If you have been in the fitness scene for a while, you are probably familiar with the terms “Bulking” and “Cutting”.

Maybe You have heard someone say “I’m bulking I can have a cheat meal” or “I have to go on a cut for XY months” and so on.
Or you are a total beginner and don’t know anything about it.

Either way, there is often a lot of confusion around bulking and cutting. That’s why, in today’s blog post,  I will explain what bulking is, how, when and why to do it.

I will only go into bulking because it is winter time and everyone is kinda on a bulk. But, I will write a whole blog post about cutting in the summer, I promise.

Now, let’s get into it!

What is bulking?

In the winter time, when it’s cold outside and we are all wrapped in 10 layers of sweaters, coats, and scarves, no one really cares, if we have a few fat rolls more, haha. That’s exactly why it is such a great time to “go on a bulk”.

Bulking is a cycle when you are eating more calories than you burn, with the intention to build muscle mass.

While bulking you are in a caloric surplus (eating more than you burn) and therefore muscle mass can be built. Part of the reason is that you have more energy during your workouts, due to the caloric surplus. By training hard and eating more than you burn, you will gain muscle mass.

However, you will most definitely gain some fat as well. That’s why it’s still important to eat foods that are high in nutrients and quality. Otherwise, you will gain more fat and not so many muscles. And that’s not what we want, haha.

How to bulk

Now, that we have covered what bulking means, let’s get into the technique.

I believe in the saying: Slow and steady wins the raise.

What I mean by the saying is that you shouldn’t go into a caloric surplus of 500 kcal from one day into the other. Your body has to get used to changes. 

So, start slowly by adding 100 kcal in week 1 & 2, then moving on to 200 kcal in week 3&4 until you have reached your desired calories. For me that’s something around 200-400 kcal, depending on how intense a workout was that day.

Keep in mind to eat as much wholesome and nutrients dense foods as possible.

Most importantly: Eat enough protein! This would be somewhere around 1,6g – 2,2g per kg Bodyweight.

Calculate your BMR and physical activity level

You can calculate your BMR and PAL here.

It will take you to the website I use to calculate mine. Type in your gender, weight, height and activity level and you will get two numbers. 

  1. BMR
  2. Caloric needs (If you type in your activity levels you get the number of calories your body needs to remain the weight it is)

Now take a look at how often you exercise. Fill in the list as above.

So, if you want to gain muscle mass, take your caloric needs and add around 100-300 kcal, depending on the caloric surplus you want to have.

What about cheat meals?

What about cheat meals? That’s really your choice. Personally, I am not a huge fan of “dirty bulking”, because you will gain more fat and not so much muscle mass.

I want to fuel my body the right way so that it’s prepared for all these intense workouts I have.

But, I am not going to lie. I love chocolate and one tiny piece won’t destroy my results. 🙂

Well, there isn’t really more to say about it. Eat more than you burn and train hard.

Why and when you should bulk

We all know the unfortunate truth that the human body isn’t able to build muscle and simultaneously reduce body fat. 🙁

Exceptions are total beginners. They can make very rapid muscle growth while burning fat. Here is a great study from the United States Sports Academy. (the article).

But, that’s only for newbies.

This is the reason why advanced weightlifter, bodybuilder and so on,  often divide their trainings-program into a bulking and cutting season.

I do it too.

In the winter time, I go on a bulk, where I eat more, train intensive workout sessions and focus on strength training. I will gain muscle mass, but also a fair amount of body fat.

Then, when the summer is near and we all want to look good at the beach, I will go on a cut (eating less than I burn) with the intention to burn that extra fat.

Unfortunately, some muscle mass will get lost along the way. But, what will be left is a sexy body with lots of muscles and a low body fat percentage.

My bulk 2018/2019

Now that we have got everything covered, I will quickly tell you a bit about my bulk this year.

As my current goal is to gain muscle mass, especially in my legs and glutes, I am on a bulk right now.

My caloric need (BMR + physical activity) is around 2150 kcal per day. I have a caloric surplus of around 200-300 kcal per day.

However, I don’t track my calories at the moment, I just eat intentionally and it has worked well for me.

I started my bulk at the beginning of October and have gained 2 kg so far (it’s the beginning of December). We will see how it goes 🙂

I will keep you updated.

Final note

Are you bulking and cutting? Or do you train and eat the same way the entire year? Let me know, I would be really interested to hear.

If you want to learn more about building muscle mass, check out these blog posts:

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Thank you so much for reading,

xx Hana

Photo: Nicolas Zangerle

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