Some folks just naturally tend to be skinny, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, you may like the lean and slim look.
However, if you are interested in building a more muscular physique, then there are safe and effective ways for you to bulk up. While it takes some time and effort, you can put on some real muscle weight by adhering to a proper diet, getting a sufficient amount of sleep regularly, and performing the right kinds of workouts.
This article will discuss in-depth what you should do to bulk up. But first, let's discuss 3 common mistakes that bodybuilding novices make.
1. Eating Without Discrimination
An essential part of bulking up is eating more. However, just because you may eat more doesn't mean it's good for you to eat anything. The calories in a candy bar are going to have different (and probably less) nutritional value than the calories in oatmeal or a plate of pasta. Bulking beginners who don't pay careful attention to the nutritional value of food will often find themselves frustrated - and gaining the wrong kind of weight!
2. Not Setting Specific Goals
There are no two ways about it: someone who wants to bulk up will have to shed his or her lean self-image. Bulking up and slimming down are fitness programs that go in opposite directions. If a bodybuilding novice is unsure about his specific goals or is ambivalent about losing that slim look, then he's setting himself up for failure.
3. Pushing Workouts Past Their Limits
No pain, no gain, right? Actually, your body has some limits that you need to respect. A lot of beginners routinely push themselves past the point of exhaustion in their workouts. However, this habit is counterproductive and could even lead to muscle damage.
So now that you know some practices to avoid, how can you safely and effectively bulk up?
Select the Right Diet
If you want to bulk up for specific events, or seasons of the year, then it's essential to understand that bodybuilding typically involves two stages when it comes to dieting: the bulking stage (or "off-season," which could last about 9 months) and the cutting stage (or "in-season," which lasts the other 3 months). In this post, we are going to focus on the best diet for the bulking stage.
During the bulking phase, most experts recommend that you increase your daily calorie consumption by 15%. Generally speaking, you want to receive about 30% of your calories from protein, 50% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fats.
Here are some foods that provide excellent nutritional and caloric content:
- Meats, poultry, fish.From chicken filet to sirloin steak to baked salmon, these foods offer high protein levels for your diet.
- Seeds and nuts. Most nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are exceptional sources of good fat.
- Fruits and vegetables. Items such as cucumbers, bananas, squash, etc., can provide carbs and healthful sugars.
- Grains. Wheat and rice staples, and other starchy foods are abundant in the right kind of carbohydrates.
Of course, the specific diet you select will depend on your circumstances and goals. Be sure to avoid deep-fried foods, soft drinks, and other food or drink items that are greasy with trans-fats or high in sugar.
Get Plenty of Sleep
There are several obvious reasons why you need an adequate amount of sleep to build muscle. For instance, without enough sleep, you'll have less energy for your workouts. And if you're working out when you're tired, the risk of injury is far higher.
However, there are also compelling scientific reasons to schedule a sufficient amount of time each day to count your sheep. For one thing, your body releases anabolic hormones like testosterone and IGF-1 during sleep. These hormones are essential for muscle growth.
Additionally, when you haven't gotten enough sleep, your body tends to release ghrelin, an appetite-promoting hormone, as opposed to the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. This could have a negative impact on your bulking plan. After all, while you need to eat more during the bulking phase, you don't want to eat too much; or the wrong kind of food.
Choose Appropriate Workouts
Certain workout routines are better-suited for bulking up than others. You'll generally want to focus on large muscle groups, like your chest, back and legs. You also may want to have longer rests in between sets, to give your muscles more in-workout recovery time from heavier lifts. For instance, instead of resting 30-40 seconds between sets, rest 60-80 seconds.
The main objective of your workout regimen should be bringing your targeted muscles to "failure point." In other words, to the point where you can't lift the dumbbell or weight one more time. At this point, your muscle will have already experienced micro-tears, which your body will then set out to repair, thus making your muscle even stronger.
Workouts that force your muscles to grow usually don't include cardio workouts. While these definitely have their place, it is recommended that you not perform cardio workouts on the same day that you do your heavy lifting; or if you do, that you perform them in the morning, and your heavy lifting later in the day.
The following is a list of some excellent workouts for building muscle quickly (please note this is by no means a comprehensive list):
- Bench press.
- Incline dumbbell press.
- Push ups.
- Dumbbell lateral raise.
- Pull ups.
- Bicep curl.
- Dumbbell lunge.
- Side plank with lateral raise.
It is worth a mention that during weight training sessions, beginners and experienced bodybuilders alike find that well-designed wrist wraps can help prevent wrist pain and make the sessions more effective and enjoyable.
Working out 3 days a week is a good start for absolute beginners. Once you get more advanced with your training regimen, you can progress to 4 or 5 days a week of high-intensity workouts. Every once in a while, you may want to leave room for alternative movements, like biking or swimming.
Should Women Train Differently?
Many women want to build muscle but are not interested in bulking up or becoming significantly bigger than they currently are. Will weight-lifting sessions by themselves cause women to bulk up?
The answer is no. While the targeted muscles will become stronger, and somewhat larger, the lack of testosterone in an average woman's system will prevent her from rapidly gaining bulk. In fact, men produce, on average 10 times more testosterone than women!
Additionally, there is a difference in muscle mass distribution between men and women: men typically have more muscle mass in the upper body, and women have more muscle concentration in the lower body.
These two reasons are why men generally can bulk up quickly, and women can't. So while a strength training program for a woman may have subtle differences from an equivalent program for a man, the basic principles are the same.
The Importance of Recovery Periods
As mentioned previously, one of the biggest mistakes that beginners make is to push their body past its limits. The body needs recovery time between workouts in order for it to perform at a peak level the next go-round, and weight lifting usually requires more recovery time than endurance training or body-weight workouts.
How can you tell that your body still needs time to recover? Soreness could be a sign that you need to give that muscle more time to rest. You can choose a simple, non-strenuous task to perform as a baseline when your muscles are at full capacity, such as balancing yourself on one leg. Then, to determine if your muscles are fully recovered, perform that same task, and see how your current performance compares to the baseline.
For single-joint training (such as bicep curls, in which only the elbow joint moves), you'll typically need one day of rest in-between intense workout sessions. If you plan to work out on consecutive days, alternate muscle groups to prevent muscle damage.
To improve muscle recovery time, feed your body with the proper nutrients after your workout session. It's recommended that you eat approximately 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day and about 6 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram. '
Moreover, make sure that you keep yourself hydrated during and immediately after a workout. A loss of just 2% of your body's weight in water means that you are technically dehydrated.
If you tend towards the skinny side of the spectrum and want to pack on some muscles, don't despair! Remember to avoid common mistakes for beginners, and pay close attention to these 3 aspects of your training:
- Exercise regimen
If you're a woman looking to gain strength without bulk, then rest assured that you can follow the same basic principles discussed above without any unwanted side effects. Finally, ensure that you're letting your body get the rest that it needs to perform at peak levels throughout your training program.
As you start on your quest to bulk up, be sure to check out our store at TuffWraps for apparel, accessories, and fitness and strength gear, such as our patented Villain Wrist Wraps. And remember: stay tuff as you bulk up!