man on a bulk flexing at the gym

The Ultimate Bulking Guide: How to Build Mass Fast

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If you are looking to gain the maximum amount of lean muscle mass in the shortest amount of time you have landed on the right article! This bulking blueprint will cut through the fluff, and get back to the basics of building muscle mass effectively.

We are first going to dive into how many calories you need to consume for a healthy calorie surplus that maximizes lean muscle gains. Yes, it’s true: you have to eat big to get big, and now you will know exactly how much food to consume for your body type.

The Ultimate Bulking Guide Breakdown

Section 1: Eating: First up, we are going to get into a few delicious and easy bulking recipes so you can maintain your calorie surplus and begin packing on lean muscle mass. Bulking shakes are the easiest and most delicious way to consume enough calories daily. You are going to get many amazing recipes filled with lean protein, healthy fats, and slow digesting carbohydrates.

Section 2: Supplementation: When working towards a healthy bulk, using the proper supplementation is vital. You’ll learn the top five best supplements to use during your bulk. These supplements will help supercharge your results and give you tremendous strength, power, and recovery benefits in the gym. These are powerful, scientifically proven supplements that produce gains!

Section 3: Training: The next section is going to be all about training and the workouts that will give you the most bang for your buck while bulking. Many lifters enter a bulking phase without following the right workout regimen, but not anymore. We will outline a hardcore training regimen that will give even the most experienced lifters bulking success.

Section 4: Staying Lean: Want to ensure that you don’t gain much fat while you’re bulking? The next section is going to offer you 2 tricks that will help your body keep the fat gains at bay while you go full on beast mode during your bulk.

Section 5: Diet, Hormone Optimization: The last section is going to dive further into the diet regimen during your bulking and explain why not all calories are created equal. This section is going to teach you how to eat to maximize your anabolic muscle building hormones. This section is key for putting everything together and having a successful bulking period.

So are you ready to bulk? Thought so. Let’s get into the Ultimate Bulking Guide!

Eating for a Calorie Surplus

The first component to a bulking phase is to make sure that you are in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than your body requires to maintain it’s current weight). When you are bodybuilding, you are either in a calorie deficit, surplus, or maintenance.

There is a lot of truth to the motto that you have to “eat big to get big.” It is no secret that entering a calorie surplus is your quickest path to building muscle fast.

Entering a calorie surplus will give your body all of the necessary fuel it needs to start adding mass. Maintaining a calorie surplus will help you:

  • Increase strength in the gym
  • Build muscle mass
  • Recover quicker from training
  • Maximize muscle glycogen levels and appear “full”
  • Maximize anabolic hormone release

Before you start your bulking phase, you need to figure out exactly how many calories you should be consuming. There are obviously a few external factors such as age, metabolism, body type, and activity level, but we will give you a formula so you can estimate for your body type.

How fast you should be gaining mass

A general rule of thumb during your bulking phase is that you should aim to be gaining between 0.5 to 1.5 lbs per week. If you are a complete newbie in the gym, you will gain significantly more than an experienced lifter who has been training for 5 plus years. Advanced natural lifters with years of proper training and eating under their belt should aim to gain a maximum of 0.5 lbs or less per week if minimizing fat gain is a priority.

It is important to weigh yourself each week around the same time so you can track your progress and make sure that you don’t need to adjust your calorie intake. Your weekly weight is your primary guide to monitor if your bulk is going according to plan.

If you are staying at the same weight or gaining less than 0.5 lbs per week, you need to increase your calorie intake by about 250-300 per day until you hit the sweet spot. Keep adjusting your calorie intake by about 250-300 calories until you are gaining enough weight per week.

Consequently, if you are gaining more than 1.5 lbs per week, you will need to lower your calorie intake to ensure that you are not gaining too much fat. The goal is to build the most amount of muscle, with the least amount of fat. This will take some guess and check over the first few weeks of bulking but will be well worth it in the long term.

Calculating your caloric intake for quality bulking

So how many calories should you be consuming on a bulking phase? We broke it down into 3 categories so you can easily calculate. Keep in mind that this is just a broad guideline, and it will require trial & error to figure out what works for you.

  • Endomorphs: Slow metabolism and usually store fat easier, with a larger frame and bone structure
    • Bodyweight x 14
  • Ectomorphs: Fast metabolism and usually lose fat quicker; the naturally skinny guy
    • Bodyweight x 17
  • Mesomorphs: Naturally fit with an average metabolism; the athlete or ideal male physique
    • Bodyweight x 15

Simply calculate your body weight by the number given to figure out your approximate bulking calorie intake. If you are a 200 lb ectomorph trying to figure out your bulking calorie intake, you will multiply 200 x 17 and arrive at a 3,400-calorie count.

To get extremely specific on your calculations, try out this calculator here.

How should you break your calories up?

You need to have a heavy supply of protein, fats, and carbohydrates during a bulking phase. You must not eliminate any of these macronutrients during a bulking phase as all three serve a valuable purpose.

The amino acids in protein are needed to build muscle tissue.

Carbohydrates are important for growth, especially when consumed post-workout to help to create an anabolic atmosphere in your body and shuttle nutrients into your cells.

Healthy fats will help with optimal hormone production and help you maximize testosterone during your bulking phase.

Try the following calculations during your bulking phase:

  • Protein: 1.25 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Fats: 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Carbohydrates: 1.85 grams per pound of bodyweight

For a 200 lb ectomorph we would have the following calculations:

  • Protein: 225 Grams
  • Fat: 120 Grams
  • Carbohydrates: 370 Grams

Homemade weight gain shakes for easy calorie intake

Consuming a calorie surplus (consuming a ton of food) can be hard when you live a life on the go. It can also be hard in general, as not many people really want to prepare 6+ meals per day. That is why your best friend during a bulking period should be your blender. Consuming a calorie dense bulking shake is going to be the easiest way to get all of your daily calories in.

Try one of these delicious bulking shakes that all contain over 1,000 calories. Not only do these 4 recipes contain high-quality muscle building ingredients, but they’re also delicious!

Bulking Shake Recipe 1: Chocolate Peanut Butter Muscle

In a blender mix the following ingredients:

  • 1.5 Cups Low Fat Chocolate Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Grain Rolled Oats
  • 4 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 2 Scoops Protein Powder (chocolate or vanilla both work)
  • A handful of ice cubes

Bulking Shake Recipe 2: Bulking Colada

In a blender mix the following ingredients:

  • 1-Cup Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2-Cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Liquid Coconut Oil
  • 1.5 Scoops Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 4 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • A handful of ice cubes

Bulking Shake Recipe 3: Banana Berry Gains

In a blender mix the following ingredients:

  • 1-Cup Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice (real orange juice)
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 Cup Frozen Mixed Berries
  • 2 Tbsp Liquid Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
  • A handful of ice cubes

Bulking Shake Recipe 4: Chocolate Peanut Butter Clean Gains

In a blender mix the following ingredients:

  • 1.5 Cups Regular Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Grain Rolled Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 2 Scoops of Chocolate Protein Powder
  • A handful of ice cubes

The 5 Best Supplements for Bulking

When you are working towards gaining lean muscle mass, it is vital that you consume the best muscle building supplements to assist you with increasing strength, improving recovery, and enhancing overall workout performance.

Let’s take a look at 5 science-backed, staple ingredients that you should be consuming to enhance your muscle building efforts.

1. Creatine

Creatine is one of the only muscle building supplements that has over 30 years of scientific proof backing it up. By consuming creatine during a bulking phase, you are allowing your muscles to exert more force which will enable you to train heavier for longer, translating into more gains over time.

Supplementing with creatine means that on heavy compound exercises such as the deadlift, squat, and bench press, your body will be able to perform on a higher level. More reps, heavier weight, and more sets mean more gains, period.  The end result is that you get bigger and stronger much quicker!

For optimal results aim to consume 3-6 grams per day, with a serving consumed before and after a training session. ALTIUS Pre-Workout and POWERBUILD Post-Workout formulas contain a full clinical dose of premium creatine monohydrate to load your cells and maximize results.

2. Protein Powder

Since you will be consuming a lot of protein during a bulking phase, it can be challenging to get your entire daily intake from whole foods. This is where high-quality protein powder comes into play.

Supplementing with a protein powder throughout the day and after your workout is vital for success during a bulking phase. Quality protein powders are great sources of protein, making them ideal for post-workout supplementation and meal replacement.

Make sure to opt for a non-amino-spiked protein powder that is sweetened naturally and contains no filler ingredients or proprietary blends. Cheaper is not better, as a general rule of thumb if you can snatch up a 5-pound tub of protein for $40 or less, it’s likely to be very poor quality.

Whey protein isolate or a quality blend (isolate, casein, or egg) is ideal for post-workout consumption, and casein or a quality blend is a good source for night time protein due to its slow release into your body.

3. L-Leucine

L-Leucine is a very important muscle-building amino acid. Consuming L-Leucine after your workout and throughout the day can help your body recover quicker and become a muscle-building machine. Leucine is the most essential amino acid for initiating protein synthesis.

We recommend consuming 4 grams of L-Leucine post-workout during your bulking phase. Our post-workout supplement POWERBUILD has a full 4 gram serving of L-Leucine.

4. Betaine

Betaine is another powerful ingredient with promising research behind it.

In one study, weight trained subjects consumed 1.25g of Betaine twice per day (2.5g), and the result was an increase in muscle strength by 25% and muscle power by 20%.

The most promising study comes from the College of Springfield, which had weight-trained males follow a periodization weight-training program for six weeks while consuming 1.25g of Betaine twice per day. The result was a 10% increase in arm size, and muscle mass increased by 4 pounds.

2.5 Grams of Betaine is included in both ALTIUS Pre-Workout and POWERBUILD Post-Workout.

5. L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that should be a staple in your supplement regimen. It may not directly add slabs of muscle to your frame, but it will help support the immune system, combat overtraining, and help your body cope with a heavy training routine. Training is a form of stress on the body and can actually put the immune system in a vulnerable state. L-Glutamine supplementation will help make sure you stay healthy and ready to attack your next training session.

We recommend at least 5 grams of L-Glutamine per day. You can get a full 5 gram serving of L-Glutamine in POWERBUILD.

How to Train for Maximum Gains

Now that we have our calories calculated and our supplement regimen down, it’s time to talk about training for maximum gains.

How you train will make or break your success during a bulking phase. The majority of your efforts need to be on performing the exercises that work for the body’s largest and strongest muscle groups.

Heavy compound movements build muscle

A big mistake that many lifters make is performing way too many isolation exercises and not enough compound exercises. 80% of your effort should be focused on heavy, compound lifts, period.

Even if your main goal is to get bigger biceps, heavy compound exercises are the best way to accomplish your goal.

Progressive overload

There are many different training regimens that you can follow during a bulking phase, but the main principle that you should keep in mind is progressive overload.

To trigger muscle growth, increase strength, perform better, or improve in any other way, forced adaptation must occur using resistance that is beyond what the body has previously been subjected to.

In other words, it’s important to keep track of the weight and reps for each exercise performed in a particular training session. Then, with each new training session, your goal should be to increase either the weight, reps, or both.

Continuous progressive overload that is carefully tracked will yield tremendous gains over time. This is the kind of external maintenance that will push you to greatness.

It’s a general rule that you will not increase your muscle size drastically without increasing strength. By tracking the weights and reps used in a training session, it will enable you to push yourself each workout and exceed your previous bests.

At the very minimum aim to do 8 sets per week of each of the following compound exercises. These are the best exercises for building muscle because they work multiple large muscle groups and surrounding smaller muscle groups at the same time.

Minimum 8 sets of these compound lifts per week

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press
  • Weighted Dips
  • Weighted Pull Ups
  • Barbell Row
  • Dead Lift
  • Squat
  • Dumbbell Lunges
  • Seated Row Machine
  • Front Squat

80 sets of compound lifts per week

That comes out to 80 sets of compound lifts per week when focusing on the progressive overload principles discussed above. Combine this workout regimen with a calorie surplus and a high-quality supplement regimen, and you will be seeing some amazing results!

How to Stay Lean While Bulking

Many people worry about gaining too much fat during a bulking phase, so let’s talk about how to avoid that. One defense is to manipulate the body’s key fat burning hormones while entering a calorie surplus. This can be done with strategic cardio and a simple diet rule.

1. High-intensity interval cardio

If the objective is to perform the best cardio for gaining lean muscle mass and burning body fat, look no further then HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).

Case in point: the physique of an Olympic sprinter.

HIIT training has been shown to increase your anabolic hormones and help stimulate your metabolism for up to 24 hours following the cardio regimen.

To keep fat gains low during a bulking period, you should aim to perform 2 or 3 high-intensity interval-training sessions per week. This will ensure that your metabolism is churning and you are minimizing fat storage during your calorie surplus.

You can perform a HIIT session by simply running sprint intervals. Try sprinting for 10-15 seconds and resting for 30-45 seconds between sprints. Do this for 6-10 intervals and enjoy the results! Other fun sprinting options include stair sprints and hill sprints. Find a nice big hill or a long set of stairs, and get to work!

2. Lean and clean bulking

Many people get carried away eating during a bulking phase. This is known as a “dirty bulk,” and it’s dirty!

Bulking does not mean eating whatever you want whenever you want. There has to be some science to your diet and consumption patterns.

To have a successful clean & healthy bulk, the 80:20 rule should be followed. 80% of your calories should consist of good, nutritious foods. 20% of your calories can be flexible (did somebody say pop tarts!). As long as you are getting in your macronutrient totals and eating nutritious food 80 percent of the time, you should be well on your way to a successful bulk.

Eating for Maximum Anabolic Hormone Levels

Time to wrap up the ultimate bulking guide by discussing how to eat for maximum anabolic hormone response. Primarily we are going to talk about the key muscle building hormone, testosterone, and how you can manipulate your diet for increased lean muscle building.

This section is going to be all about eating to maximize testosterone levels. By strategically eating certain foods, you can set yourself up to have optimal levels of testosterone.

Foods that boost testosterone

The Ultimate Bulking Guide Conclusion

If you follow all of the steps to the Ultimate Bulking Guide, you will without a doubt build muscle, gain strength, and minimize fat gain. If you are currently struggling to gain mass, try following this blueprint for 12 straight weeks. Commit to 12 weeks, and the results will really surprise you.

To recap, here are the steps to a successful bulking phase:

  1. Figure out how many calories it takes for your body to build mass.
  2. Figure out the exact macronutrient calculations for protein, carbs, and fat
  3. Consume homemade bulking shakes for easy calories.
  4. Stock up on the best supplements for building muscle, strength, and recovery.
  5. Follow the best training principles for maximum results.
  6. Know how to minimize fat gains while bulking.
  7. Eat for maximum anabolic hormone levels.

This is your fail-proof blueprint to unleash your muscle building potential. Good luck and get to work!

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