Yay, bulking (=being in a calorie surplus to build muscle mass)! What sounds like a dream for many, is in my eyes even more difficult than cutting (=being in a caloric deficit to lose fat). Why? Let’s take a look!
- Finding the balance between gaining muscle and gaining fat: some of us do not like the more “fluffy” look and don’t allow themself to eat enough; others just get into a dreamer bulk (=insane calorie surplus) and gain far too much body fat. The sweet spot inbetween is desirable as too much or too less fat are not favorable for building muscles.
- Hard gainer: you feel like you eat a lot of food but actually you are such a restless person, that it’s simply not enough; or your appetite is low (stress or whatever) and you just can’t eat that much.
Nevertheless, difficult is not impossible and therefore we collected some tips to help you on your gainz journey 😉 .
Before You Start
Note on the side #1: it is also possible to gain muscles and lose fat at the same time, that’s the so called body recomposition. Nevertheless, the body is not so prone to put on muscles since they cost energy and being in an energy surplus facilitates the process a lot.
Note on the side #2: Most of the tips are the same like for the fat loss guide as the same principles apply. Have a read on it because…
Note on the side #3: …you should “deserve” your bulk: above a certain body fat percentage, which is different from individual to individual, muscle protein synthesis is not going to happen efficiently. Consider losing fat or trying body recomposition first.
Enough said. Let’s grow. Now for real!
A Guidline To Muscle Gain
- Track what you eat: yes, exactly as for fat loss it makes sense to weigh your food and watch how many calories you eat in a honest way. It will help you to keep an overview of the food intake no matter if you are on the hard gainer side or not.
- Set calories: this one is also the same like for fat loss.
“It is not important where you start but how you adapt.”
Start rather conservative (no dreamer bulk, people!), track your progress, analyze and adapt if necessary.
- Eat enough protein: as always. Enough said. Why? Read here. To give you a number: around 1,8g protein for kg bodyweight. Spread it evenly from high quality sources through 2-4 meals a day.
- Eat enough fat: read here to know why. You can go as high as you like to fit in your macros and I wouldn’t go lower than 0,8-1g per kg bodyweight.
- Do resistance training: you should give the muscles an input to grow otherwise they won’t! Bodybuilding-like training is in this case the healthiest, fastest and easiest way to have the “toned” look everyone of us loves. Sorry, no shortcut here. But honestly, isn’t it great to move badass weights in the gym and become superhuman strong? 😉
- Sleep and relax: when you’re trying to lose fat or to build muscles enough sleep and a good strategy to deal with stressors (meditation, walking, knitting…) is the key. Believe me, this is as crucial as your protein intake.
- Track your progress: same as for fat loss. You need something to “objectively” measure what is going on. Especially for hard gainer daily weigh-ins are game-changing but also for us people with a huge appetite it’s an important tool. Add weekly pictures and hips or waist measurement to get an overall image on what’s going on.
- Analyze and adapt: I’ll repeat the same as for fat loss. For the weight, look at the average or the median of the last five days. Do not go crazy on daily weight losses and gains. It’s just water or food in the bowels. Look also at your pics and your measurements. Is something happening? If yes stick further to your plan, if not adapt your calories. Repeat as necessary.
- Be patient: if you are not taking performance enhancing drugs and are not a newbie to training anymore it will take you time to build lean body mass. Give you at least 4-6 months time for it.
Curious how muscle can change your shape? Look at my one year progress from left to right: I went through one longer cut before sommer 2017 (not ideal to be honest), slowly bulked until april 2018 and was on a fat loss diet for the last 12 weeks.
There is no doubt that adding some mass (fat&muscles) during my bulk improved the result of my latest cut: do not be afraid to bulk and -especially for the ladies- to look bulky. Enjoy the journey to shape your body, be consistent and trust the process!
What are your thoughts on bulking? Dream or lean bulking? We’d love to hear your opinion or your own story in the comment section below!
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Stefan helps me to stay on track in the neverending journey of bodybuilding with proper nutrition and a customised training plan. If you think you need some motivation too, fill the contact form and get in touch with him. He’s looking forward to help you!