For many beginning weightlifters the first challenge to face is actually bulking up your body weight before you can begin to develop the muscles that you so desperately crave. For many, gaining weight might seem to be an easy task. For others, it may be more difficult than the actual weight training itself. The bodybuilding definition of "bulking up" is quite simply gaining bodyweight by adding both fat and muscle. While advancements in the science of bodybuilding have proven that a good ongoing nutritional program is better than the old school concept of putting on as much weight as quickly as possible, there are still some folks out there that may be starting their weight training at an extremely low bodyweight. For these people, bulking up will have to be something they consider including in their training program.
As we've suggested before, training programs are a dime a dozen, finding the program that works for you individually, however, often proves to be a challenge. The key to figuring out how your own body is going to react to a bulking up program is going to be one of trial and error. We've tried to compile some of the best techniques here in one place for your convenience but it's important to remember not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Read and try the tips we've assembled but also take the time to do a little research on your own. You may just find that the perfect program for you is actually a combination of five or six other programs.
First of all, there are basically two things that are essential requirements of any bulking up program.
- A solid strength or lifting program.
- A high energy diet.
There honestly isn't a quick fix to adding additional weight. The thing to remember is that if your body is not getting the energy it needs it will not be able to recreate the muscle you're after. When beginning any type of training program, it's essential to have a plan and a log. In this case, an excellent place to start is by recording your current measurements. Using a tape measure accurately record the starting size of your shoulders, waist, biceps, chest and quads as well as any other body parts. Before pictures can be a great motivator and ongoing weekly pictures will help you "see" your progress. A log or journal is important for keeping track of your workouts and increasing body size. When making the decision to begin a bulking up program, remember that you are going to have to focus on your whole body to ensure that growth hormones are released systematically to enhance all areas of muscle development.
Once you've attained your desired weight, you can go back and work individual muscles independently. Once you've taken your pictures and gotten your measurements recorded, it's time to determine your actual goals for the program itself. One of the most frustrating things that lifters run into during a bulking up program is their inability to focus on muscle definition. It is, however, impossible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. When deciding what your personal goals are going to be for this program, be realistic. A weight gain of 1 pound a week is attainable. Ten pounds a week isn't. Take the time to write down your goals and review them on a regular basis.
When embarking on a bulking up program, the three things that you need to be most concerned with are going to be:
- Your Diet
- Your Exercise Routine
- Your Supplements
How to figure out what you need to eat.
The first step is determining the diet you're going to follow needs to start with knowing your body type and basal calorie burn. To bulk up muscle experts recommend at least 18 calories and 1.5 -2 grams of fat per pound of lean body weight. The recommended balance is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. Some people struggle with the high percentage of protein so if it presents a problem, you can move 10% to the carb count. If your calorie count is 2500 for example, 40% of 2500 =1000 calories of protein.
A good chart to use is:
1 gram of protein
1 gram of carbohydrates
1 gram of fat
Consequently, if you need 1000 calories of protein and 4 calories =1 gram, 1000 divided by 4 = 250 grams of protein. Complete the equation for each to arrive at the makeup of your diet.
A few other important diet tips:
- Carbohydrates should be complex rather than simple sugars. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole wheat bread are good examples.
- Avoid saturated fats and concentrate on fish, natural peanut butter and olive oil.
- Drinking at least a gallon of water a day is also essential.
- Once you determine you targeted daily caloric intake, it's vital that you actually take the time to plan your meals. In many cases, the amount of food you can actually consume will seem enormous, however, as you continue with your training it will eventually seem more manageable. If you can afford it, it's strongly suggested that hire a catering company to provide your meals on a daily basis. It's much less time consuming than trying to count the calories yourself, make sure you get what you need and prepare the meals.
- Divide the required calories into at least 6 meals per day.
It's important to take the time to track your diet and eating habits. Using a caterer would simplify this process tremendously. Another potential resource that makes this process a breeze is available at www.dietpower.com.
Your Exercise Routine
The second most important part of your bulking up program is your exercise routine. According to the experts, it's vital that you intensely train each group of muscles at least once per week while keeping the gym time under one hour per day. Don't make the mistake of attempting a cardiovascular workout within 8 hours of lifting. Keep a little variety in your workout to keep your body from adapting. You can vary your routine by changing
- the order you perform your exercises
- the types of exercise you're doing
- the number of sets and/or repetitions
While there are numerous ways to set up your training schedule, here's one example to help you get started. You may want to substitute a day off for a cardio/ab workout.
Day 1: Cardio/Abs
Day 2: Shoulders/Traps
Day 3: Cardio or Abs
Day 4: Back/Biceps/Forearms
Day 5: Cardio or Abs
Day 6: Legs/Calves
Day 7: Chest/Triceps
Again, this is just one possible program to utilize if you're considering the need to "bulk up." Give it a try. If you don't get the results you want, keep the parts you like, throw out the rest and try another one. Your results are only limited by your unwillingness to be flexible.