For all of us guys who want to build muscle but think bulking means pigging out, it’s time for us to put down the pizza, lay off the burgers, put on our exercise clothing, and hit the gym in order to help ourselves achieve the physique we always dreamed of. None of us want to go shirtless while flabby and overweight, but on the flipside, we probably don’t want to be stripping off if we’ve a flat pigeon chest and stringy spaghetti arms as well. As far as dream physiques go, the most desirable look for many of us is a lean, ripped, muscular, and powerful physique boasting muscle mass, size, definition, and low body fat percentages. When it comes to building muscle and bulking, many people believe that it’s impossible to build muscle without gaining body fat. However in reality it’s very possible, it’s difficult, but certainly possible.
Say NO to cheat days – When a lot of people are bulking, they use this as an excuse to gorge on high calories and unhealthy junk food. Not only is that not healthy for your body, it also promotes unhealthy psychological behavior and eating habits which will only get worse and worse later down the line. Yes, in order to bulk up and build muscle you need to be consuming more calories than required for maintenance, but not several thousand more, and certainly not calories from unhealthy junk foods. By all means allow yourself a cheat meal every one or two weeks, but make sure it is a meal and not a cheat day. A cheat meal could put you above your target calories by 800 – 1000, which is a lot, but not disastrous. A cheat day could put you above your target calories by 3000 – 5000, which could carry over into significant fat gain.
Compound movements are your friend – When bulking and trying to build muscle mass, obviously you need to lift weights and get plenty of physical exercise. To get the most out of your training, make sure you place an emphasis on compound exercises as they’ve proven the most effective for muscle mass gain. Compound exercises work more than one muscle group at once, making each exercise more efficient. Flat bench barbell press for example, works the chest, the triceps, the core, and the deltoids, whereas machine chest presses will isolate the chest working just the pectorals. Isolation and machine-based exercises should still be performed in your weekly routine, just make sure you place an emphasis on compound lifts and movements, most of which involve free weights.
Up your protein intake – To maintain muscle mass, we should aim for around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, so a 200lb man would require 200g of protein each day. To help increase muscle mass, aim for 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight, so a 200lb man should now be consuming 300g of protein. Make sure your protein comes from clean sources such as fish, seafood, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, quinoa, tofu, etc.
Cardio! – Despite what people say, cardio does not destroy muscle gains, but it does keep body fat under control, which is essential for clean bulking. For that reason, make sure you get at least 3 cardio sessions in per week, with slow and steady state cardio being the most beneficial.