Do you ever wonder when all of your hard work at the gym will pay off in the form of gains? Building muscle necessitates the conversion of nutrients from the diet into lean tissue with the help of strength exercises and restoration. That said, how many weeks should you be bulking?
You’re supposed to consume more calories than your body requires for a specified amount of time — which is around 8-12 weeks. While weight training, these extra calories give your body the required fuel to increase muscle build and strength. However, body fat accumulates to varying degrees.
Bulking diets, like weight-loss diets, put your body under some stress. Furthermore, most people are not advised to follow a long-term weight-gain diet. The longer you bulk, the more muscle you’ll likely grow; yet, you’ll also gain a significant amount of fat. In light of that, let’s take a closer look at the bulking process.
How Long Should I Stay On A Bulk?
When it’s freezing outside, no one cares about abs. That said, your chest, shoulders, and arms may be seen through your sweater, which is why winter is the ideal time to start a bulking program.
However, overeating too quickly might leave you with much weight to shed by springtime. So while being slim and mean throughout the winter months isn’t required, it’s also not an excuse to appear like Barney the Dinosaur during your off-season.
‘Bro-science’ would have you believe that the only way to “bulk up” is to consume whole boxes of cereal and as many cupcakes as you can. That is obviously not the case.
When you don’t mind acquiring a little body fat or need appropriate food for their exercise during the winter months, many people may opt for a slower bulk lasting anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks.
You can bulk for a more extended period or until you reach your ideal weight. To obtain your ideal physique, you could have more luck cycling through a series of bulks and trims.
The objective is to gradually increase your caloric intake—anywhere between 300 and 500 calories above your maintenance requirements. In this manner, you may grow excellent muscle without adding layers of fat that you’ll have to drop when it’s time to return to the beach.
How Does Builking Work?
Grasp how to bulk up necessitates an understanding of muscle development science. Muscle development is a physically demanding task, and calories give the necessary energy to complete the process.
In addition, you must be in an anabolic condition to generate muscle, which means your body has adequate food and energy to build and repair tissues, including muscle.
Without a calorie surplus, you run the risk of going into a catabolic state. It is when your body breaks down fat and muscle. You also risk gluconeogenesis (when your body uses muscle protein for fuel). The more calories you digest, the more energy you will have and the less likely you will become catabolic.
Furthermore, while you’re in a caloric deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn), you’re putting stress on your body, which might lead to creating cortisol. This catabolic hormone decreases testosterone and causes muscle protein breakdown.
When you consume more calories, you’re also ingesting more nutrients essential for muscular growth. Though it is possible to gain muscle without eating more calories, this generally only happens in rookie lifters since the stimulation of lifting is new to their bodies, resulting in a significantly slower pace of muscle growth.
Strength training is required to convert those additional calories into stable muscular growth. Furthermore, strength training causes muscle injury; as a result, your body initiates the muscle-protein synthesis process, which involves the repair and development of muscle.
As part of this metabolic process, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1, a hormone that promotes bone and tissue growth and development) signal satellite cells (precursors to skeletal muscle cells) to travel to the injured muscle and begin repairing it with protein.
It will be tough to gain or maintain muscle mass if you do not engage in strength training. Finally, bodyweight workouts may help you gain muscle; it simply requires a little more effort and proper training.
Managing Bulking And Cutting Phases
If you’re concerned about gaining weight, cycling through cutting and bulking periods is another strategy to achieve your goals.
In reversal, the body composition impact is the same. In other words, those with more significant body fat percentages have an easier time losing fat and maintaining gains than naturally slim people.
Not to mention that increasing the size of your muscles can enhance your metabolism, allowing you to consume more calories. It is significant since a more extensive calorie burn makes the fat loss a little simpler.
Bulking Up – How Long Does It Take?
Bulking occurs for various reasons and in different lengths for different people. In addition, because these changes are entirely new stressors on your body, you may experience results faster than a pro if you’ve never stepped foot in a weight gym and are used to eating a moderate diet for your body.
When you start doing strength training and eating more nutrient- and calorie-dense foods, your body will start to click, and you’ll gain weight a little easier than someone who has been training hard for a long time and has already made a lot of the adaptations.
On the other hand, a bulking stage usually lasts three months and allows you to gradually acquire weight (including muscle mass) and increase your weight in the gym.
In fact, according to research published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, conducting three full-body strength training sessions each week for eight weeks resulted in a 2 pound gain in lean mass, an 11% increase in chest press strength, and a 21% increase in squat hack strength.
That’s why it’s critical to eat and work out regularly to grow noticeable muscle and progress to heavier weights.
Tips For A Successful Bulking Season
I’ve put up a list of the essential guidelines to follow in the following weeks if you want to grow. Follow these guidelines for a successful bulking season that allows you to gain size while remaining slender.
Don’t Overindulge In Junk Food
The most common and dangerous error lifters make to use bulking as an excuse to eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Adding bulk is as simple as eating more calories, but your body still cares about where those calories originate, and natural, whole foods are always the healthiest sources.
Protein comes from lean meats, carbohydrates come primarily from potatoes and grains, and fats come primarily from protein sources. Of course, you can indulge now and then, but don’t expect pizza and ice cream to add inches to anything other than your waistline.
Switch Things Up A Little
It’s a common misperception that muscle building requires a different training regimen than fat removal. However, any muscle-building exercise can also help you lose weight; all you have to do is adapt your diet to meet your goals.
If you’ve been on the same schedule for a long time, though, you need to make some considerable alterations before beginning your bulk.
As previously stated, the most critical aspect in muscle growth is the training stimulus, and muscles expand when they are pressed to meet new demands. So if you abruptly change your workout (as well as your food), you’ll experience faster, more dramatic results.
If you’ve been doing circuit training, consider doing an upper/lower split for a time. If your volume has been excessive, reduce it and add weight. Try strongman or straight bodybuilding for a few weeks if you’ve been following a powerlifting pattern. Again, the new stimulus’ novelty will result in significant benefits.
Consume More Food, But Not Excessively
You don’t need as many more calories as you might imagine. In reality, studies have shown that eating extra calories isn’t always essential.
Obese patients who dieted and weight trained for 90 days dropped 35 pounds while building considerable muscle. The takeaway is that the most significant aspect in developing growth is activating muscles through exercise.
Filling them up with extra calories isn’t necessary, and it might contribute to fat accumulation. Instead, follow the Muscle & Fitness Food Pyramid’s suggestions.
Aim for 14 to 18 calories per pound of bodyweight daily. In addition, consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.4 grams of fat p/lb of body weight.
Don’t Go On A Bulking Spree For Too Long
It’s unavoidable that you’ll become fatter when you bulk for more extended periods. Even if you consume a really nutritious diet, overeating food can cause your body fat to build up over time.
At roughly 15% body fat, your body’s insulin sensitivity begins to drop significantly, and continuing to bulk beyond that threshold would result in fast fat growth. It’s time to stop when your abs start to vanish (about 10% body fat).
You’ll be able to maintain a balance of muscle building and fat reduction if you alternate bulk and reduce cycles throughout the year. You may also take a post-bulk break if you like.
Subjects exercising for muscle growth who took up to three weeks off from the gym didn’t lose much muscle and enjoyed even higher increases when they returned to training after that, according to a 2013 assessment published in Medicina Sportiva.
You Should Not Skip Cardio
Bulking does not permit you to skip exercise; recklessly eating will make you fat rather than muscular. On the contrary, maintaining a cardio exercise will help you stay slimmer while your calorie intake rises, and it will also maintain your heart in good health.
Three to four days of cardio per week shouldn’t prevent you from gaining muscle mass, but if you want to be safe, stick to low-intensity activities (walking, gentle cycling) for no more than 60 minutes. It is sufficient to burn excess calories, primarily from fat reserves, without negatively impacting hormones that aid in weight growth.
Identifying The Most Appropriate Meal Times
Exaggerate the size of the two most important meals: breakfast and the post-workout meal, to encourage muscle building without increasing body fat. Increase your carbohydrate and protein intake; a small amount of fat is also OK.
These are the two most vital meals of the day, and they will influence whether you gain or lose weight during the day. When you eat a large breakfast, the first meal of the day, you increase anabolic (muscle-building) hormones, which reduce catabolic (muscle-breaking) hormones.
As a result, muscles behave like a vacuum after training, sucking up virtually all incoming nourishment, causing muscular development while inhibiting the body’s capacity to retain fat.
Not eating enough at breakfast and after exercising, on the other hand, might sabotage recovery and lower your metabolic rate. Do you understand what occurs if your metabolic rate is reduced? It’s much simpler to gain weight.
Ensure That You Consume Enough Carbs
Protein is the most crucial food for muscle building, although carbohydrates are also necessary, particularly after exercise. If you’re trying to gain bulk, you won’t be able to obtain enough calories if your carb consumption is minimal; aim for two to three grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight daily.
Carbohydrates reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol can cause muscular breakdown by interfering with testosterone’s anabolic activities in the muscles, especially after an exercise.
That said, 40 grams of fast-digesting protein, such as whey, and 80 to 100 grams of fast-digesting carbohydrates, such as white bread, baked potatoes, sugar, honey, and fruit, should be included in a mass seeker’s post-workout meal.
Carbohydrates cause an increase in the anabolic hormone insulin, which helps push glucose, amino acids, and supplements like creatine into muscle cells, resulting in increased muscle protein synthesis.
Don’t Rely Heavily On Diet Foods
You’ll need turkey and chicken breasts, fish, and egg whites to be torn to the bone. The protein sources with the fewest calories are those. You’ll also need a lot of vegetables to keep your hunger at bay.
Many misinformed mass searchers have difficulty eating diet foods to keep low body fat levels during their mass-gaining period. What occurs in reality? They frequently fail to gain any considerable muscular mass.
Why? Testosterone. Low-fat diets (such as the lean protein options mentioned above) might cause testosterone levels to decline. Surprisingly, high-fiber vegetables can also disrupt testosterone metabolism, resulting in “so-so” rather than “wow” growth.
Switch to lean meat and entire eggs combined with egg whites instead of diet proteins. That said, eat half whole eggs and half egg whites for breakfast; if you have six eggs, discard out three yolks.
Low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, and cottage cheese are all good options to include in your diet. Your capacity to recuperate, grow, and achieve outcomes will thank you for it.
Keep Your Bulk Fresh With A Maintenance Period
Ending your diet plan with a maintenance phase, like any planned weight loss or weight gain period, is recommended to allow your body to acclimatize to the new weight and prepare for the following phase.
This may be performed by reducing your calorie intake just enough to maintain your weight. Allowing this to happen will help maintain your metabolism and gradually prepare your body for the upcoming weight reduction phase.
Bodybuilders employ bulking to improve the size and strength of their muscles. In addition to weight training, it entails ingesting 10–20 percent more calories than your daily requirements. To bulk safely and effectively, keep your calorie excess under control and eliminate highly processed nutrient-poor meals.