If you ever decided to look up how to build muscle on the internet, there’s no doubt that you’ve bumped into the concept of bulking. In short, bulking is a strategy of eating more calories than you would normally expend, aka a calorie surplus. The goal is, paired with some solid weight training, the additional food will “feed” the muscles so you can pack on some serious gains. If you’ve dug a bit further in your research,which might be the reason you’re watching this video now, then you’ve likely ran into the more descriptive term, LEAN bulking.
In this article, we’re gonna jump into describing what lean bulking is and how to do it. Let’s get to it:
As mentioned, the idea of bulking itself is to consume more calories than you burn to provide sufficient nutrients for building muscle. However, just telling people to “bulk” isn’t really enough information. In fact, it might lead to the problem of unfettered bulking, where the only rule is to just to eat more. This lack of accounting for the total amount of food you eat might very well lead to excessive eating. Excessive enough where the food doesn’t translate to more muscle built, but rather, more fat stored. We see this problem in studies like the 2012 study by Garthe et al. Elite athletes that were given a heavy caloric surplus did put on muscle mass, but not statistically significantly more than elite athletes that ate 550 calories fewer. Worse yet, they ended up putting on more weigh tin fat.
A solution to problems like this might be lean bulking. Lean bulking, as the name might suggest, is the attempt to stay lean during a bulk. Gain muscle without gaining too much fat. In order to do so, the amount of calories you consume should NOT OVERLY exceed the amount you burn. Provide the body just enough nutrients to build muscle and not store fat. Now the disadvantage of this is the need for accountability and staying on top of calculating and tracking your food intake. This might deter some since bulking is generally viewed as a time to eat freely compared to a cut where there are heavy restrictions.
Lean bulking is still much less restrictive than cutting, but still require some degree of limitation. And in terms of fat gain, it still will happen. Fat gain is nearly inevitable in any type of long-term bulking endeavor. It’s just that lean bulking will mitigate fat as much as possible. This is an especially crucial point the more fit you are since you’re much closer to your muscle building potential, thus in curless absolute muscle gains which leaves you more susceptible to fat storage. In this case, something like body re composition might be a better approach than lean bulking, which we will discuss another time. Now, I do want to point out that we don’t know the exact calorie number to sustain a lean bulk.
The previous study showed excessive fat gain can occurred at a 600-calorie surplus. However, subjects were elite athletes proneto greater fat gains and less muscle growth. It might be that less trained individual scan get away with more. The main takeaway is that since we don’t know the exact calorie approach, we must adjust calorie intake on an individual basis. But I don’t want to leave you empty-handed and guessing everything on your own. Here’s some best practice points:A good starting point for a lean bulk is to maintain a 300 to 500 calorie surplus.
This should cover most people’s bases, but make sure to continuously adjust your calorie intake based on your ongoing results. More if you’re not putting on much muscle or less if you’re gaining too much fat. Now all of this is under the assumption that you’re resistance training. Make sure you get a decent program that fits your schedule and targets each muscle group at least 2 times a week. It’s also best to get most of your food from healthy whole foods, especially if overeating is an issue.
Also, make sure that you’re getting enough protein. Studies do show that a bulk low in protein is much more susceptible to storing fat than a high protein diet. I generally recommend getting 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight with an upper limit of 2.3 grams. And after doing all of that, congrats, you’re now lean bulking!
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