So, the other day I posted a blog on weight loss and I got some feedback about wanting some advice on making gains. Since summer is officially over, I can’t think of a better time to talk about bulking. Bulking is basically a building phase, where you put your body under construction, wear all the sweaters, lift heavy, and eat all the calories required to build and maintain strength and size. However, there are some key do’s and don’ts to a successful building phase.
- Yes, in a building phase you get to eat more calories, and have a little more fun with your food. However, this does not mean you can go to McDonald’s on a regular basis and say “no worries guys, I’m bulking.” If you’re going to have “dirty” food, make sure that food is earned!! Push yourself in the gym, put on extra weight, go for a few more reps, really get yourself a pump and then go and enjoy something delicious like a burger and donut. You can’t just eat like shit, say you’re bulking and not put the work in at the gym. For example, the day of my birthday during my off-season I decided to do a back day because I knew I would get a bunch of treats that day and I really wanted my back to grow. So I pushed myself super hard, I added on weight to my exercises, pushed for more reps, and got a crazy huge pump! When I got home my mom had delicious treats waiting for me from San Remo Bakery. I had a cannoli, a zeppole, and a tiramisu cup with my protein shake post workout 😛 However, there was no guilt felt there!! It was my birthday and hell I earned it! So much so that when I taught Zumba the next night my lats were still so pumped that they chaffed against my tank top! So what I’m trying to say, is that bulking is not just about eating, and eating whatever you want, it’s about putting in the hard work at the gym so you can justify eating the calories required to grow. Plus the cleaner your bulk food is the better you’ll feel in the long-term.
2. You need to have a goal in mind and you need to have a plan. A building phase is the perfect time to improve on your weaknesses. Find out what areas you want to see the most improvement and then develop a plan of execution on how you’re going to improve those areas. A training plan as well as a plan for how you’re going to eat. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, carbs, and fats to help sustain consistent muscle growth. Figure this out based on how much you weigh and how much you want to grow. Then figure out what numbers your should be hitting for your macro-nutrients in order to make that happen. There are a tone of calorie counters, and resources to figure out the protein amounts in foods like chicken and so on. You need to at least be eating 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. When I first started my bulk phase I was eating just under 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight everyday. Make sure you’re hitting your macros, and try not to go over too much either. At first it may be difficult to get all the food in. This is where protein powder and carb supplements can really come in handy! You may be feeling overwhelmed and don’t worry, I found it a bit overwhelming at first! So ask for help! From someone who has done a successful bulk before, a trainer, or coach. But it is very important that you have a plan for your eating, that you’re not just eating whatever. If you want consistent long-term gains, you need to eat consistently. Hit your numbers everyday and you will be successful in putting on muscle.
3. For me, in my bulk phase, my upper body needed a lot of work. I had a good amount of muscle and shape in the glutes and legs, but my arms, shoulders, and back were quite small. So my coach developed a plan where I would hit all of these areas twice a week. I had a back day, a shoulder day, an arm day, a back and bicep day, a shoulder and triceps day, and a leg day. That was my training split. Just because my legs were not a focus does not mean you should completely forget about them!! Boys I’m talking to you!!! TRAIN YOUR LEGS! No girl wants to date a Johnny Bravo first of all LOL and second, most guys need bigger legs anyway, so it should be a point of focus. Plus training your legs will help to improve your gains!! This is because your legs are your biggest muscle group and they help to stimulate an increase in the hormone testosterone. So have a plan, and don’t forget your legs!
4. REST!! Your body needs proper rest to recover and grow! Make sure you’re getting some good sleep and you’re allowing your body enough time between workouts to recover, So if you’re training back one day, train shoulders, then legs, then back and biceps, and so on. Give yourself at least one day in between training the same muscle group.
5. Alcohol… sorry friends but it really hurts you in the gym. I used to love to party, but once I started bodybuilding I’ve really stopped my drinking. Obviously, I don’t drink at all during prep, but even in the off-season I have really cut my drinking down. Not only does it make you feel like shit the next day if you drink too much, it leaves you tired, and dehydrated. Everything becomes so much harder after a night of drinking! Plus, I would rather save calories and eat them, than just drink them away with alcohol. Alcohol is empty calories, and can really add up quickly on a good night! These empty calories will only pack on the fat, and increase your cravings for McDonald’s! Which will only make you more fat LOL and to top it all off, alcohol makes it more difficult for your body to break down fat and it slows down your metabolism. If this doesn’t convince you to slow your roll, then let me tell you how alcohol will also slow down your gains. This is because alcohol decreases testosterone levels and increase estrogen levels in the body, making it harder for your muscles to grow. Plus your body needs to be fully hydrated for your muscles to contract properly and grow. I can go on, but I won’t. Alcohol is fun, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a night out once in a while, but if you drink on a very consistent basis then you won’t see the results you would like to see in the gym.
Anyway, I have two weeks left of my prep and then soon enough I’ll be back to the drawing board for another building phase! Woo Hoo! I’m so excited for my upcoming show! It’s my first time doing Figure and I’m so proud of the growth I made over the past year from my last show in bikini! Soon, I’ll be enjoying some wicked post show pumps once some carbs are re-introduced into my life! Haha I can’t wait 😀