Summer’s almost here! And that means showing off a lot more skin. So, it’s only natural that you want to build muscle and tone up for swimsuit season!
However, Building muscle mass is not an overnight, easy task. In fact, it takes dedication, a commitment to regular workouts, and a healthy diet to reach your goals. That’s why you won’t find just anybody on the cover of bodybuilding magazines. The pros know what it takes to bulk up and stay healthy at the same time. But do you?
It isn’t a terribly complicated process, however today, in the world of fitness, it seems like most people are getting this all wrong. If you’re ready to bulk up, but want to do it in a healthy way, we’ve got you covered.
Here is how to bulk up the healthy way, in five steps:
1. Go Lean
This first step is an important one, and it is absolutely necessary. In order to add pounds of dense muscle tissue to your frame, you have to conquer your diet. That means that you’ll need to start by removing all of the junk foods in your refrigerator, pantry, and cabinets. As a general rule, anything with more than 10 ingredients goes in the trash.
Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets aid in the preservation of muscle mass, and carbohydrates come in many forms.1 One of the most damaging of these forms is sugar, and if an item is packaged, that means that it is processed. This almost always means it also contains loads of empty calories in the form of sugar. And sugar goes by over 50 different names. These include corn syrup, lactose, sorghum, maltodextrin, and agave … just to name a few.
By eliminating junk foods loaded with sugar and other potentially diet-busting ingredients, you can achieve lean body mass much faster than with just exercise alone. This will prepare your frame for the bulking phase of your bodybuilding efforts.
2. Start Making Gains
Most people like to start the bulking phase when they have between 10-15 percent body fat. And science has confirmed that is the ideal place to start, as people tend to make better gains at that BMI percentage.2
You can find out your BMI percentage at your local gym from a qualified trainer, or you can estimate your BMI (Body Mass Index) here. Once you know your baseline, or starting point, you can gradually begin to work on muscle gains. As you see the gains start to develop, you’ll need to keep close track of your BMI to know how fast the growth is happening in order to stay at a safe pace. Ideally, you want to gain slowly, adding muscle tissue at a rate of .5 to 1 pound per week. Just do not over bulk, as this can damage the soft tissues of your body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skeletal tissue.
3. Set the Regimen
Professional bodybuilders know that this is where it all happens. Without a set plan, you can’t commit to a successful regimen. Dedication to your workout routine is what will deliver the bulky physique you’ve been wanting. So, do not rush through developing this plan with your trainer. The right preparation before you start bulking can make a big difference in your results. Once you set the workout regimen and start doing the work, you will begin to see results. And then … you may want to step up your game.
4. Add Supplements
Once you start your regimen, you’ll start to see results. But if you’ve never done a bulking phase before, you might not realize just how far your body can go. The pros on the cover of bodybuilding magazines don’t get that way just by going to the gym a few times a week. Their secret to those massive gains often lies in their careful selection of specific nutritional supplements.
Here are the three best bulking supplements to feed your growing muscles:
Whey Protein. A superior protein to soy, which is a cheap filler protein found in many bodybuilder bars. You may want to opt for a whey protein powder for maximum effect.3
EFAs. Essential fatty acids are a vital nutrient needed inside every cell of your body. Without enough EFAs, you won’t be able to add bulk. Your body does not naturally produce EFAs, so you have to consume them in foods like olive oil, salmon, and almonds. You can also opt for an omega-3 supplement for your daily dose of EFAs.4
Creatine. It sounds like a single supplement, but creatine is actually a stack. Made up of three separate amino acids: glycine, methionine, and arginine, creatine is a must if you want to bulk. It works to generate more energy within your muscle cells, known as ATP, to boost your gains fast.5
5. Do a Cutting Phase
Once you have the bulk you set out to achieve, you will want to lean out with a time-honored trick of the pros known as “cutting.” Essentially, this step burns off the top layer of fat that covers your muscles. Test your BMI before and after this phase, and you’ll see how it helps bodybuilders look so “cut.” It is the final, defining step of the bulking process, and you’ll love the way it shows off your hard work.
To cut, add a fat burner supplement during this step, or simply reduce your fat content in the kitchen.
That’s it! Just five steps are needed to build bigger muscles and the bulky physique you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t let the time frame scare you off, either. With a commitment to your goals, and dedication to these steps, you’ll get there.
For more tips for better health, continue reading here:
1. Anssi H Manninen. Very-low-carbohydrate diets and preservation of muscle mass. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006; 3: 9.
2. Eric R Helms, Alan A Aragon. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014; 11: 20.
3. Carol A DeNysschen, Harold W Burton. Resistance training with soy vs whey protein supplements in hyperlipidemic males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
4. Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids Have Positive Effect On Muscle Mass, Study Shows. May 9, 2007. Université Laval.
5. Robert Cooper, Fernando Naclerio. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33.