Fall is upon us and if you are a seasoned lifter that usually means- its time “bulk”. In this peace, I’m going to share with you some ideas that you can use to add mass without getting FAT. The whole idea of bulking (putting on excess fat pounds to gain an edge in increasing muscle mass) is an old school approach and is simply counter productive.The notion of Getting Fat to Get Gains is WRONG!!! I’m going to address some strategies that can be employed to help you pack on some lean mass this winter.
Two Reasons why you don’t want to get too fat (BULK) when trying to add muscle:
- your fat cells will produce estrogen (not something you want to have too much of, if trying to add muscle)
- your leaning out strategies will only be harder
Nutrition is at the core of adding lean gains. To build more muscle, you will have to lift with more intensity (heavier loads) and to do this you will need fuel. Here are several nutritional insights:
- Increase Calories Slowly: You will have to increase your caloric intake to support hypertrophy (muscle growth) but, don’t do this all at once. Pick one meal to increase and go from there. If the gains are too slow then you can increase portions at another meal. The goal here is to make baby steps, that way your efforts don’t spill over into fat gain.
- Optimize Your Protein Intake: The amino acids found in protein is the building blocks of muscle tissue, so adequate protein consumption is a must. General range is 0.8grams – 1.5grams per pound of body weight. A healthy individual thats training intensely should go for the upper end of this range. A word of caution here: You Dont Need Mega Doses of Protein to build muscle! Taking in hugh quantities will not make the process any easier. Excessive doses of protein will be excreted out of the body thus putting more load on the kidneys. Use the palm of your hand to determine amount of lean protein per serving. Men can consume two palm-sized servings, while women can consume one. Good sources of protein include poultry, grass-feed beef, eggs, venison, bison, fish, and protein powders.
- Carbs Are Okay: there has been so much controversy over this important macronutrient. Heres the deal, don’t fear carbs because in of itself it will not make you fat. Carbs are converted in to glycogen which is what your muscles will need to push through those heavey lifts. If you are active in the gym and having an generally active lifestyle, then your body will need this fuel source to keep you at optimal levels. Well… how much?? Don’t focus on a number, but focus on getting your carbs from wholesome sources like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted bread, whole-grain pastas and brown rice. Use your cupped hand to determine the amount of grains you should have. I don’t recommend having carbs at every meal, but typically consuming them around the time you are going to be active. Something else to consider is to cycle your carbs. By this I mean being aware of your activity and adjusting your carb intake accordlingly. For instance, if you’re traveling or stuck on a project that cuts back on your ability to train, lower the carbs. This will ensure that you’re not taking in extra energy that you wont need.
- Your FAT Friend: you need fat because healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated) help to keep testosterone elevated and keeps your joints lubricated. There are a host of other benefits but we won’t go into it here.
Now that you have the fuel to grow, its time to put in the work. Luckily, building muscle is less confusing than nutrition. To build muscle this simple truths still applys: Lift Heavy and Lift Often!! The blueprint is below:
- Perform Your Reps in 8-12 Range: this range is the general sweet spot for creating more hypertrophy. This allows the load to be heavy enough to be challenging while allowing you to get a good muscle pump (getting blood and nutrtients into the muscle bellys).
- Use the Big Lifts: Squats, Deadlifts, Squats, and Rows are the foundational exercises for putting mass over the entire body. By working this movemements progressively, every major muscle group (and then some) will be stimulated for growth. Isolation movements are good, but big compound movements are better.
- Be Progressive: the progressive overload principle says that a muscle needs to be constantly challenged with heavier and heavier loads in order for it to grow. The body is highly adaptive, so if your not consistently pushing your boundries, then you are flirting with stagnation. Periodize your training, by making it a plan to lift heavier loads.
- Embrace Failure: to know that you are getting everything out of every lift and every set, you need to train to musclular failure. Have a rep range in mind, but don’t focus on that!! Your focus is on getting every little bit out of your muscles. This will take intensity and focus. If you get to rep 12 and you can keep pushing, then keep pushing. The numbers don’t dictate the workout, your Intensity does!!
- The “C” Word: remember what we are talking about adding lean mass. You need to keep a steady dose of “aerobic” activity in your program. Cardio will help you metabolize all the calories and will maintain general conditioning so you can be at your best under the heavy weights. Find the right amount for your particular body type but don’t over do it.
So there you have it, The New Bulking Plan!! Getting fat as a means to add “muscle mass” is just plain laziness. Take your time and be methodical about how your approach this, it will save you time and frustation when it comes time to really leaning out.
Yours In Health and Fitness,