With colder weather here, we’re officially in bulking season. You can increase the weight that you lift and spend hours at the gym, but you won’t achieve the results you want unless you put in work outside the gym, too.
Strength training is the foundation of bulking, but in order to make sure that you’re gaining more muscle than fat, you need to make sure that your habits out of the gym are maximizing your efforts in the gym. We’re going to go over some of the best ways to bulk outside the gym.
Working out is nearly pointless if your diet doesn’t align with the goals that you’re trying to achieve. If you’re bulking, you’re going to want a calorie surplus, meaning you should eat more calories than you burn in a day. If you’re not in a calorie surplus, your body will enter a catabolic state, meaning that it will eat away at your hard-earned muscles to create energy. Each day, two-thirds of your calories should come from carbohydrates, while one-third should come from lean protein.
You should eat more carbs closer to your workout, in order to fuel your strength training. After a workout, eat more protein, as this will keep your body in an anabolic state – when the muscles and tissues get energy for growth and repair. If you find that you’re not getting enough protein from your diet alone, making a protein shake or adding protein powder to your favorite recipes is a great way to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs to build muscle.
Keep in mind: just because you’re bulking, doesn’t mean that you can go totally crazy with your calorie intake. It’s important to eat well and maintain a well-balanced diet. Without this, you’ll end up putting on tons of fat instead of muscle, and all those hours at the gym will be for nothing.
Life is busy – we get it. While it can seem impossible to fit working out and a good night’s sleep into your schedule on top of everything else, it’s crucial for muscle growth and repair. Sleeping creates the ideal anabolic environment for your muscles to regenerate and grow.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body will have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the hormone leptin, which signals to your body that you’re full. This can lead to overeating and fat gain instead of the muscle gain you’re hoping for. At the end of the day, you’re not going to perform well in the gym if you’re tired, so do yourself a favor and catch some Z’s.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re taking days off from the gym. While you might want to put your body into overdrive, this won’t help your muscles grow. As mentioned, your muscles and tissues need time to repair in order to grow, and this can’t happen if you don’t give them a break every once in a while. Listen to your body – if you feel like you need to take a day off from training, do it.
Nutrition is an important aspect of building muscle and maintaining your overall health. But, sometimes it can be hard to get all the nutrients that your body needs in a day. Supplements are a great way to make sure that your body is getting all the essentials. Omega-3 pills and protein powders are quick and easy ways for your body to get the essential fats and proteins that it needs.
Pre-workout and creatine are great supplements to have before and after your workouts. Pre-workout can give you extra energy while you are training. Creatine can help your muscles grow and recover. This is great for those days that you just couldn’t get enough shut eye.
No one’s perfect – sometimes we don’t have enough time to meal prep or get a full 8 hours of sleep. Luckily, these supplements can help make up for it and keep you on track during bulking season.