In the sport of bodybuilding, “bulking up” is not just a snappy promotional phrase. Bulking up is a very specific bodybuilding discipline that has as it goals significantly increasing the mass of muscle and the physical size of the bodybuilder. Not every bodybuilder sets out to bulk up. If you come into the sport overweight, the goal is to lose weight. The type of bodybuilding exercising and the diet and lifestyle choices made for losing weight are entirely different from the athlete who wishes to bulk up and see a dramatic increase in muscle size and strength.
In addition, an athlete who is already at the weight level where they wish to compete will not set out to bulk up. But for the bodybuilder who must bulk up to reach their next plateau of success in the sport, the process of bulking up involves some very specific approaches to diet and exercise to reach that goal.
Many experts in bulking up advise the first step is to trim down. By going on an aggressive but healthy diet to get your body fat down, you will get your body to the point that any increases you make can be targeted at building muscle mass. If you put yourself through a lengthy diet that takes your total body fat down to where it is under 10%, the nutrients you begin to add back into your diet when you start to bulk up will toward building muscle. You also will have a physical focus on building muscle without the additional problem of losing fat. Since the exercise and diet plan for losing weight is much different than for bulking up, its best to accomplish these goals separately.
Once you begin your regimen of bulking up, there are very specific diet goals to hit to give your metabolism what it needs to build muscle quickly. You should increase your intake of protein significantly to where you are taking in 1.5 grams of protein for every pound of body weight you have. The protein you use to bulk up should be as pure as possible which can be gotten from turkey, lean red meats, tilapia, mackerel, salmon, chicken, tuna, shrimp and egg whites.
In addition to proteins, you should balance that diet with an increase in carbohydrates and good fats to give your body lots of fuel to burn and to convert into muscle mass during your workouts. Roughly, the same measure as you used with proteins is a good guideline for how much carbohydrate content to target in your diet. You can get good fats from food sources such as fish oils, extra virgin canned olive oil or lax seed oil.
Your exercise program will shift from fewer and longer workouts to more frequent but shorter and more intense workouts. You should work with your trainer to customize your workouts to include exercises that focus on building muscle mass. The exercise should be intense and without interruption but for no longer than 60 minutes at a time. If you exercise for too long, that can escalate your testosterone level, which is detrimental to building muscle.
Similarly, you will reduce the amount of cardio that you may have had in your workout plan when you were in the weight loss phase. You will get some cardio exercise from your weight lifting. But you should limit cardio only exercises like running or swimming to about twenty minutes per session and no more than twice a week. If you have too much cardio in your program, that will cause your body to begin to consume muscle the way it consumed weight in your earlier programs.
There are good reasons to add supplements to diet if some of the goals we laid out earlier are difficult to achieve. Along with diet and exercise, make sure you rest time is also given a priority. You should insist on 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Muscle building exercises first break down the muscle and then new muscle is built during your rest period. So that time asleep is as much part of working out as pumping iron.
These are some of the basic concepts of bulking up. In each focus area, there is much more detail to be learned which you can find in bodybuilding literature or from your trainer. By laying out a detailed and long-range plan to bulk up and to do so in a healthy way, you can achieve your size and muscle mass goals so you realize the success you want in bodybuilding.