I’m starting a bulk next week so thought this was a good time to write this post. I’ve heard from a few different girls that they are scared of bulking and I’ll admit I was really scared to start my first bulk back in January but it turned out I actually loved it!
So what exactly is bulking and why would you do it?
In a nutshell, bulking is adding excess calories to your diet. This is called a caloric surplus and it means you eat more calories than what you burn off. These extra calories help to build muscle mass, so if you want to add some size you need to eat to grow! These extra calories also give you a lot more energy than normal, which means you can lift heavier, putting your muscles under the metabolic stress they need to get bigger! But bulking does come at a cost – you’re going to add some body fat. There’s no doubt about it, this will happen! This is why a lot of girls are scared to bulk, especially if you’ve worked hard to get lean. So below I’m gonna tell you how you can keep that body fat gain to a minimum!
Clean vs dirty bulk , what’s best?
Okay so you may have come across these terms. A clean bulk means you’re going to keep all your foods nice and healthy. Think chicken, white rice, pasta, vegs etc with the occasional cheat meal of pizza thrown in . A dirty bulk is the complete opposite, you’re gonna get those extra calories and you don’t care how. You’ll eat whatever you want. So what would I recommend? As women, we all have a lovely little friend that lives inside us called oestrogen. Our little friend Oestrogen makes it a lot harder for us to shift body fat compared to men. So I would always recommend a clean bulk. Whilst 2800 cals of clean food is going to feel like you’re eat for England compared to 2800 of dirty food, (which will probably leave you surprised at how little food you get for the cals) a clean bulk is going to make sure you keep the excess fat to a minimum. You also need to think about how these foods affect your mood. Ever had a huge pig out on pizza, chips, fizzy pop followed by a dessert and felt like absolute crap the next day? Would you want to feel like this all the time? No you wouldn’t, not to mention the fact this is really going to have an effect on your training. Keep it clean girls.
How should you split your macros on a bulk?
A bulk is not the time to be scared of carbs. Carbs are your friend. Carbs are going to refeed your muscles after training when they are depleted of glycogen. This is what is going to make them grow. You also wanna make sure you keep your protein intake high. Protein helps to repair our muscles and with all that extra heavy training they’re gonna need it! I personally use a 40% carb, 40% protein and 20% fats split when bulking. This is a good starting point which can be adjusted if needs be.
Do you need to do cardio?
Whilst cardio is going to burn some extra cals , which is kind of against what a bulk is trying to do I would recommend keeping some Cardio in. Here’s why : cardio is going to burn the carb and fat stores, low intensity cardio in particular can increase your appetite, so you can get away with eating a little more on cardio days (great for cheat meal day). A mixture of low intensity and high intensity cardio will help to keep your body fat down. Try 1 session of each a week. Cardio can also help to decrease recovery time as it helps to stimulate blood flow. So if you wanna get over that heavy leg day quickly, low intensity cardio straight after will work a treat! Let’s not forget the cardiovascular benefits of cardio. It’s important to keep your organs healthy!
What supplements should you use?
I’m not going to go in to masses of detail here or else we’ll be here all day! Supplementation of course, requires research you shouldn’t put anything in to your body without knowing what it does and why you’re using it. You’ll need a post workout fast releasing protein to feed those muscles quick and reduce damage ( whey is the go to , or try soy etc if you have allergies) and a slow releasing protein for bed time to repair muscle tissue whilst you sleep (casein is your boy for this). You’ll also need BCAA’s, these are amino acids which our body can’t produce itself so they needs to come from the diet. They help to inhibit the breakdown of muscle cells, play a role in energy production during exercise, reduce muscle soreness and can help improve insulin sensitivity. Basically they are amazing and you should be using them all year round intra workout. Glutamine is another amino acid which aids recovery and stops muscle wastage, I like it use this post workout. I also like a product from bulk powders called peptopro , go check it out it does wonders for DOMS. I would also recommend using intra workout carbs , they’re the secret to new gains! There’s lots about such as maltodextrin, dextrose etc but I really like highly branched cyclic dextrin. Hit up bulk powders they have everything you need and lots of info on how these products work. Also remember to take care of your joints (especially as you’ll be lifting heavier), omega oils, cod liver oil, glucosamine sulphate and calcium will help with this.
Here are a few more things I’d recommend:
– keep a training diary, so you can progressively make your workouts harder, with weight increases, increases in number of sets etc
– get a couple of rest days, your body needs rest time to grow
– take pictures and measurements each week to track your progress
– make sure you stretch! A good foam rolling session a couple of times a week will help to stop muscle tightness
– you are going to get softer, you’ll lose your abs, feel less defined and a bit chunky. This can be hard mentally but you have to trust the process. On the plus side you’re boobies will get a little bigger yay. Try to not let it get you down!
Another small side note: if you’re currently on a caloric deficit (cutting) do not move straight up in to a bulk as you risk adding a lot of body fat. Move up to maintenance calories first, for 6-8 weeks and then increase up to a caloric surplus!
If you have any questions on bulking please contact me and I’ll be happy to help! I’m going to be doing a weekly diary of my own bulk on the blog so you can see how I get on and what it feels like to bulk before you give it a go yourself!