Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Time to Bulk...the Muscle-Building Guide!

With the ever-popular goal of fat loss covered, it’s time to move on to the opposite end of the spectrum: muscle gain. I had traditionally always been a bit skinny, so this was (and still is) a particular area of interest for me. Fortunately for the like-minded, I have also found muscle gain (or bulking as it’s called) to be far more fun than a heavy cutting period. 

Let’s start with your diet. As opposed to the numerous restrictions you have in place in fat loss period, you have almost no restrictions in place while bulking. In fact, while I would eschew a healthy diet simply for overall well-being (and more efficient muscle gain), you can do a McDonalds-style bulk and still gain plenty of muscle (along with quite a nice bit of fat).  For a healthy (or clean) bulk, you should target a protein intake of 1 g of protein per pound of bodyweight at the very least (ideally closer to 1.5-2 g/lb) daily. For example, a 200 pound man should eat 200 grams of protein per day at the very least (with 300-400 g being ideal). Calorically, you should eat a calorie amount equal to your bodyweight times 18 to 20, so our 200 lb man will be eating a diet of up to 4000 calories. (!!!) If that sounds like a lot of calories to you, you’re right. But muscles are hungry.

To get those calories, I highly recommend eating a “meal” every 3 hours. Doing so will not only help you divide up your calories, but will keep your metabolism running in tip-top shape. You can accompany the protein in your meal with any combination of fatty or high-carb foods you like, except for one notable exception. The period around your workout should be restricted only to protein and carbohydrates with very little fat intake. A usual thing to incorporate into your bulk is snacking. Calorie-dense nutrient-rich foods like nuts, dried fruit, jerky, etc. are invaluable; eat them throughout the day to help your bulk along.

Trail Mix - A Tasty Staple in the Bulker's Dietary Arsenal
With the diet out of the way, let’s move on to the lifeblood of muscle-building: workouts. You should be hitting the gym AT THE VERY LEAST 3 days a week. 4-5 days a week if highly recommended for top results. I have posted the exercises I find to be most effective on this blog as well. They are invariability major classic compound lifts (think squat, deadlift, bench press, etc.) along with some isolation exercises to give certain body parts a boost (biceps, triceps, etc.). Cardio is optional during a bulk really, but I would highly recommend it not only for optimal health, but to stave off excessive fat gain. Check the cardio article for some exercise ideas. Note however that excessive cardio is probably going to be counterproductive to bulking, so limiting intensive cardio to 2 days a week or so is best.

There you have it, the Adonis guide to bulking. Keep a log of your progress to track your body composition changes. If you find yourself gaining too much fat, simply adjust your diet to eat fewer calories. Conversely, if you find you aren’t gaining any muscle, up the calories. Simple as that guys, check out the other articles on the site for program advice, favorite exercises, and more!

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