What guy goes to the gym day in and day out and doesn’t want
to bulk up? The technical term for
bulking up is muscle hypertrophy. Muscle
hypertrophy is when your muscles cells get thicker. The best way to cause muscle hypertrophy is to
put pressure on your muscles with extra weight so that they grow.
Well, I keep lifting heavy weights but I don’t think Im
getting bigger, what’s the deal? There
are many other factors that come into play with muscle hypertrophy besides just
lifting heavy weights, and we have laid them out with the most common mistakes
What are you eating to bulk up?
When it comes to your diet, it can sometimes
be difficult to force yourself to eat more, but I recommend trying to eat an extra
300-500 calories a day to bulk up. You can do this by adding a little more food
to each of your regular meals, or snacking more often. Eat higher calorie food
and add more complex carbohydrates to your diet; such as grains and beans. The
complex carbohydrates will assist by giving you more energy for your more
intense workouts. Brown rice, whole
wheat, and oats contain great sources of complex carbohydrates.
High quality protein, which the body breaks down into amino acids, should be
the center point of all your meals. Intense exercise increases demand for amino
acids, which support muscle repair and growth. When you train to bulk up, make sure you’re getting between 1 and 1.5 times your body weight (if you
are overweight, then substitute your target body weight) in grams of protein.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating between 150 and 225
grams of protein per day if you want to consistently gain muscle.
Mistake 1- Eating too much: If
you consume too much food, those extra calories will be stored as fat and make
well balanced proportions so you are able to do your workouts with a lot more
energy. I have often heard that the best
food to eat when attempting to bulk up is a lot of meat. False! The best way to get your protein
source is an egg.
The whole eggs have all the
nutrients and amino acids you need to achieve greater muscle mass. You are
better off eating two to three whole eggs with six egg whites to have better
protein gains. This will give you the
energy you will need to keep pushing in the weight room.
Bulking up Meal Plan example:
Meal 1: 3 eggs (two of them white only)
Meal 2: 6 oz. can of Tuna
Meal 3: 1 scoop protein shake and 2 rice cakes
Meal 4: 1000 mg of Flaxseed oil
Meal 5: 6 oz. Steak and salad
Protein shake low fat, low carb, with at
least 23grams of protein per scoop, sugars low like three grams or lower. GNC have
samples so takes some home before you buy one, because there are some really
gross kinds of protein shakes. It should be whey protein.
Mistake 2 – Not
drinking enough water: If you want a simple, easy and highly effective way to
maximize your muscle gains, drinking more water is it. Water plays so many
vital roles in the body and its importance cannot be overstated. In fact, your
muscles alone are made up of 70-75% water!
Not only will drinking more water cause your muscles to appear fuller and more
vascular, but it will also increase your strength as well. Research has shown
that merely a 3-4% drop in your body’s water levels can impact muscle
contractions by 10-20%!
Aim to consume 0.6 ounces for every pound of bodyweight each day for optimal
How do you lift to
Your body grows due to additional pressure put on it, so you
have to increase the weight that you lift in the gym. Do not and I repeat do not increase the
weight to the point where you sacrifice your form in the exercise. That is a mistake a lot of weight lifters
make and all that does is cause an injury and slow your progress down in the
gym. If however you put large enough
demands on your body to grow (with proper form), it will trigger an adaptive response which will force your
body to gain weight.
This can be accomplished by training for strength first and reducing the
amount of reps you do to 4-6.
Mistake 3 – Too much cardio: Decrease
your cardio! You cannot play three hours
of pick up basketball or run five miles a day and expect to gain muscle
mass. Cardio burns off calories, and if
you burn off more calories than you consume, don’t expect to gain any muscle
mass or weight.
Free weights are your weight of choice when attempting to
bulk up. In my gym I would see this very skinny guy doing his bench press,
incline press and every other power lift you can think of on a smith machine,
he said he did this because he didn’t have a spot. Let me state this very
clearly: the smith machine is not a machine to be used for gaining muscle mass.
These machines are very stationary, and only promote movement of your body
parts one way only. They also do not place the joints in the proper place
either. Only proper form makes you use the muscles at the right areas, not the
machines. More then 90% of all machines do not make you use your stabilizer
muscles and that’s very important in order to start improving on your muscle
What type of lifts should I do in the gym? Free
weighted exercises like Squats, Dead Lifts, Bench Presses, and Push Presses are
exercises you would really want to get accustomed to first so that way you will
not have such a hard time learning proper form and gaining muscle mass in the
Bulking up weight
lifting routine example
Bench Press – 3 sets 4-6 reps
Flys – 3 sets 4-6 reps
Wide Grip Pull-downs – 3 sets 4-8 reps
One Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 sets 4-8 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets 4-6 reps
Lateral Raise – 3 sets 4-6 reps
Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets 4-6 reps
Dips – 3 sets 4-6 reps
Overhead Triceps extension – 4 sets 4-6 reps
4 - Not stretching enough: Another way surprisingly to
increase muscle mass is to stretch regularly, this means before, after, and
during every workout. If you do this,
you will actually increase your flexibility and give your muscles more room to
contract and add mass. If you lift
weights and lose flexibility it is only because you do not take stretching
5 – Not sleeping enough: After you
spend an hour working your muscles out at the gym and Water glistening all over
yo body! (real Martin Lawrence fans get that) you should also be aware that
your body needs substantial “recovery time” from the workout. This
“recovery time” is approximately 8 hours of sleep each night and that
is each and every night not 10 hours tonight and six tomorrow, because that
does not work. Your body needs adequate sleep every night, because rest cannot
be stored and saved for later, it is something you must engage in every night.
In conclusion, if you really want to bulk up and get some
really big muscle you have to eat more meals, do less cardiovascular
activities, lift heavy weights, and get a good night’s sleep. Bulking up is not something that you can do
over night or in a week, so take your time, and monitor your progress.
Siddiqu Muhammad is an
ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer and a NFPT
(National Federation of Personal Trainer) certified personal trainer and a
Division 1 Athletic Strength and Conditioning coach. To view more of
Chicago Fit 4 Lifes training philosophy visit www.cf4life.com