Bulking season is the best season. I’ve always said it and I’ll always will. Yeah, maybe you don’t look so aesthetic as in a cutting phase, but your strength, energy levels and humor are no another level.
One of the big risks when doing a bulking phase is gaining too much fat. Before you start e bulking phase, there is one thing that you need to have very clear: you will gain fat. Maybe a lot, maybe a little, it depends. But part of the weight you gain will be fat. No one gains solely muscle. It doesn’t matter how “clean” you eat and how much you train, there will always be some fat gain.
The problem is that it is very easy to lose control when bulking, and if that happens you will end up eating too much. You are bulking so, its all good, right? Wrong. That excess of calories translates into an excessive fat gain that you will have to eliminate during your cutting phase. And the more body fat you have, the longer your cutting phase will be.
That’s why today I am bringing you 4 easy tips to stay relatively lean during your next bulking phase.
CLEAN BULK VS DIRTY BULK
The key to weight gain is a caloric surplus, that is eating more calories than your body needs during your day. Without this, you cannot gain weight.
That being said, there are two big different approaches nutritionally talking. One of them is the “dirty bulk”.
It consists basically on eating whatever you want. Eating on a caloric surplus but without control, just eating and eating whatever you feel like eating at industrial quantities. In my opinion, this is exactly what you should never do. It not only leads to leads to unnecessary fat gain (exactly what you want to avoid), it also messes up with your digestive system, hormones secretion, skin, etc.
Instead, you should aim for a clean bulk. Clean bulking is a bulking method which consists on eating on a slightly/moderate calorie surplus (never surpassing 500kcal above your maintenance levels) using high quality and nutrient dense foods. This way you make sure you are providing your body with enough calories to grow and build new muscle tissue, and you are also making sure you also you are not overeating. You will be able to build lean muscle mass as well as reduce the amount of fat you will gain and you won’t make your internal organs suffer so much, you will keep your sking healthy and your hormonal system stable.
This, without a doubt, is the most important tip. This is the big key. If you are looking to start a bulking phase soon remember: clean bulk!!
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YOUR STARTING POINT
Another of the big factors that wil determine how you look during your bulk, and how lean you stay, is your starting point.
Let’s say you gain 10 kg in 6 months. Obviously, you won’t look the same if you were at 8% body fat when you started as if you were at 15%. The leaner you are when you start, the leaner you are going to stay. That’s why I always recommend doing a bulking phase after completing a cutting phase, or at least start on a relatively low body fat percentage.
One of the most common methods to decrease your body fat during a bulking phase is incorporating mini cuts.
As you get deeper and deeper into your bulk, the weight gain will get more obvious, you start losing definition, you get more bloated and “fluffy”.
The idea behind mini cuts is basically decrease that bloating feeling, lose some body fat before you continue gaining weight and to give yourself a break. After a long period of time in a caloric surplus your body starts getting saturated because of all that food and you end up losing your appetite. Doing a mini cut will help you not only to get your appetite back and avoid force feeding, but also to lose some fat and recover some lines.
As for the frequency and duration, it depends. Personally, I do them when I’ve completely lost my appetite and I’ve lost any sign of definition, and they usually last 4 – 5 weeks.
We all love them. And maybe bulking sounds like the perfect time to have them. The truth is, it is the perfect time to have them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t control them. Enjoy them, but control yourself. You don’t need to skyrocket your caloric intake for that day. You are trying to gain muscle, not to get fat.
The best time of the day is either pre or post workout. Pre workout, because you will be able to utilize all that excess of energy. And post workout because your body will be able to get the most out of all those proteins, carbs and fats.
On another hand, being on a surplus means that you probably are consuming a decent amount of calories every day so, you could use all those calories to make the healthy versions of the foods you usually it, so you can enjoy your diet more and you avoid cravings. If you usually go for a pizza on your cheat meal, for example, try to make a healthier version of that pizza so you can have it more often. Just make sure you make it fit your macros and calories requirements for the day.
What I usually do is most of the times I plan my cheat meals to make them fit my nutritional requirements for the day. Again, you are bulking, the calorie range you can play with is pretty big, so you shouldn’t have any major problem making them fit. You can go a bit above every now and then: if you are eating 3500 cals a day, there is no problem hitting 4000 one day. But if every week you have a day when you get 6000… that’s a different story.
Balance is the key, as always.
That’s it for today’s post!! If you have any doubt, question, suggestion or constructive critic, please do not hesitate to let it in the comments section or use my social media.
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See you in the next one! :)