After summer comes to an end and you've been on your summer holiday, it is common to go into a bulking / gaining phase where you look to build as much muscle tissue as possible. In this article we will look at how you can go into a bulking phase with a more strategic approach to limit the amount of body fat gained.
The most important factor when going into bulking phase is understanding how to eat in a calorie surplus. A calorie surplus is where you consume more calories than you are burning per day. You can track if you are eating in a calorie surplus by tracking your bodyweight consistently.
If the goal is to build muscle throughout the bulking phase, it is important you have a good training plan in place that you can progress on over the phase. You should look to add compound movements to your training and then progressively overload them as your weight starts to increase. Progressive overload is where you improve the weight, reps or tempo of your sets week on week.
During the bulking phase you should focus on any weak areas that you may have by increasing the weekly volume of sets on them muscle groups. For example if your goal is to build a bigger chest, do more sets on movements that target the chest over the week.
Lean vs Dirty Bulking
You have probably heard the terms lean and dirty bulking, this refers to the quality of foods you consume and the size of the calorie surplus you are eating in. A lean bulk is where you eat in a slight calorie surplus to minimise the amount of fat gain while still being able to build muscle. A lean bulk usually contains more whole foods and a common split when lean bulking in 80% healthy foods and 20% unhealthy foods.
Dirty bulking is where you pay less attention to the nutritional value of foods and just eat as many calories as possible per day. You will see scale weight increase faster this way however you will also see significantly more fat gain compared to a lean bulk.
Which one to choose
If your goal is build muscle and look good then the simple answer is to lean bulk. If you want to put on weight and just improve strength, dirty bulking can be an option. Lean bulking is the healthier option out of the two and will leave you feeling better and more energised. Food is fuel for your body and has a big impact on the quality of your training sessions. Lean bulking will make you feel better than dirty bulking and therefore is the better option for the majority of people.
To summarise, both of these bulking techniques will see you increase weight and improve strength in the gym however lean bulking has many more positives compared to dirty bulking. Dirty bulking should be something that is last resort if you simply can't enough calories through a balanced diet.