Getting bigger can be a challenging and time-consuming process, and in my opinion, it’s even more difficult than losing weight. Getting jacked (aka weight gain) through a bulking phase means eating a LOT of food, all the time. I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you bulk up effectively and gain as much muscle as possible without gaining too much fat. Gaining fat is inevitable any time you gain weight, but if you follow these tips, you’ll still be able to maintain a lean physique during the bulking phase.
Now, depending on their metabolism, some people can eat whatever they want and still gain weight without turning into a pig (getting fat). Let me tell you, those people are rare for one and two who are extremely unhealthy, even if they don’t get fat. Third, getting your calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) from unhealthy sources is not as effective for gaining muscle. 20 grams of protein from a Big Mac is not as high-quality protein as 20 grams of protein from grilled chicken. Eating more than 2000-5000 calories of clean food is what makes the bulking phase so challenging, it’s a lot of food. You have to eat all day and you won’t feel like eating part of the time. But I can promise you it will be worth it. You will stay relatively slim and feel much better throughout the process.
Gain weight slowly!
Try to gain between half a pound a week and 1 pound a week at the most. Gaining muscle is a complicated and slow process. If you’re trying to gain more than a pound a week, chances are you’ll gain more fat than muscle. You can only gain muscle so fast, so don’t try to go any further, as you’ll just gain too much fat. Now, there are exceptions. If you are gaining a pound a week and you notice that you are not gaining weight, then I would tell you to increase it. If you can gain 2lbs per week and experience minimal fat gain, then great, keep going. But I’d say most people just can’t do this. To avoid gaining too much fat, do yourself a favor and take it easy.
Increase your calories slowly!
This advice goes hand in hand with gaining weight slowly. DO NOT go from eating 1400-2500 calories a day to 3000-5000+ calories a day overnight. This will only throw your metabolism into overdrive and cause you to gain more fat than you intended. My recommendation would be to take it easy and increase your calories by 500 each week until you reach your calorie goal. Slow and steady wins the race.
Keep doing cardio!
A common mistake I see when someone is bulking up is that they stop doing cardio altogether. While doing high-intensity cardio every day isn’t a good idea, you should still do low-intensity cardio at least a few times a week for a number of reasons. Doing high-intensity cardio every day is a bad idea because you’re trying to gain weight and burning more calories just means you have to eat more. Doing low-intensity cardio at least twice a week is a good idea because cardio speeds up your metabolism (meaning you’ll be hungry and able to eat more) and is great for maintaining cardiovascular health. Low-intensity cardio will also help you burn any fat you’ve accumulated during the bulking phase.
Keep your macronutrients under control!
When you’re trying to gain muscle mass, it’s CRUCIAL that you maintain your macronutrients properly. Macronutrients are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Each of these macronutrients plays a crucial role in building muscle and none of them should be neglected. 8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight is recommended while bulking. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you should eat between 160 and 200 grams of protein a day and no more. Don’t believe the common misconception that you need more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, it’s sheer nonsense. Your body can only use so much protein, and too much (more than 1 gram per pound) is bad for your kidneys and can be stored as fat. For fats, 30-35% of calories should come from fat. Each gram of fat is 9 calories. So if you eat 3000 calories a day you would make (3000 X.30)/9= 100 grams of fat. That would mean that 900 calories (100 grams of fat x 9 calories per gram) come from fat, which would be 30 percent of 3,000 calories. The rest of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, so just divide your remaining calories by 4 (since carbs have 4 calories per gram) and eat that number of grams. So if you are eating 200 grams of protein a day (200 X 4 = 800 calories) and 100 grams of fat a day (100 x 9 = 900 calories) and you are eating 3000 calories a day, you would do the equation (3000 – 1700 ( combined calories from fat and protein) = 1300 calories/4 = 325 grams of carbohydrates per day.
I know all this information can seem overwhelming and difficult to accept, but I can promise you that once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to stop. Gaining muscle mass can be tricky, but it’s critical to creating the physique of your dreams. Not to mention that the more muscle mass you have, the easier it will be for you to lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. Follow these steps and I can guarantee you’ll gain muscle while keeping your physique relatively lean.