Nobody cares about abs when it’s cold. You can’t be seen through your sweater – but your chest, shoulders, and arms can, so winter is the perfect time to complete an extensive program.
However, if you eat too much too quickly, you can lose a lot of weight in spring.
Follow these rules for an effective bulk season so you can grow tall and stay slim.
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Don’t gorge on junk
The most common and harmful mistake that Lifter makes is to take a crowd as an excuse to eat what they want and as much as they want. Eating more calories is a surefire way to add bulk, but your body still cares where they come from, and natural whole foods are always the best source.
Eat lean meats for protein, potatoes, and rice for most of your carbohydrates, and let your fats accumulate primarily through your protein foods. Of course, you can cheat here and there, but don’t think that eating pizza and ice cream will enlarge anything other than your waist.
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Eat more, but not too much
You don’t need as much calorie surplus as you probably think. Research has shown that it is not always necessary to eat more at all.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that overweight people who dieted and exercised for 90 days lost 35 pounds while building significant muscle. The take-home point is that stimulation of the muscles through exercise is the most important factor for weight gain.
Filling with extra calories is not that important and can lead to more fat storage.
Follow the recommendations of the Muscle & Fitness Food Pyramid. Aim for between 14 and 18 calories per pound of your body weight daily. Consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, 2 grams of carbohydrates per pound, and 0.4 grams of fat per pound.
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It is a misunderstanding that you need a specific training plan for muscle building and fat loss. Any muscle building routine will also help you get leaner – you just have to adjust your diet to the goal. However, if you’ve been working with the same program for a while, there are some important changes you should make before starting mass production.
As previously explained, the stimulus to exercise is the biggest factor in muscle growth, and muscles grow when they are forced to meet new demands. You will see faster and more dramatic gains if you suddenly change your workout (just like you change your diet).
So if you’ve completed circuit training, try switching to an upper / lower division for a while. If your volume was high, cut it back and add some weight. If you’ve followed a powerlifting template, try Strongman or Straight Bodybuilding for a few weeks. The novelty of the new stimulus will bring big profits.
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Don’t cut out cardio
Just as eating with ruthless dedication makes you more fat than muscular, bulking doesn’t give you a license to give up cardio. If you keep cardio in your routine, you will stay leaner as you eat more calories and, more importantly, your heart will stay in shape.
Three to four days of cardio a week is unlikely to affect mass gain. However, if you don’t want to leave anything to chance, limit your cardio to low intensity sessions (walking, simple cycling) for up to 60 minutes. This is enough to burn excess calories mainly from your fat reserves without affecting the hormones that will help you grow in size.
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Bulk not too long
It is inevitable that the longer you accumulate, the thicker you get. If you eat excess food, your body fat will increase over time, even if you eat a very healthy diet. Your body’s insulin sensitivity tends to decrease sharply at around 15% body fat. If you continue to gain weight beyond this point, you will gain fat quickly. When your abs disappear (around 10% body fat), it’s time to stop.
Alternate bulk and cut cycles throughout the year, creating a balance between building muscle and losing fat. If you want, you can also take a post-bulk break.
A 2013 review in Medicina Sportiva showed that subjects who worked out of the gym for up to three weeks did not lose much muscle and saw even greater gains when they started exercising again.