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Last updated: December 12th, 2017
Bulking is a term coined by bodybuilders for consuming an excess amount of calories with the intention of maximising muscle growth.
For a person to gain weight, whether it be from fat or muscle, they must provide their body with energy that comes from calories from food. Of course with the excess amount of food consumed, fat is also gained. Therefore, resistance training such as performing compound workouts will benefit and avoid sudden weight gain. However, it has been proven that you don’t have to get overweight to gain mass. There have been many who have done intermitted fasting or only eating 200 or 400 calories above their TDEE (Total Training Energy Expenditure) and have successfully gained more mass.
A good rule of thumb is to determine how many calories you need to consume to maintain your weight. Then to bulk add an extra 200 calories. If you find that during your training, you feel like you have plateaued and not improving, bump it up another 200 and if that doesn’t work bump it up again. Continue that process until you start to see changes.
Bulking is categorized into two different types. A clean bulk and a dirty bulk.
As the name suggests, a clean bulk in consumption of excess foods that mainly contain and consist of healthy balanced diets that are similar if not the same to the foods you eat when cutting but in larger portions. This meaning, eating above the needed calories in order to maintain your weight.
Clean foods include anything that comes from the earth, swims, runs or flies. Such as rice, chicken and walnuts.
Eating lots of anything. Whether it’s a family meal to yourself or having a mouth-watering mountain of a burger with a bucket of perfectly oven cooked fries with sauce dripping down your fingers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dirty bulking is just that; eating anything for the sake of gaining weight.
However, keep in mind by dirty bulking, the foods you eat may be low in nutrition and many get eating disorders by consuming too much and falling off the wagon. There is also a difference to clean bulking and dirty bulking at the end. A competitor who clean bulked will look healthier and better than the competitor who dirty bulked.
There is no right or wrong answer for how long someone should bulk. But there are minimums somewhere that would make your bulking training pay off. Bulking is not something that goes on for a day or a week but rather over several months. Some bodybuilders bulk for 6 months during their off-season (term used for the time when they are not competing) or even several years. Others just bulk during the winter because its a time where they can cover their fat with layers of clothes. Again, bulking is not a short-term goal.
An important factor that people overlook is the frequency of training that is required when someone chooses to bulk. Obviously, if you eat a lot but train less…you gain weight. A lot of weight if you’re bulking. Therefore, it’s a good idea to not strive for a certain weight goal because you will eat more to get to that weight than train to build muscle. Instead, aim for weightlifting goals. If you started your bulking season by being able to bench 40kg (roughly 88 pounds) but by the end of your bulking season you could bench 60kg (roughly 130 pounds), you are advancing forward.
An average male could gain around 1 kilo (roughly 2 pounds) to 2 kilos (4 pounds) a month, whereas females can gain around 1kilo (roughly 2 pounds) to 1.5 (roughly 3 pounds) a month. This difference is mainly due to males having more testosterone. Whatever way you choose to bulk; the bottom line is that it’s a stage of training that requires you to eat more than what your body can burn.
If you’re looking on how to cut, you can read our article on the Ultimate guide in the art of cutting.
Weight gaining supplements exist for those who can’t reach their calorie surplus. If you are just beginning to start lifting, supplements may not be that effective because you will grow size relatively quickly with the right training. However, for those who are in need of a supplement because they are bulking or they have a high metabolism, weight gainers are highly effective. Below are a few that we have chosen would be beneficial for your journey down your bulking season. Keep in mind that a supplement is just that, a supplement. You should not replace quality meals for shakes and powders because it will not give you the quality of nutrition that actual food does. Food outweighs the benefits of protein supplements.