As in most fitness goals, learning how to bulk up properly involves finding the right diet and supplement plan along with the most appropriate workout.
If you’re somewhat skinny and small and you want learn how to bulk up, you’re definitely in the minority these days. It’s not because most people weigh as they should. It’s that most people don’t really need to bulk up since they’re bigger and heavier than they ought to be. According to the CDC, in the US 69% of adults are either overweight or obese. These people don’t really need to think about gaining mass but should really concentrate on losing those pounds instead.
But learning how to bulk up isn’t merely about gaining weight. After all, that’s a natural “talent” for most people, and you certainly don’t need any more tips on how to gain pounds. But you need to learn how to gain mass properly, and that means gaining muscle instead of more layers of excess fat. And that goal, while popular, isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
For some people, it’s about the cycle. You start with the bulking phase, wherein you gain muscle. But you also invariably gain fat in the process as well. That problem is solved in the cutting phase, when you attempt to get rid of all that excess fat while you retain the muscle you’ve so painstakingly gained.
But some other experts think that it’s also possible to forego this “two steps forward, one step back” approach. It may be possible for you to bulk up more steadily without going through any cycle at all. Regardless of whether you choose to undergo the cycle or not, you will still need the two pillars of fitness—a proper diet and an effective workout regimen.
It doesn’t matter whether you go wish to lose weight or gain mass—a proper diet is crucial. The problem is that despite the scientific nature of this goal, there’s no real consensus on what a proper diet is. Go online and check out the topic through Google, and each expert will recommend a different type of diet.
So how do you pick which one to choose? That’s all up to you, and good luck with that. You may choose an option according to which authority figure you trust. Or perhaps you’ll make your choice of dieting plan according to what seems doable to you. You can even customize your diet by consulting a nutritionist. That may cost you some money, but it would be money well spent as it saves you a lot of time and trouble from figuring things out by yourself.
Regardless of what bulk up diet you choose in the end, here are some factors you need to keep in mind:
- Calorie amount. Becoming heavier is a matter of simple mathematics. You consume more calories than what you use up. Your body then retains the calories you don’t use up as extra weight.
It’s for that reason you’ll need to count calories, or at least eat more than what you’re used to. In fact, since bulking up properly means gaining muscle instead of fat, you’re going to eat a lot because you’re going to have to go into a strenuous workout program that involve lifting weights.
To count calories, your diet plan should have some sort of indication as to how many calories are contained in each serving of a particular dish. Some packaged items and restaurant meals offer this info. If they don’t, you may have to go online for some quick research.
But you’re going to have to track your calorie intake, because you’re going to have to fine tune this aspect of your plan as you go along. You may want to start with about 16 times your body weight in pounds.
- Healthy foods. You can’t just eat anything that strikes your fancy if you want to bulk up properly. While overweight people may eat lots of fast food, ice cream, and lots of unhealthy food, that’s not the proper course of action for you. These things will damage your health and mess with your cholesterol, and you end up being obese instead of being muscled.
That means you need to stick with healthy foods, with a special emphasis on the greens tuff like vegetables and fruits. When you’re figuring out what to eat to bulk up, you need to start with a healthy diet consisting of healthy whole foods.
You’ll also need to think about proper preparation of food, because frying your food on a consistent basis may not be all that healthy. Improper preparation may add more calories to your diet than you accounted for because of the oils you used, and it may also destroy some of the nutrients and vitamins you need.
- Macronutrient content. You’ll also need to think about the nutrients you consume, such as your protein, fats, and carbohydrates. You may also want to note your sodium intake, as well as your vitamins and minerals. Again, this can be a rather convoluted topic where experts have differing opinions, and a nutritionist can really help. If you’re going at it alone, you’re going to have to track your nutrient intake so that you can fine tune your diet later.
Of course, for proper muscle building you’re going to need lots of protein. When you exercise and lift weights, you put some microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. Your muscles rebuild by using protein, and you end up with bigger muscles when you have an adequate protein supply for your muscles to use. Some experts recommend that you take about a gram of protein for each pound you weigh. Each gram is about 4 calories.
Then you limit your fat intake. Here experts ask that your fat intake should be about a fourth of your total daily calorie intake. Each gram of fat is 9 calories.
Finally you have to fine tune your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates provide the energy you need for your workout, and it keeps your body from burning your protein stores as fuel for energy.
You need to track your food intake and your measurements regularly. If you’re not gaining weight, then you need more calories. If you’re gaining too much fat, then a reduction in your calorie intake may be in order.
Often your diet alone may not be enough to provide you with the proper levels of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need. This means you may have to complement your diet with supplements. This of course begs the question of which supplements to take.
When it comes to effective muscle building supplements, perhaps the most popular options are protein shakes, which offers a convenient and affordable way for you to get the protein levels you need without bothering too much on buying and preparing fish and meat dishes. Not all protein shakes are of the same quality, and your body may not react to them in the same way that other people do. Some types of protein shakes, for example, may cause gastrointestinal upset.
Others supplements promise faster muscle build up or greater energy, such as the ones that contain stimulants like caffeine. These stimulants may help you exercise more vigorously. Some athletes even take illegal steroids. While these substances may work (which is why they’re so popular), in most cases you’re going to have to suffer the side effects. Some of these side effects can truly harm your health instead.
When you buy workout supplements, do your research first. Check the reputation of the manufacturer and the seller, because you always risk getting a placebo or a supplement laced with toxic ingredients. And read the reviews so you have a more accurate idea of what to expect.
Just remember, supplements are not guaranteed to work. Even the best ones don’t work equally well for everyone. And make sure that you’re prepared for the side effects as well.
Like with diet plans, you’ll have lots of options when it comes to workout programs. Each expert has their own ideas on which exercises to perform and which moves to avoid. Others will also recommend various machines for you to try.
Yet despite the wide range of choices in workout plans, most experts agree that weightlifting is the key to bulking up properly. You don’t bulk up by running or cycling. You bulk up by lifting dumbbells and barbells.
No matter what kind of workout plan you choose, here are some tips that may help:
- Always warm up. Warming up makes the workout more effective, and you also minimize the risk of injury.
- Start slow. Don’t go for the really heavy weights right away. Start with the more comfortable weights and go from there.
- Track your progress. Note down how many pounds you lift and how many reps you make. Every week or so, you need to progress each time.
- Give your muscles time to rest. The rest period is when your muscles are rebuilding so they can become bigger. That’s why some people focus on a different muscle group each workout session. When that muscle group is resting, you can then focus on another muscle group. Make sure you don’t neglect your leg muscles either.
Learning how to bulk up properly is a process, and there are a lot of adjustments to be made along the way. You also need lots of determination to see it through. But in time and with hard work, you may end up with the muscles you need.