For bodybuilders who want to dramatically increase their muscle size and strength, a bulking cycle is essential. During a bulking phase, you will train hard and focus on your nutrition. When everything works together and you stay consistent, your body has the best chance of growing bigger and more powerful. The key to maximizing your bulking cycle is understanding your metabolism, and feeding your body the proper foods and nutrients that will encourage the type of growth you’re striving to achieve.
Your muscles need to be stimulated into growing bigger and harder than they normally develop. It requires a shock to the system, and while you’ll do that by lifting larger and heavier weights, you need to supplement those workouts with the right eating plan. Increasing calories is essential, but you don’t want to stuff yourself full of empty calories. Your diet needs to be strategic.
It’s important to eat clean when you’re bulking. While you do want to increase your calories, gaining 20 pounds in a few weeks is not going to be productive. Your body cannot actually gain more than about five pounds of muscle per month. So, anything additional won’t be muscle – it will be water or fat or both. Focus on gaining muscle. To do that, you need to eat cleanly. The quality of your calories is more important than the quantity of the calories you’re eating.
Eating clean means high protein food sources like eggs, chicken, lean beef, and fish. You want to eat good fats, as well, which come from oils and nuts. Fruits and vegetables fall into the clean eating category, and you should make sure you include them in as many meals and snacks as possible. Eat whole carbohydrates like brown rice, pasta, and whole grain breads and crackers.
Stay away from sugar and processed foods. When you’re bulking, you want to put on muscle, not fat. That means avoiding cookies, cakes, candy, and foods that packaged and factory-made.
Eat More Calories, but Not All the Calories
You want to increase your caloric content by no more than 400 calories per day. Your muscle gain is not going to depend solely on how much you eat. Even an extra 200 or 250 calories a day will help you build better muscle mass. You need to be willing to work at this consistently over a period of months. You cannot bulk up to twice your size right away. Your goal is to increase your strength, not just the number on your scale.
Best practices say to eat between 15 and 18 calories per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you want to eat between 3,000 and 3,600 calories per day during your bulking cycle. Try this for a week or two and see how your body responds. If you need to make adjustments, you can do so after a couple of weeks. But, you want to make sure you give your body a chance to respond to the extra calories and the increased physical activity. Remember, consistency is important.
A bulking cycle is an excellent way to look and feel stronger, and to pile on increased, high-quality muscle mass. You need to plan the lifting you’ll do during your workouts, and you’ll also need to put together an eating plan that will support what you accomplish in the gym. You can take supplements as well, but there’s no magic pill. To bulk properly, you’re going to have to eat clean and increase your caloric intake gradually and wisely. Remember that not all calories are created equal – eat what matters.