This is the time of year when people dedicate their diet and fitness habits to burning body fat and losing weight. It’s also the time of year when gyms are booming with fresh eager faces excited to finally commit and succeed with their New Year’s weight loss resolutions.
But, what if you aren’t interested in losing weight?
What if you’re already relatively lean, or don’t have enough muscle mass on your frame to warrant cutting, and you’re ready to bulk up and build muscle?
You’re in luck.
Today, we have the counterpart to our S.M.A.R.T. guide for cutting with this bulking edition.
What is a S.M.A.R.T. Bulk?
We’ll start off by saying that you should AVOID the dirty bulk.
It used to be commonplace for gym bros to adopt the “see food, eat food” mentality where they were crushing thousands of extra calories per day all in the belief that the more food they ate, the more muscle the would grow.
Unfortunately, while the bros of decades past did build muscle, they also accumulated a lot of excess body fat, which inevitably resulted in them having to spend months on end cutting, and in the process probably losing some of the muscle mass they had just spent the better part of 6 months building.
The above scenario is commonly known as the dirty bulk, and it is not the way to go about building muscle.
Enter the S.M.A.R.T. Bulk
S.M.A.R.T. bulking involves setting Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound Goals.
In terms of bulking, this means that you need to:
Track your sets, reps, weights, and rest periods in the gym.
Muscles only grow if they are forced to perform more work than they previously have. The only way you know how much work a given muscle group has done as well as how much more you need to do the next time you enter the gym to create progressive overload, is to track your workouts.
Set specific calorie and macronutrient targets
In order to build muscle as quickly as possible while limiting fat gain, your nutrition needs to be airtight, meaning that you need to consume enough dietary protein and maintain a positive energy balance (calorie surplus).
Doing so gives your body ample energy to recovery from training along with sufficient amounts of amino acids to repair and build muscle tissue.
Understand muscle building takes time
The body can synthesize a finite amount of muscle protein at any given time. Therefore, when you start bulking realize that losing fat happens a lot quicker than building muscle. Natural lifters can synthesize between 0.25 - 0.5 pounds of muscle per week. Therefore, at most, you should be gaining 0.5-1 pound per week, any more than that, and chances are you’re gaining a lot of fat along with your new muscle.
Building muscle isn’t nearly as complicated as most people have been led to believe. It requires consistency, effort and dedication in training, nutrition, sleep, and stress management. It also requires patience and time. Far too many people hop from one program to another seeking a quick-fix to their muscle building desires.
Find a training program that you enjoy, progress in your workouts from week to week, nail your nutrition goals every single day, get a decent amount of sleep, and over the coming weeks, you will build muscle.