Hopefully you’re here because you want to know how to bulk up, get stronger and look better for it. In this article I’m not going to discuss about any of these so called “miracle supplements” that everyone is trying to get you buy, instead I’m going to tell you in less than 1,000 words everything that you need to know to pack on 2 stone in 10 weeks. If you take not of everything I write in this article, and you get off your duff and put it to work, you’ll grow like a weed.
A couple of years back I was weighing in at 9 stone (126lbs) at 175cm in height. I was the skinniest in my year at school and had literally no strength – It is very likely that I was weaker than you are now. To cut a long story short, I did a lot of research, asked a lot of questions, hit the iron HARD and bulked up to 14 stone of predominantly muscle. That’s an increase of 5 stone (70lbs). In that time I managed to bench over 320lbs, deadlift over 520lbs and squat over 400lbs. These aren’t world record lifts, but for me they were incredible achievements. Now, I’m going to tell you how you can do the same, so listen up.
The Bulking Up Triangle
There are three sides that must be done properly if you want to gain muscle mass.
- Eat more than you burn (food)
- Progressive micro trauma in the muscle (training)
- Adequate rest and recovery (recovery)
Here’s what happens. You go to the gym, you lift weights and damage your muscles, come home from the gym and eat enough so your body has excess fuel, you go to sleep so your body can repair the damaged muscle tissue and supercompensate. Rinse and repeat, but with slightly heavier weights and slightly more food each time round.
Here’s how to bulk up in more detail for you
How to bulk up Lesson 1 – Eat Enough Food
Let’s start off with the basics. If you want to grow – you need to eat more calories than you use. It’s simple physics; energy in must be more than energy out otherwise there’s no fuel for your body to build the muscles! You can’t build a house the raw materials such as bricks and similarly you can’t build muscle without proteins, amino acids and carbohydrates in plentiful supply.
The perfect amount is to eat between 500 and 700 calories extra per day. 3500 calories is equal to one pound of weight gain – therefore by eating 500 to 700 calories more per day, you’ll gain around 1 – 1.5 lbs of weight per week. This is perfect.
ANY more than this is going to make you fat. I don’t care what anybody says about eating until you’re about to explode – your body can only grow muscle mass at a certain rate, beyond that rate no amount of food is going to make any difference. Your body will simply store it as fat, and believe me there’s really no point getting fat because you’ll just have to cut it off later.
In terms of macronutrients, you need to make sure you’re getting adequate protein (around 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight), plenty of low GI carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta, wheat, oatmeal and potatoes (simple carbohydrates or sugars are kept to a minimum). Fats are low but should contain plenty of Essential Fatty Acids in a good balance. If you’re finding it hard to get your EFA’s into your diet then Google “Udo’s Oil Blend” and pick up a bottle.
Eat 5 to 6 times a day of smaller sized meals with protein at each sitting. A protein shake in water is recommended before breakfast (when you wake up) and immediately post workout. In the post workout shake, add some simple sugars such as glucose to kickstart your body out of the catabolic state that it gets in after training. This is the only time I advocate using simple carbohydrates because at any other time during the day they provoke insulin spikes that is a haven for fat storage. Any other time you have a protein shake during the day is up to you but those times are a must.
Get enough real food guys! Protein shakes are good on occasions but there’s nothing that’s going to rival the anabolic effect of getting a chicken or some nice red meat down you.
How to bulk up Lesson 2 – Progressive Muscle Stimulus
Moving onto the training. A lot of beginner bodybuilders or people who are looking to add mass will tell you that 80% of gaining muscle is down to diet. This is absolutely rubbish. If you don’t train properly then no matter what you eat you’ll never gain any lean body weight. However, if you train progressively and don’t eat very clean, then you can still gain muscle. Don’t underestimate how important the training is!
The most important thing you need to consider when you’re training is that the body will only react to the stimulus that it is put under. It will not grow bigger if you lift the same weights week in and week out. You must have PROGRESSIVE microtrauma in the muscle. This is absolutely fundamental.
To achieve this, start off with your weights at around 80% of your max, and add 5lbs to them each week. The momentum will take you past your old maximum and you’ll keep adding the weight until you plateau. At which point either take a week off or deload so that you only lift 80% of your new maximum. Using this method for beginners is so powerful – I’ve seen people whack on over 3 stone of muscle mass in 6 months – they literally changed shape.
Compound movements are essential. If you’re one of these people who does barbell curls in the squat rack then you’ll never get anywhere. You need to do heavy squats, heavy deadlifts, the bench press, military presses and bent over rows. The main part of your routine should consist of the above. Anything else you want to do you can, but only after you’ve done the mass monster exercises!
Spend no more than an hour in the gym. Spending too long in the gym will hamper your gains in the long run. Get in there, do your business and get that protein shake down your neck.
How to Bulk Up Lesson 3 – Get Enough Rest
If you don’t give yourself enough rest, not only will you not grow but you’ll put yourself into an overtrained state which means your body will suffer big time. You need 7 – 8 hours sleep at night and you should only go to the gym 3 times a week maximum. The four day split is overkill and not necessary. Most people who have been in the game for any real length of time will tell you that to build muscle 3 days in the gym is more than enough.
If you want to play football or do some other kind of sport then that’s fine, do it – don’t listen to these folk that tell you you can’t gain weight if you do any cardio whilst bulking.
If you’re feeling extremely tired one day and don’t think you’ll get the best out of your training session then give it a miss. If this happens more than once in a few weeks then consider taking a week off and then hitting it hard from scratch again – it’s a sure sign of overtraining.