When it comes to building muscle, the traditional bulking method of eating as many calories as possible and training every day has always been the preferred method for most people. What if I told you that you didn’t have to get fat to get big.
A bulk or ‘growth period’ should be done in waves, switching between a caloric surplus trying to push body weight up and 6-8 week mini cuts aimed towards getting leaner to regain important insulin sensitivity.
Don’t get me wrong, you are going to need to get a little fluffy in order to put on as much mass as possible but there is a limit.
When pushing calories higher in order to increase your body weight, you need to be just as precise with your decision making as you would be with a cut. Meaning, only making dietary changes when a plateau is reached. If your body weight is still going up steadily on the current intake then there should be no need to add any more food until this increase begins to slow down.
When breaking down your macros, Protein and Fat should stay pretty well consistent throughout the entire process. There is a limit to how much protein your body can synthesise at a time (20-35g every 2 hours) so going over this will just be wasted calories and unnecessary fat gain. Same goes for your fats, your body does need some fats to help maintain overall function and health, however, having too much will again be wasted calories. Your Carbohydrates should be the one macro that is manipulated for higher or lower total caloric intake. The goal is to have glycogen stores full as much as possible to fuel the repair of muscle fibres after training. In addition, higher carbs will result in spiking insulin more often, and with insulin being the most anabolic hormone your body can produce, gains will follow.
Training during a bulk or growth phase should be the opposite to what you may think. During this time, your training should only consist of one or two working sets for each exercise in order to keep the volume as low as possible. Although volume may be low, you should be following a progressive overload method, looking to get stronger and execute movements better on a regular basis.
The key to growing muscle is by lifting heavy weights in the most controlled manner possible. This will cause micro-tearing of fibres within the muscle which is what these high calories are repairing each day.
Going into the gym to get a pump is not going to create gains year after year, it may get nutrients into your muscles but there is no need for these nutrients if there is nothing to repair.
There are countless supplements and ingredients you could be taking during this growth period to help get a little extra help with recovery, hormone balance, caloric intake etc. We're just going to focus on three essentials.
Pushing calories high is tough, and protein-rich foods are extremely filling. If you find you are lacking with your appetite and are unable to eat all of your food every day, putting in a protein supplement to help spike protein synthesis every 2-3 hours could be a wise idea.
A Whey Protein Isolate, like Redcon1 Isotope, in this case, is going to be very helpful. With a fast digestion rate and 25g of protein, it is going to help you hit your protein numbers and not fill you up so you won't miss your next meal.
With an outstanding amount of research and anecdotal evidence, creatine is one of the best supplements to include for increased muscle power and cellular hydration. Meaning bigger weights are being lifted causing more stress on the muscle and extra nutrients are able to get in helping with recovery and bigger pumps.
Hybrid Nutrition’s Creatine HCL is a very potent form of creatine that is also good for those that get any bloating or gastric distress from creatine monohydrate.
When you begin to push calories higher and higher, your digestion can be put under a lot of stress. If you're not digestion all of your food properly then the nutrients won't make it to the muscle in order to repair the broken down tissue in order for growth.
On top of the digestion problem, getting a sufficient amount of micro-nutrients is tough when the macros are so high. Enter Redcon1’s GI Juice.
GI Juice is a Greens formula and digestive aid wrapped into one, using this every day will help you to utilise all of your food and maintain a healthy nutrient profile.
In all, growing can be put down to simply, eating a lot of food, lifting heavy weights with maximum intensity and keeping your body functioning well with recovery and digestion. Body fat will always need to go up a little in order to put on size but the real secret is in knowing when you are getting a little too fluffy and need to do a mini cut to restore muscle building potential.