Now that volleyball season has ended, it’s time for me to do a true reverse diet/bulk. One where I am accurately tracking what I eat, weighing myself (and keeping track of progress), pushing myself in the gym…and then adjusting the numbers from there. I understand that in a society that praises leanness and always “dieting down”, or even in the fitness-industry when you see lots of people shredded from cutting, it can be difficult to embrace the bulk. Maybe not so hard to embrace the extra eating or feeling stronger in the gym, but hard to embrace the weight gain, the inevitable fat gain, the feeling of being, well, not so lean all the time. Don’t get me wrong there is definitely a way to do a lean bulk, but no matter what bulking involved putting on mass/weight. And that’s okay! If you want progress, if you want strength, and results, then bulking is a necessary–you can’t always be in a deficit and expect results that only come from a surplus.
That being said, there are times when it gets difficult. Surprisingly enough, it’s not always fun to be eating 2700+ calories, or easy to not compare your body to those around you, or to be in a mentally tough spot to continue bulking. I mean, hey, if it was easy everybody would do it. But during this time there is room for tremendous growth–and I’m not just talking physical. With all of this, I thought I would share with you my top 3 tips for bulking. I don’t have all the answers, I’m still learning as I go (and grow), but these are at least things that I have found that help me through this process/journey.
1. still eat healthy
Probably not the first thing you wanted to see, huh? But I’m bulking, so I can eat junk and fast-food every meal and still be okay, right? And while yes the purpose of a surplus is just to be eating more than you are burning, regardless of how the calories are achieved…BUT (and this is a big but lol) your body will thank you so much more for eating healthy a majority of the time. Still getting your micros in, still have most of your meals be consisted of lean meats, complex carbs, and healthy sources of fat. Why? Well 1) this will help you “lean bulk”, 2) you will have more well-rounded food groups, especially if you count macros, and 3) Your body will feel much better energy and health wise as well as just an overall feeling and functioning better. However, do make sure that you still enjoy the healthy foods you choose, don’t force yourself to eat something you hate just because #health.
2. find balance
Now, while yes the majority should come from healthy foods, there is still room for fun, enjoyable foods. The key is to find your balance and find what works for you. Some people do better on almost entirely healthier, less-processed foods, while some can incorporate more fun foods–find what works for you, your body, your life, your goals, etc. But no matter what, make sure that you do not restrict yourself entirely to health foods, especially during a bulk. You have extra calories, extra macros (usually carbs and fats) so take advantage of this time and enjoy the food you are eating! Be spontaneous and say yes to going out to eat or getting some dessert–you have the room to do so. Trust me, if you completely restrict yourself of foods you want and enjoy, you’re going to be miserable during your bulk. My top tip here is to find the foods you enjoy and stick to those while bulking–a well-balanced mix of foods.
3. Push yourself in the gym
Lastly, while it can be hard to eat a lot of food or see your body changing, use this time to create new thoughts/feelings of strength and power in the gym. Put all that food to use by pushing yourself in the gym, in weight, in reps, in exercises, etc. Food is fuel here and the whole point of eating in a surplus is to have food to fuel your workouts and help your muscles recover from being under intense stress during your workouts. The feeling of building muscle, of getting stronger–both physically and mentally–is so worth it, so use that fuel to push yourself in the gym. However, make sure you take days off and time to rest/recover! Don’t push yourself hard 7 days in the gym or your body will never be able to recover properly, leading to no gains being made. Fuel, push, recover. Repeat.
So those are my top tips for bulking, if you have any others I would love to hear them below!