Struggling to build muscle? Bulking up requires as much self-discipline as slimming down. Most people don’t see results straight away and can give in early. Others may train hard for months and still not see results due to not making other lifestyle changes such as changing up one’s diet or not consuming enough liquid. Everyone has the potential to bulk up – it could just be a case of a few tweaks here and there to an otherwise steady routine. Here are 8 tips for successfully bulking up that could help you to start seeing results.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress will help to spur you on. Even if you don’t notice any progress looking in the mirror, you may be making progress in other ways. You might be starting to lift heavier weights or complete more reps. You should keep a record of these small achievements. There are lots of good apps for tracking progress as listed on sites like SpotMeBro. Another option could be to simply keep a calendar or diary of your exercise regime from week to week. You could even start your own blog for recording your progress.
Focus on getting stronger
If you’re getting stronger, your muscles are growing. This is why exercising the same weight repeatedly won’t cause you to bulk up in many cases. You need to challenge yourself by lifting heavier weights once a weight becomes too easy to lift. If you’re using a gym, the machines will likely allow you to progressively add on weights. If you’re exercising from home, it could be handy to buy a barbell and dumbbell in which you can add on new weights.
Set yourself weekly goals
Goals are important for providing motivation. Most people get into bulking with an end goal in sight, but they don’t think to add in short-term weekly as they’re going along. These goals are just as important as they will keep you going from week to week. Your goals should be to always do better than the last week. This could include doing more reps or increasing the weight. You don’t have to continuously meet these goals – in fact if you do you could be setting goals for yourself that are too easy to achieve. The aim is to challenge your abilities. Having a friend or trainer to set these goals may help.
Don’t do too much cardio
Our bodies need cardiovascular exercise, but this should be kept to no more than twenty minutes three times a week when trying to bulk up. This is because cardio activity steals the energy required to build muscle and uses it to provide endurance. You’re much better off sticking to weight training for the majority of your regime.
Consume enough calories
If you’re aiming to build 3lbs of muscle per month (which is about the average realistic goal) you’ll need to be upping your food intake by about 600 calories a day. You need these extra calories to help provide extra energy to you muscles. Without getting these excess calories, you won’t have that extra energy to build muscle and are likely to simply leave each workout feeling exhausted.
The exception to this might be if you’re currently overweight and already consuming too many calories, in which case you may want to continue with your current intake. Whatever the case, you need to be eating more than the normal daily calorie consumption.
But make sure these are clean calories
Too many people mistake upping their calories for pigging out on fast food. Processed foods are likely to contain saturated fats and refined carbs. Rather than creating the energy needed to build out muscles, these foods are more likely to be stored as fat on our bodies. You should be loading up on healthy foods. When it comes to fat, think natural sources such as fish, chicken, dairy and eggs. When it comes to carbs, think unrefined sources such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, peas and broccoli. Avoid too much sugar as this can cause spikes that switch off your body’s fat burning ability, causing you to build fat rather than muscle.
Consider healthy supplements
A number of supplements can help with bulking up. Whey protein is the most commonly used supplement – this can help increase muscle mass. It’s most effective when consumed in a shake post-workout. Creatine is another popular supplement – this is a naturally occurring substance within out muscle cells that helps to provide these cells with energy.
Supplements should be kept natural to avoid any unwanted side effects. Steroids are a good example of a supplement to avoid – whilst they can help with muscle gain, they have been known to cause fatigue, impotence and am imbalance of hormones that can cause men to grow breasts and women to grow body hair. There are natural steroids on the market as described at sites like AreTheyOnSteroids, which don’t have these side effects. You should always take supplements in moderation and only use them in conjunction with exercise and dieting.
Drink enough water
Our muscles are composed of 75% water. For this reason it’s important to stay hydrated when working out to avoid muscles cramping up. Drinking lots of water also aids digestion, allowing important nutrients like protein to be absorbed more effectively an aid muscle growth. It’s best to stick to water as other liquids are likely to contain too much caffeine or sugar, which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients.