye on this to ensure you do not gain excessive weight.
Potentially serious side effects such as heart problems or diabetes could come into play if you are not keeping an eye on what you actually eat. You have to increase calories when bulking but not all calories are equal. Fast food and high sugary foods are high in calories but at the same time will not have essential nutrients that the body requires and in high amounts can be harmful to your health.
The Different Bulking Diets
When looking to learn what is bulking, you will no doubt come across the two different ways to bulk up. These are known as clean bulking or dirty bulking and there are pros and cons to each. If you are new to bulking then you should focus on clean bulking.
Clean Bulking is often the way that most professionals would recommend bulking. It is a way of consuming more calories but from healthy sources. More often than not you will be eating balanced meals such as those that you would be consuming when fat burning, with the exception that you might eat more of them or increase the carbs and protein content.
If you have a set weight amount that you want to gain, by following a clean diet it might take you a little bit longer. At the same time though, most people still keep the good definition as well as finding it easier to shed the excess fat when cutting.
Following a dirty bulking diet follows the same principle of increased calorie consumption, however, you wouldn’t be concerned as to where those calories came from. Burgers, Pizza, Chocolate etc are usually all on the menu because of the high-calorie count. Those that follow this kind of diet will tend to see quicker weight gain, although it is very unhealthy and will no doubt put more strain on the body.
By eating a lot of this high-calorie food, people will often find it harder to shed the fat afterward. It is understandable as to why this diet can be appealing to people, even more so if they have had a calorie restricted routine. (if you are interested, this article might be useful)
(NOTE) At BulkingTime, we do recommend clean bulking. This is because of the potential side effects and dangers that could be associated with Dirty Bulking. If you do have any concerns then we would advise speaking to a medical professional.
When you are planning your bulking diet, you need to ensure that you are not just eating a high amount of fat. The goal is to increase your calorie intake but you also need to make sure you continue to workout. You may change your workout routine by adding heavier weights or even adding more cardio to your routine.
Something to also make sure you do is ensure you are consuming the right kinds of calories. A good bulking diet will normally consist of 20% fat, 40% carbs, and 40% protein. The first thing you need to do when bulking is to find out your current calorie intake requirement and then add 300-800 additional calories per day.
There is a good calorie calculator that will help you learn how many calories you should intake when bulking. You will first want to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), this is how many calories you should consume before exercises. Once you know this you can then include the number of exercises you do and then add the additional calories needed to bulk up.
You can find the calorie calculator here – http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
Essential Bulking Foods
There are some foods that are going to make bulking up easier, below are some foods that you need to make sure are in your bulking diet. (If you are on a budget then you might want to check out these great foods)
As mentioned you want to consume around 40% of protein, therefore protein shakes are perfect. They can taste decent and have a high protein count, many of them are also high in calories. Since they have a high amount of protein and carbs, they do make an ideal snack or count towards one of your daily meals.
Lean Meat & Fish
Protein is key if you are looking to build muscle and mass, which is why you should consume lean meat and fish. These are jam-packed full of protein, as well as amino acids to help with muscle growth and repair.
If you have done any kind of research into nutrition then you will know nuts are essential. They provide a great source of energy, which actually means they are also very high in calories. When following a clean bulking diet, they should be consumed daily because of being a source of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats.
As well as protein, you need to make sure you do consume a high amount of carbohydrates and oats are full of them. They do make a perfect breakfast or mid-morning snack, simply add some full-fat milk and dried fruits.
We all know eggs are essential for anyone looking to build muscle. Normally you might just stick to egg whites but as we are looking to increase calorie count when bulking, make sure you also include the yolk.
Salmon is great as it does contain a good source of protein as well as Omega-3. You can either eat Salmon or another oily fish, but it would be recommended to consume it at least 2-3 times per week.
Have you heard of healthy fats? Coconut oil and olive oil is full of them. Adding a little of these oils to your salad or replacing vegetable oil is a great way of getting those healthy fats into your bulking diet.
Sweet potatoes don’t just taste amazing but they are a very good source of carbs. You should replace normal potatoes (which are simple carbs), with sweet potatoes. Whether that is as a jacket potato, mashed or cut into chips.
Bulking Meal Plan
Here is an example bulking meal plan, this might not be exactly as you would want it for your own routine as it would depend on how many calories you would need to consume. You might already be consuming 4-5 meals when on a bulking diet I would recommend increasing this to 6-7.
These meals would typically be;
- Mid Morning Snack
- Mid Afternoon Snack
- Evening Snack
- 6 Egg omelet with spinach and tomatoes
- Roll Oats with Full fat milk and dried fruit
- Bagel with Peanut butter and sliced apple
- 2 Poached eggs with Salmon and Avocado
- Protein Shake with almond butter and spinach
- 2 Chicken breasts with brown rice and broccoli
- Tuna and Sweet potato
- Lean Beef chili with black beans and cashew nuts
- Salmon, Couscous with avocado and broccoli
- Turkey, sweet potato and asparagus
- Steak with sweet potato fries and asparagus
- Tuna Steak, Sweet Potato cubes, and Couscous
- Lean chicken burger with green beans and sweet potato fries
- Tuna pasta bake
- Chili Con Carne
- Protein Shake
- A handful of Almond Nuts
- Apple and Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate
- Mixed Nuts
Bulking Up Workout Plan
When looking to bulk up, you might want to change your workout plan. Usually, you will reduce the amount of cardio you will be doing, but this does allow you to do more weight workouts.
This routine requires you to workout for two days, having two days rest period and then working out for an additional two days. On each workout day, you will be doing a full body workout instead of just focusing on individual muscle groups.
To help with size and strength gains, for each workout you want to be doing 4 sets of 6 reps. Making sure that you are going for as high weight as you can manage for the number of reps needed.
- Pull Ups
- Leg Curls
- Weighted Squats
- Weighted Shrugs
- Barbell Curl
- Standing Military Press
- Side Lateral Raise
- Close Grip Barbell Bench Press
- Bent Over Barbell Row
- Weighted Lunge
- Front Dumbbell Raise
Tips For Beginners Looking To Bulk Up
In order to help make your bulking cycle a success, you should create a meal plan and stick to it. Without a meal plan, it can make it hard to stick to your diet and cause you to go off track.
As well as making a meal plan, it might be worth preparing all of your food at the start of the week. By creating your meals in bulk, you can place them in containers to last the week. This will not only save time during the week but will also help you stick to the bulking diet.
Another tip would be to set yourself realistic goals. If you don’t then you may not know when to stop. By setting yourself a specific amount of weight to gain, you have something to aim to and then progress onto a cutting routine. (Unsure about what cutting is? read this complete guide)
Continue to review your calorie intake as you might need to increase or decrease, depending on your results over the last period. It is often worth keeping a note of your weight and body fat percentage changes on a weekly and bi-weekly basis.
As well as foods to help bulk up and pack on the calories, there are also supplements designed to help you back on the strength and the muscle. The most common of which are “Mass Gainer” powders, these are formulated to help you consume more calories. Many people do also recommend the use of creatine or BCAA’s.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s it was very common to use bulking steroids, these were used by many bodybuilders as they were proven to dramatically increase muscle mass. These were eventually made illegal because of the side effects that were experienced. Since then supplement companies have been producing legal alternatives, some of which have resulted in great results. This guide will help teach you which are the best bulking supplements
I do hope this guide has helped teach you exactly what is bulking and helped you define how it will help you in your goal to increase muscle mass. Bulking can be a great way to increase not only size but also strength, you just need to make sure you do it correctly.
As mentioned before, at BulkingTime we do recommend following a clean bulking diet, as this will help to increase muscle mass as well as ensure your body gets all the nutrients it requires.
Barry is an enthusiast of all things bodybuilding and fitness. Spending many years researching a wide variety of subjects to do with bodybuilding. Barry has spent a lot of time researching different ingredients and their benefits as well as learning all about nutrition.