Similar to “cutting up”, bulking requires a specialized diet, which takes much discipline to follow through. Bulking is defined as the process of trying to build as much muscle as possible of a period of time. Bulking diet requires a simple equation - eat more calories than you expend. Muscle cannot build if the body is burning more energy than it is receiving through food. Therefore a bulking diet will obviously require much more calories than a cutting diet.
Under normal circumstances it is impossible to both build muscle and lose fat at the same time unless you have never trained before, are obese or on steroids. So unfortunately this means that if you want to build muscle there is a pretty good chance you will put a little bit of fat on also. This is OK, you can take it all off in your cutting cycle!
In your bulking phase your abs will probably disappear, that's life. By doing 1000 sit ups everyday all you will do is over-train and neglect other parts of your body that require energy and intensity to grow.
Obviously for your bulking diet to be effective you need to have an effective training program that emphasizes heavy lifting with sufficient rest. Assuming you have that already have that, the following will assist you with your diet.
1) Eat, Eat, Eat! - In order to grow and to be able to endure high intensity, heavy workouts you must eat like a monster. Spread your meals out, 5-7 meals a day with an emphasis on more complex carbohydrates. The reason I emphasize carbohydrates is that everyone knows you need protein, and many athletes i speak to who aren't gaining also don't have enough carbohydrates in their diet. Obviously protein is very important too. Carbohydrates cause the pancreas to release insulin which is a powerful muscle building hormone. It can also cause us to get fat, so keep that in mind. 3+ gram of protein per kg of body-weight is also essential.
Without adequate levels of carbs in the diet, your protein intake will be used as energy and not for building muscle. So eat plenty of carbs! Obviously keep your protein intake high also to enable growth. Try increasing your calories by 300 per week until you start to notice growth. I don’t believe in general calculations for required calories while bulking as everyone has a different metabolism, and there are other factors involved. Its very much individual, so experiment and find out what works for you.
2) Post-Workout Meal - This is by far the most important meal of the day, even more important than breakfast. After training, your muscles are depleted of glycogen and are aching for replenishment. Carbohydrates that are consumed within 30 minutes of working out are stored as glycogen 125% more efficiently than any other time. This assists recovery greatly. Protein is also very important as it is the building block of muscle. After working out, your body can consume 50% more protein than any other time.
We suggest taking creatine immediately after training along with dextrose/glucose powder, dextrose is a sugar that rates very highly on the glycemic index. As it is a sugar, it allows the pancreas to secrete insulin, which is a very powerful bodybuilding hormone. This insulin spike acts as a delivery system for the protein, creatine acts in addition to giving the muscles a much needed glycogen hit.It will also help reduce cortisol levels which essentially eats into muscle. Have a protein shake 10-15 minutes later.
3) Use Supplementation - As previously mentioned, you should consume creatine, and a protein shake after training. A fast digested hydrolysed protein directly after training is very effective for getting protein into the body quickly after training. A mixture of fast and slow digesting protein throughout the day such as casein, egg and whey mix will be very effective also. If you are a hard-gainer you would be better off with one that has plenty of carbs in it in order to kick start muscle growth. Ensure it is a good quality mass gainer as many of the carbs included in poor quality hardgainers is just sugar. At night cottage cheese or slow digesting casein is excellent for providing protein for your body throughout the night. Alternatively take your whey protein shake with any fibrous food, this will also slow down protein digestion. Flaxseed oil, a multi-vitamin and L-glutamine are other supplements definitely worth getting if you are serious.
4) Drink, Drink, Drink - The body is made up primarily of water, which is used up in sweating, urinating etc. This needs to be replaced, so regular consumption of water is imperative. Your body needs 4mls of water for every gram of carbohydrates to be stored as water. Make sure you spread your water consumption throughout the day as too much at once can raise blood pressure which in effect reduces the body’s secretion of anti-diuretic hormone.
5) Limited Cardio – If you really want to bulk up and build muscle you should limit your cardiovascular exercise while in your bulking phase. The reasons for this are simple, by doing cardio you will have to re-eat the calories you have burnt up as you need to be taking in more than you burn in order to build muscle. The second reason is that cardio will tire you, deplete glycogen stores and inhibit your weight training. This means you will find strength gains much harder to come by and it will result in incomplete recovery. Remember, bodybuilding is a one-way street, you are either bulking or cutting. Walking, or mid range intensity cardio can be beneficial for increased blood flow to the muscles, too much will work against you. If you find you are packing on to much fat, then do some low intensity cardio such as walking for 40mins. High intensity cardio burns too much muscle.
6) Rest- Rest is very important, it is in your state of rest that the muscles grow and you will recover. You should be shooting for 8 hours sleep per night.
7) Lift Heavy - Although it is important to vary training routines and keep the body guessing, lifting heavy weights promotes growth and targets fast twitch muscle fibres which will be your best friend when trying to grow. We haven’t seen anyone get stronger and not get any bigger consequently.
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