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Bulking is the muscle-gaining phase that everyone must go through at least a few times to achieve their physique goals. The concept is simple: lift weights and eat more calories than you burn. However, many beginners have trouble putting on weight and growing muscle throughout the entire phase. Here are seven key bulking tips to help you maximize muscle gain this year.
1. Take Things Slow
Every inexperienced lifter makes the mistake of diving into their bulking phase with no restrictions. They gorge themselves and gain 10 pounds in less than a month, leaving them with more fat to burn during the cutting phase. You need to take things slow and control your weight gain. ½ of a pound per week is a good benchmark.
Devote at least six months to the bulk to give yourself plenty of time to gain substantial muscle. Go one day at a time, slowly increasing your caloric intake every few weeks. You shouldn’t have to load up on processed junk and high-calorie foods to meet your required intake.
2. Spread Out Your Protein Servings
The ideal daily protein intake is about .8 grams per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you want to hit about 128g every day to ensure ideal muscle recovery.
Our muscles recover and grow through an ongoing process called muscle protein synthesis. Recovery never stops when you’re not training, so it’s important that our bodies have consistent levels of protein. Try to evenly spread 4-6 protein feedings throughout the day, with no more than four hours between each serving.
You also might have heard of a term called the “anabolic window.” This term refers to the short post-workout period when the trained muscles start to recover. Many people think they need to get a huge protein serving during this window, but that’s a myth. Your muscle recovery will go smoothly as long as you spread out the servings and hit your daily total.
3. Keep Your Supplements Simple
Don’t let the Instagram and TikTok fitness influencers fool you with their useless bulking tips about supplements. If you’re a young, able-bodied person, you don’t need a huge supplement collection to grow muscle. The only justifiable supplement is creatine because the body can’t produce enough on its own to impact muscle performance.
Instead of using protein powder, get all of your protein from food. Instead of buying pre-workout, drink coffee. Instead of using a multivitamin, eat more fruits and vegetables. Nature already produces everything we need to get stronger and grow muscle. Keep things simple.
4. Improve Your Form First
The principle of progressive overload guides our training. We have to make constant improvements in several areas, including strength, endurance and form. But which area is the most important? Most people will say strength, but the real answer is form.
It takes years to develop proper form and muscle engagement on most exercises. You will see much greater long-term benefits by prioritizing form before adding more weight and reps. Fundamentals always come first.
When it’s time to add weight, don’t feel pressured to add 10-plus pounds. Increase the weight in the smallest possible increments. That’s why the 2.5-pound plates are there!
5. Hit the Angles
Most of our muscle groups have multiple parts that require different exercises for full stimulation:
- Chest: upper, middle and lower pectoral muscles
- Back: trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, teres major, teres minor, spinal erectors
- Shoulders: anterior, lateral and posterior deltoid
- Biceps: short head, long head, brachialis
- Triceps: long, lateral and medial head
- Quads: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius
You need to work these muscles from different angles to achieve complete muscle growth and a balanced physique. Everyone has some minor imbalances, so don’t feel discouraged if you have trouble developing a mind-muscle connection on certain exercises. Just keep working and be patient.
6. Rest More
Your strength and energy levels will be high while bulking, but that doesn’t mean you should train every day. On the contrary: you should rest more and train less than usual during a bulk. When your body is in muscle-building mode, it doesn’t need daily grueling workouts. Exercising three or four times a week is more than enough volume to gain muscle.
You still need to go 100% during your workouts, but don’t feel pressured to hit the gym every day. Allow your body to rest and recover. Stretch and sleep more. You still have months of bulking ahead of you.
7. Don’t Forget Cardio
Cardio doesn’t often come up when discussing bulking tips, but it can be a valuable asset. You’ll find it easier to gain weight as the bulk goes on, which isn’t a good thing. Remember: gaining ½ pound per week is enough. You can use cardio to burn more calories and manage your weight gain. Plus, it’s just a healthy habit to get into.
Let Bulking Season Begin
Summer has come to an end and bulking season has arrived. Follow these bulking tips to maximize your muscle gain and achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle. When you get down to the fundamentals, everything else seems much simpler.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.