Bodybuilding is a far more complex sport/art/hobby than most people realize. Looking in from the outside you could be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a matter of lifting a few extremely heavy weights then eating copious amounts of meat. Little do the outsiders know the amount of science that goes into bodybuilding and how it pays to know what adenosine triphosphate is, or how hypertrophy occurs; and nor could they probably appreciate just how many stages and elements there are in most bodybuilding training programmes.
You see the best training programmes don’t stay the same all year round. Rather they evolve and change with the bodybuilder using them. If you want to get a lot out of bodybuilding then you need to come up with a training programme that has phases and stages and that lets you recover and focus on various body parts.
One of the most popular ways that this is often achieved with with a ‘bulking and cutting cycle’. Here we will look at what bulking and cutting means, whether you should do it, and how to go about adding bulk.
What Are Bulking and Cutting?
Basically as a bodybuilder you have two principles aims and they are to build muscle, while at the same time reducing body fat and revealing your ripped striations for the world to see. If you have lots of muscle but too much fat, then you’ll just look large rather than heroic, while if you have no muscle and no body fat then you’ll look skinny and unwell.
However of course it can be quite hard to gain muscle while not putting on fat. This is because you need to eat a lot of protein in order to build mass, and at the same time you need to eat a lot of carbs in order to give yourself the energy you need to train hard enough. This leads to lots of bulk fast, but the bad news is that it also leads to a lot of unwanted weight gain and you’re likely to find that you end up putting on the kind of bulk that you don’t want.
This is where cutting comes in – once you’ve reached the size you want to you then focus on just stripping away the fat and the body fat percentage to reveal the cuts and the definition in that muscle. You lose fat faster than you lose muscle, so by not eating a lot and doing lots of cardio you can strip away the excess fat to reveal the muscle you’ve gained before you start losing any muscle mass. A professional bodybuilder will then time this so that he has completely lost his body fat just in time for competition meaning he looks ripped and bulky. There are other ways to gain lean muscle and keep definition, but bulking and cutting is arguably the easiest and ergo the most popular.
Here we are going to look at just bulking and how to achieve that stage. There are several things you can do to start indiscriminately putting on weight. These are:
Eating a Lot
That means mostly protein, but really eating whatever you can get your hands on to make sure your body has lots of energy and lots of amino acids. Eat tonnes of meat and don’t worry too much if it also contains carbs.
Using Weight Gainers
Weight gainers are shakes that act like protein shakes but also include carbs. This is an easy way to give yourself lots of calories for building muscle and hitting the gym and to add to what you would get just from your diet. Use a weight gainer at least two or three times a day and you can guarantee to start to see gains being made.
The idea here is gaining strength and size – not gaining definition and cuts – and this impacts on the way you need to be training. To build size essentially you want to be lifting as heavy a weight as you can, and doing it for just a few repetitions – rather than doing lots of repetitions of a light weight. Make sure you always go past the point of failure by At the same time you’re aiming to keep mixing it up by trying different things, and to really hit each muscle group with lots of exercises to stimulate growth. This means using a ‘split routine’ that focuses on a different body part each day.
You should also try to include compound movements into your workout. These are the movements that don’t isolate a single muscle group, but rather force you to work all of them in unison. The ‘big three’ compound movements are ‘bench press’, ‘deadlift’ and ‘squat’ – so try and include these in your routine.
Bulking means working hard and resting hard, and actually it’s the more pleasant stage compared to cutting as it allows you to eat a lot and then lie around. You want to be using brief bursts of intense training, and then resting and getting lots of sleep. This is because your resting periods are when the body will start to repair the damage you’ve done to your muscle fibers ensuring they grow back thicker and thus increase the size of your muscles.
This is why a split shift works the way it does – you spend individual days really working on a particular muscle, but then focus on a different muscle subsequently thereby giving the first muscle group a chance to ‘grow back’ and recover. Make sure that you also get a lot of sleep and don’t do too much CV the rest of the time.
Increasing your production of anabolic hormones is highly useful for whether you are bulking or cutting helping you to build tissue and burn reserves. There are various ways you can increase your growth hormone – for instance using squats and other compound movements – or taking hot showers. Likewise you should eat red meats, and also try using pro-hormones that increase your testosterone levels such as tribulis terrestris.