So, you want to start a bulk?
If you want to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, bulking is the fastest and most efficient way to get there. Many people struggle with building muscle because they don’t commit to fully bulking by eating enough calories to create a caloric surplus. While there are many mistakes' people can make when starting a bulk that can result in unwanted pounds of fat, it is possible to lean bulk if you take a measured approach.
We’ll go over break the tips and tricks to achieving success this bulking season.
Increase Your Calorie Intake (Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats)
As I mentioned earlier, creating a caloric surplus will help with promoting an environment that’s conducive to building muscle, you’re going to need to eat, eat, and eat some more. Size is the goal during the bulk but that doesn’t mean it has to come from unwanted fat, your diet can determine whether the majority of that size is coming from muscle or fat.
While you may add some fat during a mass-focused bulking season, it should be a goal to minimize your fat gains and maximize your muscle gains. This will make it easier when you decide to do a cutting phase because you’ll only have a small amount of fat that you have to worry about and you can focus on preserving your newly built muscle.
It starts with protein; protein is the building block of muscle mass. A successful bulk is going to require 1.2-2.2 g per kg per day. It’ll be easier to reach this daily amount if you split up your protein intake into 20-40 g servings throughout the day.
Choose lean cuts of protein like chicken breasts, turkey breast, white fish, pork loin, and beef tenderloin. Some vegetarian sources include seitan, tofu, beans, and lentils.
In addition to those sources, a high-quality whey protein supplement like COR-Performance Whey or Whey Sport is a big help. Whey protein is high bioavailable, fast digesting, and rich in essential amino acids.
For your carbohydrates, you will want to aim for a daily intake of 3.0-7.0 g per kg per day. Complex carbohydrate sources Complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent choices to eat throughout the day. Around the time of your workout, you may want to eat simple carbohydrate sources that are fast digesting. Using simple carbs after a workout can help offset cortisol levels and replenish muscle glycogen. If you feel like your body responds to lower carbohydrate diets, you can always adjust your daily intake depending on your activity levels through carb cycling. This way you can eat higher carbohydrate amounts on days where your workouts are more intense, so you can keep up the pace.
When it comes to fat, a daily intake of 0.5-1.5 g per kg per day will be a good target. Some great fat sources include fatty fish, avocado, nuts, seeds, and dairy.
Supplements to Take While Bulking
Whole food is the foundation to bulking up; if you aren’t providing your body with the right amount of nutrients you won’t be able to reach the peak of how much muscle you can build. If you want to further accelerate your results, especially as a hard gainer, supplements can be a big help.
Supplements are especially helpful for times when you’re busy or tired. Mass gainers and protein powders are a tasty and convenient way to make sure you stay on track of your macros.
- COR-Performance Gainer: With a purposefully crafted macronutrient breakdown that has quality protein, carbohydrates and fats, COR-Performance Gainer will help build lean muscle and fuel recovery.
- Whey Sport: As a perfect all-in-one post workout solution, Whey Sport is the go-to for athletes seeking a delicious high-quality protein powder with added ingredients for strength & performance. With incredible flavors and an NSF-Certified for Sport certification, Whey Sport is the choice of athletes of all types - both on and off the field.
- COR-Performance Whey: COR-Performance Whey Isolate Protein Powder is an optimal source of protein when you’re looking to maintain lean muscle, replenish nutrients after a workout, and indulge your sweet tooth guilt-free.
- COR-Performance Creatine: Creatine Monohydrate, a well-studied foundational muscle building ingredient, supports the rapid production of cellular energy to enhance muscular strength, endurance, and growth through replenishing the body's ATP levels. COR-Performance Creatine features 5g of Micronized Creatine Monohydrate. Micronization of creatine improves water solubility.
- P6 Original: P6 Original is formulated to support strength, vitality, and natural testosterone levels. Support natural testosterone production, inhibit estrogen formation, and unlock your best results.
Try the 5 X 5 System to Maximize Your Bulk
The 5x5 System is a simple and effective weight lifting program that has been used for decades to support increased strength and muscle growth.
The 5x5 System is based around performing five sets of five repetitions of an exercise. Generally, the exercises in this program are based around big compound lifts (ex. squats, deadlifts, bench press). These exercises recruit large amounts of muscle groups and allow you to push bigger weights to promote greater muscle growth. The key with a program like this is challenging yourself with an intensity that feels like 80% of your 1-rep max. Your goal should be to progressively overload your muscle by attempting to increase the total weight you can lift on each of the exercises in this program.
Here’s an example of a simple 5x5 program using full-body exercises. You only need to go to the gym 3x per week following this program. If you feel like you can handle a little extra lifting volume, you can go to the gym a 4th day to do higher rep (8-15) accessory exercises for smaller muscle groups like your arms, abs, and calves. On your rest/active recovery days you can do some for cardio whether it’s high-intensity, steady state, or playing a sport.
- Barbell Bench Press: 5 x 5
- Front Squats: 5 x 5
- T-Bar Rows: 5 x 5
Trap Bar Deadlift: 5 x 5
Dumbbell Bench Press: 5 x 5
Weighted Pull-Ups: 5 x 5
Overhead Press: 5 x 5
Barbell Row 5 x 5
Back Squat: 5 x 5
When You Should Start a Bulk
Anyone interested in increasing lean muscle mass would benefit from a dedicated bulking phase where they prioritize muscular growth (hypertrophy). Some factors like training status, fitness goals, and levels of lean body mass can make a bulking phase especially beneficial.
You Are New to the Gym
New lifters can make faster progress than advanced lifters in terms of increases in strength and muscle mass. Because of this increased sensitivity to training adaptations, bulking can be a smart strategy for new lifters to take advantage of this anabolic state. In untrained individuals, energy surpluses as high as 2000 extra calories a day combined with resistance training have resulted in large increases in weight gain where the weight gained was as high as 100% from lean body mass.
You are Plateauing
Plateaus can occur despite consistent training and dieting efforts. You’ll notice you’re in a plateau if you’re struggling to add new muscle or can’t seem to improve your strength in any lift. And this may be the perfect time to start a bulk. People who’ve eaten calories at a maintenance or deficit for a sustained period may find it easier to add muscle mass when they undergo a brief bulking phase. And people struggling to increase strength who’ve eaten calories at a maintenance or deficit may find that their ability to recover between workouts can increase from a brief bulking phase.
You are Aging
As part of the natural process of aging, we experience a small amount of muscle loss (sarcopenia). For older individuals, a bulking phase may be a smart strategy to try to offset this muscle loss by working to preserve or increase levels of lean body mass. Levels of lean body mass and strength are associated with better health outcomes and signs of longevity. [2,3]
What To Do After a Bulk
After completing a bulk, transitioning into a maintenance phase where you consume enough calories to maintain your current weight can be an effective strategy. Entering a maintenance phase can allow for a bit of “rest” from being in a dedicated diet. Shortly after bulking phases, another popular strategy that some people follow is entering a cutting phase where they focus on fat loss. If you employ a more measured bulking phase like the one recommended in this guide, you won’ have to enter as strict a fat loss phase as you would traditionally with a dirty bulk.
Benefits of Bulking & Key Bulking Tips
The main benefits of a bulk are increased levels of lean muscle mass, increased strength, supporting balanced hormone levels if you’re chronically in caloric deficits, and setting yourself up for long-term success to maximize muscle mass.
For a successful bulking phase, consume a caloric surplus of 10-30% above your maintenance calories. Advanced lifters will benefit from a more conservative caloric surplus while novice lifers can employ a more aggressive surplus.
For many individuals this caloric surplus will be around 1,500 – 2,000 calories per day.
- Use COR-Performance Creatine Monohydrate to support increases in lean body mass, strength, and power.
- Use a protein bundle to zone in on your specific goals. The COR Essentials Stack features 24 g of high-quality protein from COR Whey, the legendary explosive energy of C4 Original, and the performance recovery of Alpha Amino. This hand-picked stack has your pre, post, and protein essentials covered.
- The Intro to Fat Loss Stack is powered by the advanced fat-burning duo of CLK and C4 Ripped, this ripped stack puts you on the path to reveal your toned, lean physique.
- The Advanced Men’s Lean Bulk Stack is amplified by the iconic testosterone boosting P6 Original, this bundle drives increased strength, invigorated vitality, explosive energy, and male performance. Stacked alongside the high-quality XTEND Pro, C4 Original, and XTEND Original to unlock next-level results.