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Bulking up is a bodybuilding term used to describe the acquisition of as much size which usually includes both fat and muscle. Bulking up as fast as humanly possible through too much eating and ultra-heavy training is all predicated upon the belief that gaining weight will make you stronger.
It means gaining weight in whichever form will better help the bodybuilder to 1) lift heavier through the increased leverage and the force generation it is thought to provide and 2) provide a more significant range of movement and surplus of nutrients to enable muscle growth along with fat deposition, the latter of which can later be "stripped off" when the time for getting in shape starts to arrive.
It is hypothetically possible that a substantial off-season weight gain will help provide some additional muscle mass, looking at the past experience it has shown that for many bodybuilders are less likely to deny themselves valuable nutrients at this time. Bulking up can be effective but is certainly NOT the ideal way to gain muscle and it is definitely not the healthiest.
On the other hand if you are able to stay ripped which can look most impressive, especially under contest lights on the competitive stage it can be detrimental health-wise over the long term as the body always requires sufficient calories and body fat to function optimally on many different levels.
For effective off season nutrition there are a few basic rules that one needs to be follow and the first of these is to always Avoid Self-Deprivation.
The key to gaining muscle while maintaining respectable conditioning is to make sure that you consume a wide range of high quality calories consisting of foods such as lean, wholesome, low saturated fat protein sources (including chicken, beef, fish and eggs), as well as complex and fibrous carbohydrates for satiety value and valuable micronutrients (including brown rice, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach and salads) and essential fats (including oily fish, and nuts and seeds).
Maintaining a diet composed of around 2000-2500 calories from high quality whole foods (for a 170 to 185 pound person with 10-15 percent body fat) will give your body what it needs to grow muscle while dealing with the hunger usually associated with restrictive pre-contest dieting.
Eating this way all year round will also be able to provide all the training energy one might need while allowing for steady gains in muscle. When diets become too limited we tend to seek out the wrong foods like fatty, simple carbohydrate and refined sugar dense junk foods. Under the misguided assumption that such food will enhance our training success. It is, after all, these foods that people have traditionally used to bulk up in the off-season.
It is important to always Add Calories Slowly when you are aiming to gain size in the off-season it is best to gradually add additional calories in the form of complex carbohydrates. This is assuming protein is maintained at 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, as it should be for maximal muscle gains, rather than simply automatically bumping up the intake to an amount to which the body is not accustomed.
Always closely monitor your body fat levels so you can ensure they remain within the 10 percent bracket for men, 15 for females. As the body adapts to a certain caloric range you should add 100 more calories per day until muscle building resumes.
Staggering calories and reducing the daily total by 20 percent one day and increasing it by 20 percent the next day is also another way to ensure progress remains consistent. When you do this you will be able to confuse the metabolic rate into re-adjusting itself and as a result burn fat faster and using calories for muscle gaining more efficiently. This kind of thing should be done around once every two to three months for one week before resuming with your usual caloric intake.
You also need to make sure that you Avoid Excessive Cardio when doing your workouts. You do this by eating excessively in the off-season many people who are trying to lose fat seemed overdo cardio training in the belief that doing so will rid them of unwanted fat.
In doing cardio we do burn fat but along with it a degree of muscle mass also. Cardio can be a hit or miss way to get into shape since it is hard to get it 100 percent correct. Too low in intensity and/or duration and we fail to burn much fat. Too high and we risk burning muscle along with the fat.
Better to eat quality foods all year round and weight train with the required mind-numbing intensity to build muscle, rather than just eating incorrectly and relying on cardio for fat loss in the off-season. Always remember to Not Overdo It because overdoing training in general will tax our recovery abilities and stifle your muscle growth.
When adopting a more precise approach to packing on the muscle, as recommended here, it is vitally important to ensure training frequency is kept in check. You are actually growing when you are resting and sleeping.
Since you will be functioning at a lower body fat percentage, and enjoying all of its benefits, you are closer to the extreme conditioning threshold of a low single digit body fat percentage. Since there are less caloric reserves to draw from there may also be a greater risk of overtraining.
As mentioned above reducing cardio is a good first step. But you also need to increase your weight training intensity while reducing training sessions to four per week, training each body part once per week, two to three sets per exercise is another.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that since cardio has been reduced, you will need to elevate weight training frequency to compensate. The old adage that muscle is built outside the gym holds especially true here. Let your quality calories do their job and rest thoroughly before again pounding the iron.
Disclaimer: This information is for entertainment purposes only. We strongly recommend that you consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. MuscleNet.com is not a licensed medical care provider. The reader should understand that participating in any exercise program can result in physical injury and agrees to do so at his own risk. The findings and opinions of authors expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of MuscleNet.com.