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The Ultimate Guide to Bulking


An aesthetically pleasing body is a dream for many men and women. The likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Sylvester Stallone, and other Hollywood celebs have inspired millions around the globe to hit the gym and bulk up. But it’s easier said than done. Training your body to reach a Hulk-like figure requires more than just training. If you’re new to gym training and want to bulk up, this guide is for you.

Definition of Bulking

Let’s start off at the absolute basic. Bulking isn’t about hitting the gym, lifting some weight, and burning calories. It’s about putting on weight and muscles and looking bigger. That’s the only goal of bulking. 

Besides training for prolonged hours, you increase your bulk by taking in more calories and protein. This is opposite to cutting or shredding, where you spend more calories than you consume, thus getting into a leaner shape.

Science Behind Bulking

Proper knowledge will empower you in your journey. So it’s best to learn the science behind how bulking works.

In bulking, everything revolves around your muscle size. When you sit idle and do not train your muscles, they do not grow. You can eat and increase the fat layer, but the size of your muscles remain the same.

To increase your muscle size, you’d need to stress your muscles and make them work. This is done by weight and strength training. But working out isn’t enough. You’d have to supply the energy. And the energy which muscles demand is calories.

To build the muscles after training, you'd need to be in an anabolic state. This means your body should have proper access to fuel and energy to create more layers of tissues. This is how muscles grow over time and add up to the bulk.
But if your body is deprived of the fuel, then it enters into a catabolic state. In this state, your body breaks down the fat and muscles to create that energy. So you end up losing muscle mass instead of gaining.

That’s the reason why diet is just as important as training for building muscles.

Is Bulking Right for Me?

While everyone yearns for a muscular, bulked-up body, not everyone should get one. Before you try to bulk up, you should get the basics right. And those are you aren't a binge eater and are committed to the hard work ahead.
If you're eating a lot of junk and processed food, then you'd have to eliminate that before you start training. This diet does not provide the necessary nutrients. So you'd have to bring yourself to a balanced diet first.

Next, you should have a sufficient amount of spare time every day. To bulk up, you'll be training almost five days a week. So if your schedule doesn't allow it, there's no point in going to the gym intermittently. 

There are genetic factors, too, that you need to consider. If your body is of Ectomorph somatotype, then it'll be harder for you to bulk up. This category of people simply doesn't put on weight no matter how much they eat or exercise. Thus, they stay skinny. Mesomorph, on the other hand, finds it much easier to bulk up.

Bulking Workout Routine

Bulking isn’t going to be easy. So if Sylvester Stallone or Jessie Graff is your source of motivation, then you should be willing to put up the work.
The majority of the workout is going to be weight and strength training. Time availability per day also plays a role in deciding which type of workout to do.
If you have only three days a week of availability, then you’ll have to do a full-body strength training workout. So you’d have to touch all of your muscles each time you hit the gym. If you can devote six days in a week, then you might become a bit choosy on which workouts to do on what day.

Depending on your instructor, you’ll have to do legs, shoulders, core, back every day you hit the gym. He will also have you go slow and then increase weights gradually.

Bodyweight training like a plank, split squat, push-ups, deadlifts, glute bridges are also necessary. But they won't be sufficient, and you'd have to combine them with weight training.

But to put on more layers of muscles, cardio workouts are a strict no. These focus on burning as many calories as possible in the workout sessions. Hence, there's a risk that your body will enter the catabolic phase after you've worked out. But from time to time, you might also have to do cardio workouts to stay in shape. 

Diet for Bulking

Some trainers like to focus more on what you eat rather than how you train. But balancing the two is key.

As already mentioned, you have to be in a calories surplus state all the time. This is to avoid your body utilizing the muscles for energy. 

How many exact calories to add to the diet varies from person to person. But as a general rule of thumb, women should add 250-500 calories, and men should add 500-800 calories to their existing diet.

The source of the calories has equal importance. For muscle building, it's best if the calories are sourced from proteins. So this includes meat, dairy, eggs, protein shakes, etc. These break down slowly and thus provide the energy for a longer period of time. Besides that, they also supply the essential amino acids required for building the muscles.

The next source in the priority list will be complex carbs. Such food items like whole grains, pulses, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are some good sources.
But junk food should seldom be your source of diet. Since they contain simple carbohydrates, which break down easily, your body runs out of fuel source quickly.

Water and liquid items are also an integral part of your diet. Drink at least twice the amount you were used to drinking.

Time Required for Building Muscles

You're putting in all the effort and eating in the correct manner. So you must be wondering how long is this going to take. The answer is it depends. It depends on your current state, your body somatotype, your training workout, your diet, among other factors.

When you hit the gym and start working out regularly, you'll notice the changes quickly. Muscles will get bigger, and you'll look a lot bulkier. This is because training is a new stimulus for your body. But over time, the rate will decrease. Your body will get acquainted with the strength training and develop resistance. So to get bulkier, you'd have to train harder and consume more calories.

To Sum up

Bulking up will also make you look better and healthier. Your confidence will be high, which will impact both your personal and professional life. But however charming the end result may seem, the process to get there is extremely tough. People you see on TV or at your local bodybuilding competition have trained for years. 

They've been on a strict diet for an equal amount of time. Very few people ever get to the other side. But with dedication, consistency, and a lot of hard work, there’s no reason why you can’t become a Hulk.