Gain Muscle The Right Way: How To Clean Bulk
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When most people think about getting huge, they might picture guys doing curls and then a jump cut to a plate of pasta. It’s easy, right? Just lift heavy objects and stuff a lot of food into your body. Obviously, bulking up is not that simple. Figuring out how to clean bulk correctly will help you train smarter, get big faster, and be a lot happier along the way.
There are four basic components to clean bulking that we’re going to go over in this post:
- What you’re eating
- What you’re lifting
- How to have a complete bulking lifestyle
- Paying attention to your body
Eat More, But Not That Much More
When you’re learning how to clean bulk, you might think that you just pile food into your body like a garbage disposal. But no, the phrase “clean bulk” is not a green light to eat whatever you want to, whenever you want to eat it. Truthfully, you’re only going to need to increase your calorie intake by about 10-20% of what it is now.
To put that increase in perspective, if you are eating around 2000 calories a day and you increase it by 15% you’re eating 2,300 calories a day. One apple eaten with two tablespoons of peanut butter are going to provide the whole extra 300 calories to get you to the target.
So while clean bulking is not a dieting plan that opens the floodgates of hamburgers and sweet treats, it does mean that you’ll have to be a bit more intentional with the foods that you’re eating. Keep in mind that if you’re not used to counting calories, you may want to spend a week just noticing what you’re eating. Many of us have no real idea of the average number of calories that we eat in a day.
Eat Protein, Fat, Carbs
Protein is going to be really important for bulking, although not quite as important as if you were cutting. You’ll need to take in about 75-85% of your pounds as grams of protein. Basically, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be trying to get 80% of that in grams of protein. Four-fifths of 150 pounds is 120, so you should be aiming for 120 grams of protein. Need to get more protein into your diet? Check out some protein recipe inspiration.
Other calories should come from fat and carbs. Fat should be around 20% of the calories that you’re taking in. It helps your body find normal functioning. After the fat, you can fill in the gaps with more carbs.
Focus on Nutrient Dense Foods
The process of clean bulking should be a great opportunity for you to improve your diet as well. Keep in mind that clean bulking is not a “let them eat cake” opportunity. Your body can’t just turn any old yellow sponge into the muscles and body structure that you’re looking for. You need the right kind of foods to produce the right kind of structure.
Part of what you’ll need is nutrient dense foods. If you don’t love the taste of raw kale or spinach–most of us don’t–then you can get a blender and smash them around with some tasty berries and citrus. Making sure that your body gets a full spread of vitamins and minerals will help you recover and ensure that you can bulk up. Think of eating diverse foods like providing a full spectrum of building materials to a construction crew. By sending down all kinds of different, healthy foods, you’ll give your body’s construction crew a lot to work with.
You could think of fast food as kind of a bad supplement. It contains a ton of processed food and plenty of food-adjacent stuff that your body won’t really know what to do with.
On the other hand, using strength or wellness products can really give your body the extra boost that you need to train correctly. By taking the right supplements, you can give your body the extra push to bulk properly.
Plus, readers can follow those links and use code CODY15 for 15% off all products and free shipping in the United States.
Yes, you’re not going to make much progress in adding weight and muscle to your body without hitting the gym. Now, it’s important that you get some quality strength training exercises around 3-5 times a week. People think that it is important to life every day, but rest days are actually when a lot of the muscle mass begins to grow. You have to give your body time to recover and build itself back up bigger than before.
Additionally, you’ll want to have different days for different muscle groups. Yep, “leg day” isn’t just a bro term that you don’t have to pay attention to. Breaking down different groups and allowing them to rest on different days is really helpful for bulking up.
Bulking up is not about putting the heaviest weights on the bar, pumping it once, and then hitting the showers. Bulking takes high-intensity training to make sure that your body undergoes the kind of stress and breakdown that will facilitate bigger muscles.
Don’t Ignore Cardio
Because you’ll be eating slightly more, you should also focus on picking up a bit more cardio. You don’t need to run wild, but even getting a couple miles on the treadmill each week will get your heart rate up and keep your system circulating.
When you’re figuring out how to clean bulk, you should pay attention to every aspect of your lifestyle. Don’t sacrifice sleep or self-care to get your body bulked, or else your body might fight against your best attempts.
Sleep is the way that our body rests and recovers. Your body repairs muscles, turns of the fight or flight, and releases the highest levels of growth hormone. If you don’t get enough sleep then you won’t really be able to bulk your best.
Despite what every single sports movie and athletic brand commercial would have you believe, you don’t have to wake up at 4:30am to get in shape. If you naturally go to sleep at 9:30pm and have already gotten 7 hours of sleep by 4:30am, then sure, you might consider setting that alarm before the crack of dawn.
But most of us don’t go to sleep at 9:30pm. Your body can bulk up in the daylight just as well as it can bulk up in the morning. Pay attention to what you need, and don’t get tricked by marketing that plays into your conceptions of what hard work means. Hard work means having the discipline to get enough sleep so that the gym even matters in the first place.
When done correctly, clean bulking won’t make you miserable. Sure, you might have some tough days in the gym. You might get sore. But you won’t be miserable. Pay attention to what your body needs and find ways to rest and enjoy yourself.
The gym doesn’t have to be all work and no play! Listen to music or podcasts that you love, and definitely make time to binge a couple tv show episodes while you’re on the bike or the treadmill.
Pay Attention to Your Body
When you first start learning how to clean bulk, you’ll probably gain a bit of weight somewhat rapidly. This is your body increasing the amount of water and glycogen that it stores. So be ready for an initial bump in weight. Do not try to hold onto that gain rate as your body begins to adjust to your new training plan. You should be gaining anywhere from a half pound to, at most, a pound and a half per week. The sweet spot would be one pound.
If you’re gaining a little bit too much or not quite enough, try increasing our decreasing your calorie count by a little bit.
Don’t Overthink It
While many people are tempted to just set the metrics and put their heads down, there are other types of people that are going to obsess over how training is going. You won’t be able to effectively assess a training program or figure out how your body is reacting to specific changes if you’re constantly measuring it! If you find yourself overthinking the program, just give yourself some time. You won’t clean bulk overnight, and you won’t solve your workout and calorie regiment overnight either. One method that I have used to get into a caloric surplus is by calorie cycling to start.
Find Your Exit Ramp
Clean bulking is just what it sounds like–bulking. You’re actively increasing the mass of your body. This is definitely not something that you want to do indefinitely. You should have some idea of your target weight or the target muscle that you’re looking to achieve. For most people, when your abdominal muscles start to disappear, you’re ready to move onto more basic training.
Try Some Health and Strength Supplements
If your routine isn’t working for you, you might want to consider adding some strength or wellness products to give you an extra edge. Readers can follow those links and use code CODY15 for 15% off all products and free shipping in the United States. Happy clean bulking!
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