How to Bulk: Expert Fitness Tips

Bulking, a term commonly used in the fitness industry, is deeply embedded in bodybuilding. It’s a process in which individuals intentionally consume more calories than the body requires in combination with intense weight training. This can happen within 4-6 months as bodybuilders boost the growth of their muscle size and strength. But what exactly is the science behind bulking? Read on to find out.


The Science Behind Bulking 

Effective Bulking Strategies

Be consistent with your meal plan

Nutritional Guidelines for Bulking

The Role of Supplements in the Bulking Process

  1. Design a Bulking Workout Routine
  2. Track and Evaluate the Progress

Post-Bulking Strategies 


Frequently Asked Questions

The Science Behind Bulking 

Bulking simply means gaining weight by intentionally overeating. You must have heard people saying, “It’s time to bulk up.” What they mean is they’re gaining weight with the hopes of eventually building their muscles. In short, the bulking is done to add more muscle to the body, which helps to boost the aesthetic appeal.

Consuming more food than your body can burn means eating a surplus of calories. But you can’t simply consume excess calories and expect to look like Hercules three months later. That’s why bodybuilders include a lot of training in the gym. Some use a lot of bodyweight training to ensure that the weight gained is muscle rather than fat.

Getting into the numbers, bodybuilders consume an average of 3200 calories per day for women, while men consume 3,800 calories daily. These numbers are a clear indication of what it takes to build those muscles.

This is a notable increase from the 2,400 calories consumed by men and 1,200 calories consumed by women during the cutting phase. The question, however, is, how does one strategize the calorie intake to ensure effective bulking?

Muscle building requires a caloric surplus. The body needs to consume more calories than it burns per day. When in a caloric surplus, the body enters an anabolic state, which primes it for muscle growth. The excess calories provide the building blocks of protein and energy, which serves to increase muscle mass. 

A caloric deficit, on the other hand, places the body in a catabolic state, breaking down muscle tissue for energy. Being in a prolonged deficit prevents muscle growth. Therefore, the intentional caloric surplus from bulking increases the chances of muscle growth.

But remember that the surplus should not be excessive; consuming many calories can lead to unwanted fat gain instead of muscle mass.

Effective Bulking Strategies

Although understanding the science behind bulking is important, you must also understand the required strategies, as that’s where the real challenge lies.  Remember, it’s not just about eating a lot of calories. It’s also about having the right kind of calories.

Increasing your calorie intake and integrating that with a good exercise regimen is important if you’re bulking. This can be a challenge, especially if you have a busy schedule, as you won’t have the time to eat enough.

You may even be tempted to settle for any source of extra calories or supplements in an effort to add muscle. You must, however, note it isn’t a healthy strategy, and there are other things you can do to achieve better military fitness.

Experts recommend consuming 10%-20% above your daily maintenance calorie needs during the bulking phase. This will result in an average weight gain of between 0.25%-0.5 % of your body weight weekly. Choosing the right foods will help you meet your nutrient needs and reach the optimal performance level. Below are the tips to help you reach your weight gain goals: 

  • Be consistent with your meal plan.
  • Eat at least 3 balanced meals and 2 healthy snacks daily to increase your calorie, protein, and nutrient intake.
  • Choose nutrient and calorie-rich foods like potatoes, beans, lentils, brown or wild rice, granola, whole grain bagels, cold-water fish, cheese, seeds, avocadoes, bananas, mangoes, and dried fruits.
  • Be strategic with your protein intake.  Note that everyone’s need for protein is a little different. However you can aim for 20 grams of proteins every few hours, but if you train hard, include a protein-rich bedtime snack to support muscle growth overnight.
  • Be realistic and patient because it can take months to start noticing the results of your weight gain journey. You can also visit a registered dietician to help you develop an individualized fueling plan.

Nutritional Guidelines for Bulking

Many people are looking to get on board the bulking trend and understand how much time is required to achieve the results. But you must also note that nutrition plays an important part in the bulking process. It helps to keep your body in a positive caloric balance as it enters an anabolic growth state.

Keep in mind that a good diet must be well-balanced, with 30%–35% of the calories coming from protein, 45%–60% from carbohydrates, and 15%–30% from fat. 

Proteins are important when it comes to muscle growth and repair. That’s why you’re required to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily when bulking. These proteins should come from sources like poultry, fish, eggs, and lean red meat. As for carbohydrates, they serve to fuel your workouts, as dietary fats help in the production of hormones.

The Role of Supplements in the Bulking Process

There’s no doubt that a balanced diet is the cornerstone of bulking. Supplements are also important, and they add an extra edge if you’re looking to maximize your gains. 

Protein supplements like the casein protein powder make it easier to meet your daily protein intake. Creatine supplements are also important as they give your muscles the energy to push harder during workouts. 

Other essential supplements when bulking include branched-chain amino acids, beta-alanine, and caffeine. But how can these kinds of supplements be integrated into a workout routine? Find out below:

  1. Design a Bulking Workout Routine

When bulking, remember that you’ll need to take in excess calories than your body needs integrated by intense weight training. The workout is composed of lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses that activate multiple muscle groups.

A reduction or elimination of long cardio sessions helps to prevent burning excessive calories. But, like any other journey, you’ll have to track your progress to ensure you’re on the right path.

  1. Track and Evaluate the Progress

Monitoring and evaluating your progress is key in ensuring you’re continuously on the right path. Monitoring, for instance, helps to ensure that bulking falls within the range of 0.25–0.5% of body weight per week for optimal results. It’s also important that you measure your weight and body fat percentage weekly.

If you notice that the scale isn’t moving as expected, adjust your calorie intake and training accordingly. Patience is also important because muscle takes time to build. 

What happens after achieving your desired muscle growth? Find out next.

Post-Bulking Strategies 

Bulking, just like other phases, comes to an end at some point. It’s important to note that the next step afterward is equally important.

After bulking up and building muscle size, it’s time to transition into the cutting phase. This is where bodybuilders gradually decrease their calorie intake and increase aerobic training. The process helps to shed the excess body fat that was accumulated during the bulking phase, hence maintaining the new muscle mass and leaning out quickly.

Bodybuilders are required to gradually reduce calories, keep their protein high, and add in targeted cardio to burn fat without losing muscle gain. Some people integrate strategies like intermittent fasting, while others take a break and simply eat maintenance calories before deciding on the next move.

Note that there are two main goals during a cut, and they are muscle growth (hypertrophy) and fat loss. During muscle building, the body always needs something to build off, and this is a caloric surplus. If you’re maximizing muscle growth, you’re required to take in more calories to ensure that you have the extra energy that will go towards muscle repair and growth.

Remember that fat gain is inevitable during a bulk. However, it requires a caloric deficit to burn more than you consume. Bodybuilders go through a cutting cycle. It’s during this phase that training increases and food intake decreases. This helps shed off the layer of fat developed over the muscle tissue.


There’s more to bulking than consuming extra calories whenever you want. For effective bulking, you must get it right with the basics. 

Follow the guidelines in this article, and be patient while at it to see the benefits that bulking will bring you. Note that there’s more to gain from bulking than just the muscle mass. So train, eat as required, get enough rest and sleep, then repeat the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bulking suitable for everyone?

Bulking isn’t for everyone. The workout routine, nutrition, and lifestyle require diligence. Beginners, for instance, should master foundational habits first. Those with a history of disordered eating must consult a professional before bulking, and when done sensibly, bulking can be safe for most healthy adults.

How long should a bulking phase last?

An appropriate bulking phase lasts 12-16 weeks. Keep in mind that rapid muscle growth happens during the first 6-12. After this period, muscle gains slow down as the body adapts to the progress. Extending the bulking phase beyond 16 weeks increases fat gain without much additional muscle growth.

Can you build muscles without a caloric surplus?

That’s possible, especially for new lifters. If you’re a beginner, you can gain some muscle in a calorie deficit or at maintenance by training consistently and consuming enough protein. However, once the initial gains stabilize, a surplus becomes necessary for continued growth. The rate of muscle building becomes slower compared to bulking.

You May Also Like