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A guide on How To Start Bulking and SMASH Your Goals! 💯

How to Start Bulking

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If you’re consistently hitting the weight room and not seeing enough muscle growth progress, it may be time to start bulking!

A bulking phase is widely used by bodybuilders and lifters.
mike Hamlin
CPT | everFlexFitness

It is the intentional consumption of excess calories with the purpose of building muscle. Entering a bulking phase can drastically improve overall muscle mass to finally achieve your ideal body composition goals. 

But first, you need to read this guide on how to start bulking to learn the ins and outs to promote the best success with your muscle growth goals! 

What is Bulking – Pros & Cons

Entering a bulking phase involves consuming a caloric surplus and employing weight training to promote greater muscle mass growth. 

Many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts incorporate a bulking phase to promote greater strength benefits while encouraging greater muscle mass to support body composition goals. In contrast, an individual incorporates a caloric deficit during a cutting phase to instigate fat loss. 

Calorie intake is crucial for a bulking phase with an emphasis on protein, fat, and carbohydrate balance. 

A bulking phase can promote various benefits, including enhanced muscle strength and boosted muscle growth. These qualities are attractive for bodybuilders, powerlifters, and fitness enthusiasts looking to improve body composition, muscle strength, and muscle mass. 

While increasing muscle may be the primary target of a bulking phase, excess fat gain can occur. 

Prioritizing proper nutrition, such as protein intake, combined with resistance training can help to reduce fat gain, though eliminating fat gain completely during a bulking phase is near impossible. Bulking can also negatively impact mobility and agility, making performing in sports or other activities more challenging. 

Pros

  • Enhances muscle gain
  • Increases muscle strength 
  • Boosts a healthy libido1
  • Promotes bone density 

Cons

  • Gain weight 
  • Fat gain
  • Can struggle to eat excessive amounts of food during the bulking period
  • Can affect mobility and agility 

Maximizing Your Gains: The Perks of Bulking Up

Muscular man shirtless

A bulking phase has the potential to build muscle and promote lean mass by properly incorporating resistance training and a caloric surplus. Check out how a bulking phase can help you achieve greater results in your health and fitness routine! 

Unleashing Muscle Growth

The most sought-after qualities of a bulking phase are to build muscle and maximize gains. 

Intentionally consuming more than the body needs for a set time period promotes growth. Naturally, consuming excess calories typically results in fat gain. Combining resistance training2 and emphasizing protein intake3 over empty calories emphasizes muscle growth over solely fat gain. 

Sculpting Lean Power

Consuming extra calories while bulking also helps support lean body mass. The body can utilize excess calories to promote lean muscle mass.

Typically, after a bulking phase, a cutting phase is used to shed fat and show off new gains in lean muscle mass from bulking. A bulking phase is not meant to be indefinite, as this can result in excessive weight gain due to prolonged consumption of a caloric surplus. 

Supercharging Muscle Strength

Another added benefit for individuals who want to bulk up is stronger muscles. 

A caloric surplus increases energy levels, and the muscles are provided for, especially when emphasizing protein and carbohydrate intake. A by-product of increased calorie intake is the added potential benefit of improvements in strength training performance. 

Also Read >>> Explosive Workouts With The Best Tasting Pre Workouts. 💯

How To Start Bulking: Keys To success

Lift weights often

If you’re a first-timer with bulking, you may not know how to start on the right foot. We’re breaking down the hows of bulking so you can seamlessly jump into your first bulking phase and reap the muscle growth ASAP!

How Bulking Works

Eating all your meals throughout the day is important to ensure you remain in a caloric surplus for adding muscle mass. 

Meal prepping can be highly beneficial for busy individuals or those who may not have the motivation to figure out what meals can help them hit their calorie and macro goals.

Incorporating weight training at least 2-3 times per week is important, along with targeting each muscle group 2-3 times a week to promote steady progress with hypertrophy. 

How Long Bulking Takes

The typical length of a bulking phase for lifters is anywhere from 8-12 weeks with a cutting phase usually right after. This length of time is great for gaining muscle mass, though some lifters may choose to extend their bulking phase if they want more significant results.  

How Much to Eat During Bulking

When going on your first bulk, figuring out how many calories you need to consume can be challenging. 

For a bulking phase, it is generally advised to have a greater caloric intake4 of about 10-20% more than your body weight maintenance needs. Of those calories, it is vital to prioritize the right amount of macronutrients5 – protein, carbohydrates, and fat – to promote greater results in muscle mass growth. 

Macronutrient goals in a bulking phase:

Macronutrient Amount per kg of body weight
Protein 2-2.5g
Carbohydrates 4-7g
Fat 0.5-2g

How To Bulk Up Fast

When it comes to putting on more muscle quickly, there are some things you can do to promote faster results, like ceasing cardio and emphasizing weight training. 

It’s important to recognize that bulking takes time, so results may not be as significant as desired. Still, there will be progress within a few weeks of appropriately incorporating a bulking phase. 

If you’re looking to Bulk up fast, here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoid a caloric deficit
  • Stop doing cardio
  • Hit your calorie and macro goals with high-calorie options like peanut butter
  • Consider using supplements like protein powders and creatine
  • Incorporate progressive overload in weight lifting to promote hypertrophy 

How To Workout During Bulking

The goal of a bulking phase is to gain muscle mass. The proven method of promoting these benefits is through a combination of caloric surplus and lifting weights. 

For a bulking workout routine, it is vital to prioritize training volume and intensity to stimulate muscular hypertrophy for greater muscle mass gains. 

Tips for Bulking workout routine:

  • Prioritize compound lifts to activate more muscle groups
  • Lift heavy
  • Avoid cardio
  • Incorporate 3-4 sets with a rep range of 6-12 reps with each exercise for hypertrophy 
  • Target muscle groups 2-3 times per week

Essential Bulking Nutrition Tips

Prioritize bulking

A bulking phase may initially seem like all you need to do is eat a lot of food and hit the gym a lot, but there’s more to it than that. Quality nutrition and meal planning can make or break your bulking phase results. Don’t miss these essential bulking nutrition tips below to promote more extraordinary results! 

Foods to Eat during Bulking

During a bulking phase, it is essential to increase protein intake to support muscle protein synthesis to gain muscle. 

Unlike in a cutting phase, where low-calorie, high-volume foods are incorporated to improve satiety and hit calorie goals, a bulking phase often incorporates calorie-dense foods to promote weight gain and quickly hit calorie goals.

Although protein is frequently emphasized in diets, it is also essential to consume healthy fats, like avocados, and foods rich in amino acids to support overall health, including the immune system and recovery processes, throughout your bulking phase. 

Example foods to eat while Bulking:

  • Protein sources (fish, chicken, beef, tofu, etc)
  • Whole grains (rice, oats, etc)
  • Nut butters
  • Avocado 
  • Greek yogurt 

Foods to Limit During Bulking

While in a bulking phase and eating excess calories, it is crucial to understand that this doesn’t mean you are a human garbage disposal.

Many who start a bulking phase mistakenly believe that they can eat as much junk food as they desire, but this is not true. 
mike Hamlin
CPT | EverFlexFitness

A bulking phase combines weight training with a caloric surplus containing nutritional value to support muscle growth and recovery. Junk food is often just empty calories, high in saturated fat and sodium, that can negatively affect energy levels, cholesterol, and protein synthesis. 

There are two types of approaches to nutrition for bulking – a dirty bulk or a clean bulk. A clean bulk incorporates tracking to calculate what works best and what’s promoting the best results. A dirty bulk is a more instinctual method of eating with no limitations on food, only the purpose of weight gain to promote muscle growth. 

In the end, a dirty bulk vs a clean bulk can produce different results per person. However, we advise a clean bulk for its better nutritional value and likelihood of promoting success thanks to its calorie tracking. 

Foods to limit while Bulking:

  • Soda
  • Cake
  • Pizza
  • Bacon 
  • Chips 

Bulking Nutrition Plan Ideas

Consuming your goal for daily calories, along with hitting your macro goals, is extremely important while in a bulking phase. Ensuring you’re remaining in a caloric surplus, eating enough protein, and fueling your body with healthy fats and carbohydrates are all part of a bulking phase’s success. 

Meal prepping is a near-surefire way to stay on track, especially if you’re busy or tend to lean towards ready-to-go foods instead of cooking when you’re hungry. Many lifters who have gone through a bulking phase choose to get their weekly meal prep done on the weekend so they don’t have to worry about it throughout the week. 

Bulking nutrition plan ideas:

  • Double chicken breast, broccoli, and rice
  • Turkey breast, rice, and mushrooms
  • Tilapia filets with lemon juice, roasted garlic potatoes, and seasonal veggies
  • Eggs, avocado toast, and fresh fruit
  • Protein shake made with oats, greek yogurt, protein powder, spinach, peanut butter, and chia seeds

Supplements To Consider During Bulking

There are supplements out there that can be highly beneficial in promoting faster results in your bulking phase. 

For example, creatine monohydrate is the most researched form of creatine6 and one of the most popular supplements in fitness and sports nutrition. Over many studies, creatine has been backed by research for its benefits in increasing muscle mass7, enhancing exercise performance8, and improving muscle strength9

Research-backed creatine supplements or l-glutamine powders can promote faster and more prominent results from your bulking phase. They can help enhance recovery, support muscle protein synthesis, and promote muscle growth. 

Supplements to consider while Bulking:

  • Whey protein powder (or plant alternative)
  • Creatine 
  • L-glutamine 
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • Fish oil 

Final Thoughts On How To Start Bulking

Entering your first bulking phase may seem imposing at first, but thankfully, this guide provides numerous informative pointers and tips on how to promote the best result.

A bulking phase promotes significant results in muscle mass by entering a caloric surplus and prioritizing resistance training to enhance muscle protein synthesis. Reaching your calorie and macros goals and working out multiple times a week to target each muscle group are all part of a bulking phase.

With the help of supplements like creatine and l-glutamine, an effective bulking phase nutrition plan, and a quality workout plan, you will reap significant muscle gains from your first bulking phase!  

Also Read >>> How You Can Get Your Dream Body 101. 💪🏼

FAQs

Avoiding cardio while in a bulking phase is often recommended since the goal is to gain weight in the form of muscle rather than lose it. Incorporating compound exercises, like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, can effectively target multiple muscle groups. Resistance training is also necessary to challenge the body and promote muscle growth while in a bulking phase. 

When starting your first bulk, eating in a caloric surplus and hitting your macronutrient goals is vital. The best way to ensure you’re hitting these goals is to meal prep at the start of each week. Ensure you’re hitting the gym at least 2-3 times a week and targeting each muscle group multiple times weekly to promote muscle growth. 

The answer entirely depends on your current physique and your goals. If your goal is to build muscle, then bulk first. If your goal is to lose fat, then cut first. If you are overweight or obese with a high body fat percentage, it may be best to cut first before entering a bulking phase. 

Having belly fat is normal, so it’s okay to bulk if you have some. Typically, if you are overweight or obese, it is advised to cut first prior to entering a bulking phase. This is used to reduce body fat percentage prior to entering a bulking phase, which is designed to promote muscle growth, so once done with both phases, body recomposition efforts are more desirable. 

sources

  1. Role of High Physical Fitness in Deterioration of Male Sexual Function in Japanese Adult Men. NCBI. ↩︎
  2. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. NCBI. ↩︎
  3. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. nCBI. ↩︎
  4. Effects of Different Dietary Energy Intake Following Resistance Training on Muscle Mass and Body Fat in Bodybuilders: A Pilot Study. NCBI. ↩︎
  5. Lambert, C. P., Frank, L. L., & Evans, W. J. (2004). Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Medicine, 34(5), 317–327. ↩︎
  6. Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D., António, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., Candow, D. G., Kleiner, S. M., Almada, A. L., & Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1). ↩︎
  7. Saremi, A., Gharakhanloo, R., Sharghi, S., Gharaati, M. R., Larijani, B., & Omidfar, K. (2010). Effects of oral creatine and resistance training on serum myostatin and GASP-1. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 317(1–2), 25–30. ↩︎
  8. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. NCBI. ↩︎
  9. Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. nCBI. ↩︎

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