We wanted to create this resource to teach others how to get bulk safely and fast. You’ll learn about what the best foods to bulk up muscle are, the basics of bulking up properly, a sample diet plan for bulking up, and some of the most common questions we get about how to get big muscles and build muscle mass fast.
FOUR COMMON REASONS WHY BULKING DIETS FAIL
- Most people don’t eat enough calories when bulking up and of course, building muscle mass fails.
- Some people eat too many calories and as a result, excessive bad weight is put on.
- The thought is that since you are bulking up, you should have more cheat days than normal because you want the extra calories. Food choice is critical and making sure you have a good grip on your food intake will be a game changer.
- Most of us don’t have the luxury of going out and hiring a nutritionist to come up with extravagent meal plans, snack plans, and how to change it up every week. The key is to change it up consistently so that you don’t grow sick of the same foods and ultimately crave a greasy burger every day.
THE BASICS OF BULKING UP PROPERLY
- Postworkout (PWO) Nutrition : This is the most important aspect of bulking up. It is within the 15 minutes after a workout that your body is in dire need of nutrients. It is in a completely anabolic state, and what you take in can be optimized to ensure maximum results. A general rule of thumb is 40-60 grams whey protein.
- Carbs : Carbohydrates are a very helpful macronutrient when you are trying to gain mass. However, carbohydrates are only useful if they are used at the correct times. In our opinion, carbohydrates are only necessary for 3 meals of the day. These meals include breakfast, your PWO Shake, and your PWO Meal.
- Protein : Just like when you are cutting, you need plenty of protein. For bulking up, a good rule of thumb is 2-3g of protein per pound of lean bodyweight. You should take in a good portion of your protein in the source of real meals, avoid intaking too many shakes, as real food comes to a better benefit.
- Fats : EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) are extremely important in any bulking cycle. The list of benefits from taking in dietary fats are extensive. A diet which includes EFA’s will yield much better results. Some examples of foods with essential fatty acids include: fish and shellfish, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed (linseed), sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables, and walnuts. I’m sorry my friend, milk shakes and french fries do not count.
- Cheating : Cheating is essential. Why? Remember, the body runs on homeostasis, it likes to keep balance. After eating so well after a week, your body begins to adjust, and mass gain / fat burning over time will not be as rapid. The other extremely important aspect is mental sanity. So many diets crash and fail because people don’t give themselves a chance to breathe. Remember, cheating is not an opportunity for you to pillage the entire mall food court. Shoot for a cheat meal, but not an all out binge. A fast food value meal can easily provide over 2,000 calories. Eat that 3 times on one day and you’ve consumed 6,000 calories. Unless you are an Olympic gold-medal athlete, most likely you don’t need to be scarfing down that much food.
- Cardio : Damn right, cardio! Yes even when bulking up. Why? Because cardio works the most important muscle of all–YOUR HEART. Not only that, but doing cardio 3 times a week will help keep the fat you will gain in this diet to a minimum. Cardio should be performed on an empty stomach first thing in the morning for maximum effectiveness. You’ll do wonders for your metabolism if it gets jump-started every morning with a tough workout. The proper cardio for burning fat is done by staying in your target heart rate for fat burning which is 65-70% of your max heart rate for a period of 45-60 minutes. **Cardio Disclaimer : Some people have a harder time gaining weight than others, and doing cardio might not be the best idea for these people. For others who wish to use the fat burning abilities of cardio but still gain size, 30-35 minutes of cardio 1-3 times a week may be a better choice. Remember it is your body and only you know what works for you.
THE BEST FOODS TO BULK UP MUSCLE—SAMPLE MEAL PLAN
This is a sample diet for a typical 30 year old, 6ft tall, 220 pound man.
Meal 1 : Pro/Carb 8 Egg Whites, 1 Scoop Of whey Protein, 1 cup oatmeal 50g protein / 54g carbs / 5g fat
Meal 2 : Pro/Fat Lean Ground Beef, ¼ cup swiss cheese, green veggies 55g protein / 2g carbs / 20g fat
Meal 3 : Pro/Carb Chicken Breast, 1 and a half cup Brown Rice 55g protein / 84g carbs / 3g Fat **Disclaimer: Meal 3 can be a pro/fat meal if you are ultra sensitive to carb intake.
Meal 4 : Pro/Fat 2 Cans of Tuna, 1 Tbsp Full Fat Mayonnaise, Veggies 60g protein / 2g carbs / 13g Fat Workout
Meal 5 : PWO Nutrition 2 Scoops whey Protein / 80g of Dextrose / 40g protein / 80g carbs / 0g fat
Meal 6 : PWO Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, ½ cup Brown Rice (Measured Uncooked) 50g protein / 70g carbs / 3g fat
Meal 7 : Pro/Fat Lean Protein of your choice, 2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter 50g protein / 5g carbs / 18g fat
Meal 8 : Before Bed 3 Scoops of whey Protein, 1.5 Tbsp. Flax Seed Oil 60g protein / 3g carbs / 21g Fat
That turns into approximately 420 grams of protein, 270 grams of carbs, and 83 grams of fat. This is roughly 3,500 calories. This number is going to be widely different for everybody. The common pitfall we see over and over is that when people want to bulk up, they don’t have a clear goal weight or a plan to get there. They figure that they’ll just stop once they hit their weight, but the key to remember is that the body requires habit for change. Most people will end up overshooting their desired size and in some cases will lose control and have to work that much harder. Check out a blog post we did a while ago about planning a bulking up diet.
*Reminder: This is a PRIMER. It’s not mean to be comprehensive. Everyone is different, to find out what works for your body takes trial and error.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT BULKING UP MUSCLE
Q: What about dairy?
A: This is totally dependant upon your goals. If you don’t mind the bloat from milk then go for it. Skim milk is a better choice as far as mixing fats and carbs go. Remember you are bulking so you have more freedom in your dietary choices.
Q: How often should I eat?
A: You’ll have to do the math to see how often you will have to eat to get your 7-8 meals a day in. If your up for 16 hours a day, then every 2 hours is how often you need to eat.
Q: Is sodium an issue?
A: Outside of the bloating issue, or if you have high cholesterol, no.
Q. How do I make my meals not taste like cardboard?
A. Be creative. Mix in some sugar free jam or splenda in your oats, some hot sauce or soy sauce on your meats, or pick up some sugar free ketchup.
Q. I don’t like old fashioned oats. Can I eat the pre mixed oats with fruit?
A. No. Be a man. Those mixes have ridiculous amounts of sugar.
Q. What about fruit?
A: Go for it, like with dairy you are BULKING. You have more freedom in your dietary choices.
Q: What are some good sources of Lean Protein?
A: Eggs, Fish, Chicken, Steak, Ground Beef, whey Protein, Turkey… the list goes on forever. Do a search and look through other people’s diets for ideas on protein
Q: What are some good sources of complex carbohydrates?
A: Rice, Pasta, Whole Wheat Bread, Yams, Oatmeal… same as above.