When the cold weather hits, so do the sweaters, and you know what that means; it’s time to start bulking and packing on size, to shred down for summer. For any successful bulk, there are a few tips and tricks you’re going to need to follow, in order to get the best results and gain the most muscle mass. Here are our 6 rules to follow for a successful bulking season.
Rule #1: Increase Your Protein & Carb Intake
If you’re trying to build size, then your protein and carb intake is going to need to increase as well to support the gains you want. A clean bulk will require you to eat quality carbohydrates and lean proteins, so you can increase muscle mass and limit unwanted body fat gain. Supplementing with an extra protein shake, or carbs is an easy way to get the added high-quality protein and carbs you need to build a clean bulk. We recommend Whey Protein Isolate and Clean Carbs.
Rule #2: Increase Your Caloric Intake
Of course, by increasing your protein and carb intake, you’ll also by default increase overall caloric intake. To gain bulk, you need to be in a caloric surplus, meaning you’re eating more calories than you’re burning. If you are currently tracking your macros, then you’ll want to increase them to have added a surplus of 300-500 calories per day over your basal metabolic rate, or shredding macros. If are not tracking your macros and need help figuring them out, you can calculate them here with this free macro calculator.
For clean bulk, you also want to keep your macros in a 50:40:10 ratio, of Carbs, Proteins, and Fat to increase bulk and muscle size, or a 40:40:20 emphasizing the quality of your carb and protein sources. This is why popular bodybuilding diets are known for a large surplus of carbs and protein and limited fats.
Now just because it’s called bulking season, doesn’t mean you should eat the house. The quality of your food matters and there is a difference between a clean and dirty bulk. That being said, if you have difficulty gaining weight, then adding in higher caloric foods that are not certainly clean, is sometimes necessary. Just keep in mind, the eat big, get big mentality only applies to a small subset of individuals, who have a faster than normal metabolism.
Rule #3: Periodization Of Strength And Bulk Building
Bulking for size and strength requires a much different training protocol, then your summer shred program. During bulking season, your goal is to build muscle size in addition to strength. Therefore, periodization is important to cycle between each training modality in order to have the best possible outcome.
Strength training requires a lower amount of reps ranging between 2-6 with increased intensity at 85-100% max effort and longer rest intervals. Training for strength, however, require more than just heavy loads. Strength training is usually cycled to help save your joints and improve workout capacity.
When you train for strength, you’ll of course, build some muscle mass. But specifically training to build size is quite different in programming parameters. Training for maximal muscle growth requires higher volume training and more intensity, with minimal rest periods. This will essentially force cellular changes which will result in increased muscle size.
So, when you’re choosing a weight for bulking season, choose a weight in which you’ll reach failure within 6-10 reps. If you can complete more than 10 reps at the selected weight, the weight is not heavy enough. You only truly reach “failure” and can complete an actual set, if you can only complete a minimum of 6 reps and max 10 at the selected weight. To build maximal muscle size, it’s all about training volume. Aim for at least 3-5 sets for each exercise, at a higher intensity and a slightly longer rest interval of two minutes.
RELATED ARTICLE The Quick Guide Too How Many Reps And Sets You Should Do
Rule #4: Supplement Appropriately
If you want to have a successful bulking season, you’re going to need to supplement appropriately. Forget your pre-workout. Neary all pre-workouts and recovery products are under-dosed meaning they do not have enough of the proven ingredients you need to improve strength, and performance. If you need energy, then get it from your nutrition and water intake. If you really need the caffeine, drink some coffee. Here are our top 5 picks for the best supplements for a successful bulk.
In order to bulk, you need to be in caloric surplus, by increasing your quality carbohydrate intake. Your body also needs carbohydrates for optimal performance and recovery during high-intensity strength training. But not all carbohydrates are created equal. Swolverine's Clean Carbs® is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries to provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Most carbohydrate supplements are made from cheap modified corn starch sources, such as maltodextrin, dextrose, and cyclic dextrin which is literally just sugar.
Like carbs, supplementing with a high-quality protein is essential, especially when your body is in severe depletion of amino acids during strength and bulk training. It is vital to supply your body with an adequate amount of protein to rebuild and recover muscle mass, in times of protein deficit. A positive balance of essential amino acids will help promote protein synthesis, to increase lean muscle mass and strength.
Backed by dozens of peer-reviewed journals and clinical research, creatine is proven to increase strength and muscle mass, by improving power and force, through the stimulation of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), the body’s natural energy source for intracellular energy transfer.
Kre-Alkalynis the perfect supplement especially to support your clean bulking season. Kre-Alkalyn is a patented pH correct form of Creatine phosphate. Kre-Alkalyn was created to address the negative side effects of creatine monohydrate, namely the toxic conversion to the by-product creatinine. Creatinine is a corollary of creatine metabolism and can cause negative side effects such as water retention, bloating, and muscle cramps.
The human body uses stores of creatine phosphate, during very intense bouts of activity, such as lifting, jumping, sprinting. With the addition of creatine to support ATP regeneration, together they can support a maximum physical effort before we depend on the breakdown of carbohydrates, specifically glucose to provide energy through glycolysis. Supplementing with Kre-Alkalyn is reported to increase the content of creatine phosphate in muscle by approximately 20% Having more creatine phosphate in muscle cells means more ATP can be rapidly produced during exercise, which can lead to gains in strength, power, speed and muscle growth. Check out this review from Joel at AMRAP reviews, about his successful bulking season using Kre-Alkalyn
With increased weight added to your lifts, and more sets, comes additional muscle soreness. L-Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, which helps rebuild repair and recover muscle mass after strenuous exercise to reduce muscle breakdown and exercise-induced muscle soreness. Additionally, L-Glutamine supports healthy immune function which is vitally important during the cold winter months, since your immune system is compromised when your training increases. L-Glutamine also promotes protein synthesis, the muscle building process, to gain more muscle mass and strength. Faster recovery times between training sessions will help increase training volume and strength.
Citrulline Malate might be the best supplement of all for bulking season. Here’s why. L-Citrulline helps promote the natural release of Nitric Oxide (NO). NO is a vasodilator, therefore increasing the oxygen and blood flow to muscle tissue, to help overcome fatigue and enhance your athletic performance by maximizing endurance. Citrulline Malate also promotes an increase in aerobic energy production, by increasing the rate of oxidative ATP production during high-intensity exercise [R] NO widens the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation, without increasing blood pressure. Faster transport and circulation of macronutrients means better muscle repair, faster recovery, and optimized results [R] Not only does Citrulline Malate help with greater gains in strength with the production of NO, but Citrulline Malate also facilitates the muscle-building process of protein synthesis, influences amino-acid utilization, and increases phosphocreatine levels [R]
Rule #5: Have A Plan
Without a plan, goal, or objective, you’ll never know the quality of your bulk. The problem is that without a plan, you tend to forget what, how much, and when you eat. Without tracking your macros, and workouts, then you’ll never know if you’ve actually reached your goals or not. If you don’t know what, when, and how much to eat and you’re serious about getting bigger, then hire a coach. Learning the right way from the get-go, is going to save you a whole lot of time, money, and wasted effort up front. If you want to do well, then you’re going to need a goal and track them consistently. On the other hand, things can go drastically awry when you become obsessive and restrictive which can be detrimental to your health and gains. Either way, do it right from the start. If you need a coach, then start here.
Rule #6: Recovery
Recovery is often the most overlooked aspect of not only bulking, but training in general. Without adequate rest and recovery, your body will turn against you, becoming catabolic and setting you up for injury. Training day-after-day puts your muscles and body in a constant state of active recovery and sleep is extremely crucial for the muscle building and muscle repair process. Getting an adequate amount of sleep can have a large impact on effectively controlling cortisol levels [R]. Overtime sleep deprivation can cause an increase in cortisol levels and have negative elevated stress [R]. Loss of sleep can decrease testosterone levels by 10-15% alone. So, make sure you’re taking the necessary steps through supplementation, sleep, and active recovery to recovery faster for a successful bulk. If you're having trouble sleeping, or just seem to be constantly restless and fatigued, ZMAs might be exactly what you need to sleep better. ZMA supplements consist of a synergistic combination of three different elements: two minerals; zinc and magnesium, and one vitamin; vitamin B6. These three elements in combination can have significant benefits on your immune system, hormonal balance, athletic performance, and can also help with better sleep
RELATED ARTICLE The Benefits Of ZMA Supplements
6 Rules For A Successful Bulking Season: Takeaway
Bulking during the winter months is always a great way to add size and strength before you start shredding down in spring. Increasing caloric intake with high-quality proteins and carbohydrates will help you gain size and strength. Remember that the quality of your food does matter. Count your macros, be consistent, lift some heavyweight and don’t forget to have a plan.
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