What is the right way to bulk?
My goal is to get bigger. What is the right way to gain weight before shredding?
Despite the research that recommends otherwise, "old school" bulking and cutting still persists in the fitness industry. A safe and effective alternative is a clean bulk.
The old style of bulking involves more than just lifting heavy weight, it focuses on the nutritional aspect of gaining weight by dramatically increasing the amount of calories you eat. While an increase in calories is absolutely necessary in order to "bulk," many of these calories contribute to excess fat gain as opposed to supporting the lean muscle gains you're looking for.
First, you have to calculate your caloric intake for the day. This can be done one of two ways: simple math or using the Cunningham equation calculator. If you opt for the simple math version, here is the common breakdown:
- Determine your current weight (Ex: 150 pounds)
- Multiple this number by 17 to determine the total caloric count (Ex: 150 x 17 = 2550 calories)
- For your protein, you will want to strive to get in 1 gram per pound of body weight (Ex: 150 pounds = 150 grams of protein per day) - There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein. This means that from protein, you'll be getting 600 calories (150 x 4 = 600)
- For your fat intake, 0.5 grams per pound of body weight (Ex: 150 pounds = 75 grams of fat per day) - There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. You'll be getting 675 calories from fat.
- Rules of deduction tell us that you'll be getting the remaining calories from carbohydrates (Ex: 2,550 - 600 - 675 = 1,275) Divide that number by 4 as there are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrates (1,275 / 4 = 318.75 (round up) = 319 grams of carbohydrates)
- Now divide up these numbers for the amount of meals you'll eat per day. On average, bodybuilders tend to eat between 6 and 8 meals per day. For our 150 pound person example, let's say you eat 7 times per day. So for each meal, you should be striving to get in the following:
Protein: (150 / 7 =) 22 grams of protein per meal
Carbohydrates: 46 grams
Fats: 11 grams
If you opt to have the math done for you, here is a terrific caloric calculator that uses the Cunningham method: https://users.telenet.be/WBtE/cunning.html
Here are a few quick tips for a clean bulk:
- Eat clean - This one should be the most obvious but the calories you are consuming must be clean as a whistle. No fast food, processed foods, or fried foods. Sugar is on the blacklist. Eat a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits. Opt for cleaner and leaner cuts of meat such as chicken breasts or salmon.
- Drink your water - Water is extremely important during a bulk. You are dramatically increasing your caloric intake which means your body is working that much harder. Help it out by drinking approximately a gallon of water throughout the day.
- Lift smart - Before you start lifting for size, know what you're doing. Perfect your form for every exercise, especially the classics: squat, deadlift, overhead press. Those exercises will ensure you get to the size you want when done correctly. When done incorrectly, they'll make sure that you'll be nursing an injury on the couch.