Bulking Up: Everything You Need To Know
Before we begin we’d like to first congratulate you on doing your research. Taking the science-oriented approach is without a shadow of a doubt your best strategy to gaining muscle mass and will certainly prove most useful.
That being said, ‘Bulking Up’ is revered by many as an impossible feat that, no matter how hard they try, simply can’t be done. However, we’ve come to say that not only is it possible, but it’s actually a lot less complicated than most think.
All you need is absolute dedication and sheer will power to see it through. If you aren’t willing to finish it to the end, then you probably won’t see results.
However, if you’re one of the few who believes they have what it takes and have accepted the challenge ahead, then it’s time to equip you with the right tools you’ll need to properly succeed.
The first and most important foundation you’ll need is KNOWLEDGE. Learn thy enemy and attain the necessary information to attack weaknesses and overcome obstacles standing in your way.
While simple, this process is by no means ‘easy’ and separates the wheat from the chaff. But, with time and consistency, you will – regardless of your body type – achieve noticeable results.
On that note, it’s time to begin your training, warrior. Advance forward and don’t look back!
Weight Gain vs Muscle Gain – The difference explained
The nice thing about human biology is how black and white it is sometimes. When it comes to Bulking, there are two types of gains you can get. One is weight (a sugarcoated way of saying fat) and the other is muscle, or sometimes referred to as ‘lean’ weight gain. Gradual muscular gain is what most people strive for- including ourselves- and is generally the preferred option.
However, we also understand that not everyone can just bulk lean muscle, which is 100% fine.
Compared to each other, every human has their own unique genetic makeup and bodily type. Because of this, we’ll address some key factors that influence your particular goals.
But before we progress to step 1, however, it’s vital to realize that the core of bulking is gaining weight. While the quality of gained mass is important, this won’t matter if the scale doesn’t rise.
Step 1: The Importance Of A Caloric Surplus
Your body is an engine that never stops running and is in constant need of fuel. This biological ‘engine’ is what powers your life essence from before you’re born all the way up until the end.
The fuel that powers and maintains Earth’s most complex biological engine has many different forms but can all be classified as nutrients. The most energy dense of which is calories.
While typical vehicles and cars have a fixed fuel storage capacity, humans are different. Unlike cars, we can store fuel almost indefinitely across our body in case of future energy shortages.
While this is now unnecessary in today’s world, it’s important to realize where this stems from.
For the vast majority of human history, food wasn’t nearly as available as it is today and many people would die of starvation. Thus, bodies that efficiently stored fat (an energy dense source of fuel) had a better chance of surviving sustained long periods of low to no caloric intake.
This is what you NEED to know about Surpluses and Deficits.
There is one factor that decides whether or not you’re gaining or losing weight, and that’s how many calories you’re eating. Of course, not all calories are equal, so strive for the whole, high-quality foods that are processed as little as possible. This means no chips or sugary junk food.
If you eat more calories than your body burns, then you’re in a Surplus and will gain weight.
But, if you’re burning more calories than you eat, then you’re in a Deficit and will lose weight.
So, Step 1 of gaining weight is to outpace your metabolism and ingest more than it can burn. For example, if your body naturally burns 2,600 calories a day, you’ll need to eat at least 3,000. However, if your goal is to lose weight, then you’ll need to eat fewer than 2,600 calories a day.
How many calories you have to eat depends on many factors including what body type you are.
Step 2: Identifying Body Type – Are You A Hard Gainer?
If you have trouble gaining and keeping mass even when you eat a lot, then you’re probably a hard gainer. As the title would suggest, it’s hard for you to gain weight. Pretty self-explanatory.
There are many potential reasons beyond just the physical as to why you might not retain mass. The reasons why often vary by person. Identify the stressors and reduce or erase them, warrior.
That said, there are 3 main classes of body types and your body is some combination of them. These body types are known by science as “somatypes”, but we’ll keep the vocabulary simple.
The three main body types you need to know are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.
- Ectomorph – This body type finds it incredibly difficult to keep and gain weight namely because of their insane metabolism. They’re also usually defined by longer limbs. Some examples would be Tobey Maguire (Spiderman) and Chris Evans from Captain America.
- Mesomorph – On the other hand, this body type is naturally broad shouldered and is very responsive to resistance exercise. Like ectomorphs, they have a fast metabolism except they typically maintain weight easier. Think Mark Wahlberg or Rocky Balboa. Many people often view ‘Mesomorphs’ as the genetic ‘apex’, but in reality, each type is equally unique.
- Endomorph – This body type is best known for its naturally large bones and wide waist and hips. Mesomorphs often have high levels of body fat and find it hard to burn fat. They can, however, look like beasts when lean. Think Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or the Hulk.
Again, it should be noted that the vast majority have different percentages of each body type. Knowing what you are is important for creating a regimen and diet best for your unique needs.
Step 3: Understanding The 3 Ways To Bulk
When it comes to Bulking, there are 3 strategies to pick from. You can either choose to Clean, Lean, or Dirty Bulk. How effective they’ll be largely depends on your body’s unique makeup. Of course, this includes other basic factors like sleep, diet, schedule, time, and cost to name a few.
Let’s go over the 3 ways to bulk and discuss their Pros and Cons
Clean Bulk – Clean bulking usually requires some form of food-prepping and is used to build healthy, quality weight. Ectomorphs and Mesomorphs will benefit the most from this method. Macronutrient management, calculations, and planning are vital in order to clean bulk properly.
Dirty Bulk – Dirty Bulking isn’t great for long-term use due to its fat-gain potential, especially in Endo and Mesomorphs. It is, however, very useful for amassing weight fast in Ectomorphs. This form of bulking is when you eat everything in sight to increase caloric intake and stack pounds. Of course, when we say everything, we don’t mean go out and binge junk food. That won’t help.
To recap, Dirty Bulking is great (short-term) for Ectomorphs. Lean Bulking is generally best for Endo and Mesomorphs. Clean Bulking is generally the best for Ecto and Mesomorphs. It should be noted, however, it will be hard to stack fat dirty bulking as an Ectomorph alongside exercise.
Now that you know the 3 methods and which one is best for you, let’s go over your attack plan.
Step 4: Creating The 3,000 Calorie Meal Plan
So, you want to build weight? Prepare to eat like a horse. Without enough food, your body will enter a deficit and metabolize mass for energy to sustain itself. As you know, the only way to prevent this from happening is to eat enough food. This will be challenging, but not impossible.
Building mass requires skill, time, patience, and ultimately discipline. Unless you can cook all your meals consistently each day, you’ll need to make your meals ahead of time, or “meal-prep”. Almost every bodybuilder, gym enthusiast, and pro athlete prepare their meals well in advance.
How To Meal Prep For Bulking
Both in theory and practice, meal prepping 3,000 calories isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. You’ll need enough food storage containers and a dedicated period of time to cook all of your meals at once instead of spending hours on end cooking food every day for weeks at a time.
Moreover, the contents of what you cook should be nutritious, simple and healthy. It should also strike a great balance between macros like fats, protein, and carbohydrates. It’s important to remember that taste isn’t the priority. If you want to build mass, be ready for peak functionality.
Our Example 3,000 Calorie 4 Meal Plan
Before we go over a well-rounded example of a 3,000 calorie meal plan, it’s important you try to eat your biggest meal in the morning and gradually reduce caloric intake throughout the day. Morning will have your heaviest meal and dinner will be the lightest (aside from your snack).
Breakfast (1,110 Calories) – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is because you’ll need to break your fast (breakfast) as soon as possible after you’ve woken up from 8 or so hours of not eating food. A good breakfast shouldn’t be complicated. We suggest eating 4 Pieces of Avocado Egg toast alongside 1 cup of greek yogurt mixed with 1 ounce of granola.
Lunch (850 Calories) – Lunch is pretty simple. Make 3 turkey sandwiches (with any toppings you desire) and eat them with 3 bananas. This gives decent carbs, protein, and cell energy.
Dinner (700 Calories) – As mentioned above, dinner will probably be your lightest meal beyond your snack. In addition to breakfast and lunch, we like the idea of a couple servings of bow-tie pasta and broccoli complemented with 2 hard-boiled eggs. Cheap, easy to prepare, and healthy.
Snack (340+ Calories) – Snacks have the most headroom for ‘caloric creativity’. While you can opt to eat 2 ounces of almonds (about 25 pieces), you can also sip on a delicious full-spectrum bulking mass gaining supplement. While we recommend the latter, your options are endless.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Bulking
My body type is almost 100% Ectomorphic, so I completely get the caloric struggle many of you guys face. I’m going to list a few things I learned that, while painful and certainly challenging in the beginning, enhanced my progress and considerably improved the outcome of my results.
Because you’ve made it this far into the article, you’re likely very serious about gaining weight. Good on you. If you don’t already have a mass gainer supplement yet, do yourself a favor and get one. This is one of if not the best tools you can use to further raise your caloric intake.
Moreover, if you’re just beginning your bulking trial (and it is a trial), you’ll need to increase your appetite. You’ll likely find it impossible to eat 1,110 calories in the morning without training your stomach for a week or two beforehand. The only way to do this is to consistently push yourself.
At first, it will not feel good. You may feel like you can’t eat anymore, and you’ll only be halfway through the meal. But in time, this feeling will subside and you’ll instead wake up voracious. One way to increase your calories early on is to set a
Never let yourself go hungry and, if you don’t feel hunger pangs, then you should still be eating. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Don’t lose focus, stay positive, workout, and you’ll do fine.
Step 5: Building Your Workout Routine
No two workouts are the same. How you’ll train depends entirely on your goals and body type.
As such, we’ll be outlining a good general routine for each somatotype. However, we encourage and highly recommend you to fine tune this basic regimen to fit your particular needs or goals.
It should be noted that this basic outline does not take warming up into account. We suggest warming up with low-weights before your workout to raise blood flow and prepare muscles.
This workout routine may confuse at first, but believe us when we say it’s well worth studying. We’ve cross-linked the “A” or “B” exercise guide under the schedule as a reference point. Also, Ectomorphs are naturally lean, so cardio isn’t as much of a focus as strength and core will be. At the same time, mesomorphs and endomorphs may likely want to add more cardio training.
The Schedule: 4 days on, 3 days off
- Mon – Upper body “A“, cardio
Tue– Lower body “B“, core
- Wed – Rest day
Thu– Upper body “C“, cardio
- Fri – Lower body “D“, core
- Sat – Rest day
- Sun – Rest day
“A” Exercises (Chest and Triceps)
|Flat Bench Dumbbell Press||10 – 12||3|
|Wide Grip Pushups||10 – 12||3|
|Cable Chest Flys||10 – 12||3|
|Tricep Dips||10 – 12||3|
|Skull Crushers||10 – 12||3|
|Cable Tricep Overhead Ext.||10 – 12||3|
|Running||20 – 30 min||1|
|Squats||8 – 10||3|
|Lunges||8 – 10||3|
|Step Ups||8 – 10||3|
|Horizontal Leg Press||8 – 10||3|
|Plank||1 – 2 min||1 – 3|
|Crunch||10 – 14||3|
| Russian Twist||10 – 14||3|
“C” Exercises (Back and Biceps)
|Wide Grip Lateral Pulldowns||10 – 12||3|
|Wide Grip Pullups||10 – 12||3|
|Wide Grip Rows||10 – 12||3|
|Hammer Curls||10 – 12||3|
|Wide Grip Barbell Curl||10 – 12||3|
|Incline Bicep Curl||10 – 12||3|
|Abdominal Crunch||10 – 12||3|
|Weighted Calf Lift||10 – 12||3|
|Stair Climber||10 – 15 min||1|
|Seated Leg Curl||10 – 12||3|
|Inner & Outer Thighs||10 – 12||3|
|Hanging Leg Raise||10 – 14||3|
|Ab Roller||8 – 10||3|
|Plank||1 – 2 min||1 – 3|
Making Adjustments and Measuring Results
If you’ve read this far, then let it be a testament to your dedication. You, above all others, stand the best chance of success. That said, we believe it’s best you find a notebook or any other type of note-taking method, or a smartphone notes app, to track your fitness results and make edits.
Now that we’ve given the in-depth tools for your success, it’s time for you to step up. However, getting started is only half the battle – and you need to win the war. One overlooked fact is people rarely personally calibrate their workout plans. This is required for long term gains.
Assuming you’re starting from or around zero, your first few weeks will mainly be feeling the rhythm. At first, your body will be (expectedly) very sore from your workouts. This soreness, however, does get better with time and consistency as your body has a chance to adapt to it.
Before you begin your process, write down your starting weight (most gyms have a scale somewhere). It may be a little daunting not knowing which weights to use, but there’s only one way to find out and that’s to feel for it. Avoid unnecessarily high weights and do not lose form.
If while you’re weightlifting you feel pain, take a break, catch your breathe, drink some water. If it’s still happening, you can either lower weight or simply switch to a whole different exercise altogether. As always, remember to write down your weights for future reference and tracking.
Over time, you’ll be able to cross-examine how your strength and weight increases over. If your goal is to lose fat and build muscle, you’ll be able to see those results, too. The most noticeable ‘mirror results’ generally begin popping out after a couple months of exercise.
The Bottom Line on Bulking
There is one factor that ultimately decides whether you’re destined to gain quality weight or set it ablaze. This ‘X’ factor is you, the type and quantity of food you consume, and your dedication.
That said, we’ve provided you all the tools and know-how you need to hit the ground running. We wish you the absolute best of luck and look forward to hearing about your progress!
As always, thanks for reading. If you’re looking for supplements to help speed up your process, you’ll probably like to check out weight gainers for more calories, and pre-workouts for energy. If you have any questions, be sure to drop us a comment below and we’ll get back to you soon!
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I train for bulking?
Bulking requires unrivaled dedication and consistency on a multitude of fronts. This includes getting adequate amounts of rest, keeping hydrated, maintaining a caloric surplus, and exercising hard to name a few. Stay on top of that and it’ll be hard to not see positive progress.
Of course, this will also require a well thought out plan of attack and strategy. We’ve outlined everything you need to know above, so do give it a read if you’re truly serious about bulking.
How should I eat when bulking?
When bulking, your main objective should be to enter into a caloric surplus. More often than not, this usually entails eating anything and everything in sight. As mentioned above, there are 3 ways to ‘eat’ when bulking and may vary largely depending on what body type you have.
To recap, ectomorphs can get away with dirty and clean bulking. Endomorphs and mesomorphs won’t fare well with dirty bulking, but will respond best to clean and lean bulking respectively.
Is cardio bad for bulking?
We get this question a lot, and the simple truth is no. Despite what many unfounded claims may advertise, cardio is important for a number of bodily functions. It helps work in tandem with strength gains to deliver more oxygen in blood (increase workout efficiency) and more [X].
As always, though, it’s vital to eat enough calories to offset the burn cardio is so well known for.