It is January, we are in the middle of Winter, the time when millions of gym users attention turns to a bulking diet in an attempt to build muscle. The aim being to add plenty of quality muscle mass before attempting to lose any fat accumulated during a bulking diet in time for summer. The ideal result being a bigger, more ripped version of yourself revealing the hard work you put in during the Winter. However the reality is a lot different to this as many fail to make any significant changes to their physique during their bulking diet repeating the cycle and being the same every Year. If you are happy with how your body looks right now then thats fine but if you want to be bigger and are failing to make any real progress maybe you need a change of mindset to fully embrace what bulking is.
Unrealistic Expectations About A Bulking Diet
A bulking diet requires a strong mindset, determination, and dare I say it even courage. Let me explain. Modern day fitness media and advertising leads a lot of inexperienced gym users to have unrealistic expectations of how their idols achieve the big, ripped physiques that they see on the front of magazines. They believe that bodybuilders look like they do on stage all year round even in the middle of a bulking diet and expect to be able to build muscle without a change to how their abs look. There are those people either genetically blessed (I wish) or cutting corners using anabolic steroids who can build muscle without any change but unless this is you then perhaps you need to reevaluate your goals and expectations from your bulking diet. What are you looking to achieve? If it is an all Year round ripped physique maybe your diet needs to reflect this goal, BUT if you want to add significant muscle to your physique naturally then I'm going to give you some hard truths about what to expect and what might be needed in a bulking diet.
This is not going to be a scientific outline of what calories, macros, or training you should be doing when bulking to build muscle, this is about your mentality and expectations if you want to avoid what I call the bulking Diet Paradox: You eat tons of quality calories and train perfectly to add muscle and the weight starts to increase, but as you start to notice your abs become a bit more blurry in the mirror you immediately reduce your calories to a deficit in order to make sure your abs are still there.The result, no muscle gained and a waste of a bulking diet phase. Don't let this be you. If you are serious about making a permanent change to your body I have a question for you which should decide if you really want to get bigger.
Are you willing to spend a couple of months without ripped abs in order to build muscle and with the correct cutting diet routine reveal something to be proud of the time Summer comes around? This is where the determination and courage comes in to a bulking diet, can you handle it? Yes? Great! You shouldn't take yourself so seriously anyway, you probably wasn't as ripped as you thought in the first place, but after a proper bulking and cutting phase you will have a physique to be proud of. Here are some truths and expectations from a bulking diet to keep you sane.
1. You Probably Need To Eat More
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a bulking diet is not eating enough food in order to stimulate muscle growth. This is all very dependant on your body type, your metabolism, your activity level, and the types of workout you are using. The solution to this problem is to weigh yourself regularly and if the weight isn't steadily increasing then eat more quality food as part of your bulking diet! The scales don't lie and if you are checking in regularly with the scales you can't lie to yourself when on a bulking diet if your goal is to build muscle. If in doubt, eat more.
2. You Will Increase Bodyfat
Unless you are a complete beginner to the gym where for a short while your body will be more anabolic than it every will be again (make the most of this time if its you!) then you will most likely gain fat if you bulk correctly. This doesn't mean you should be happy with becoming fat, just accept that in order to maximise your chances of building muscle you might need to sacrifice your diamond cut abs. Every now and then there will be that guy who just puts on muscle for fun and stays extremely lean, but in my experience this is extremely rare and if that was you I doubt you would be reading this article. The solution to this is simple, adjust your mindset and commit to making a lasting change to your body. You will thank yourself when Summer comes around. Oh, and stop lifting your top up in the gym and posing in every mirror in your house, the abs are gone for a while but you are more than a set of abs right?
3. Bulking Requires Commitment
A successful bulking diet is not built on one buffet style meal a day. It requires a consistent and abundant supply of nutrients to the muscles. This means you will probably have to plan ahead and make time to organise your meals when life inevitably gets in the way. Failure to do so will result in less than optimal results, so to prevent missing out on gains you have worked hard in the gym for make sure that there is always healthy calories near by to leave no excuse. Some solutions to this problem is to take some time out of your schedule to prepare meals in advance and freeze them and to carry protein rich snacks with you at all times, it might sound a little bit extreme and obsessive but thats what bulking requires if you want to build muscle.
4. Appetite Could Be Your Enemy
Many of my clients when on their bulking diets simply do not have the appetite to eat enough calories required to help them build muscle. This is often where people give up describing themselves as hard gainers or with a insufficient appetite to get big. Although there is truth in the appetite/hardgainer problem when on a bulking diet, this shouldn't be an excuse. One of the strategies I employ with such cases is to encourage the consumption of liquid calories to SUPPLEMENT the whole food bulking diet, this can make it a little easier to get the calories required to pack on the pounds. Something like this muscle building shake recipe will provide quality calories without having to chew food. Leaving no excuses in the quest to get big.
Make This Bulking Diet Successful
I hope these bulking diet truths serve you well if your goal is to build muscle. Make sure you do not fall in to the bulking diet paradox because that will simply be a waste of your time. Instead spend some time to decide on a goal, implement the correct strategy to achieve that goal, and stay the course regardless of some mild vanity based consequences. I like to think of it like this..NO GUTS, NO GLORY.