For those of us who want to increase muscle size the only way to do this is by implementing what is considered a bulking cycle, unfortunately there are many misconceptions about bulking cycles and what is the proper way to approach it.
While many complain about being hard gainers regardless of your body type you can increase muscle mass, it just may take you longer than others, they key is consistency Hard gainers struggle with packing on more muscle but it does not have to be difficult and can actually be an enjoyable experience.
There are two different kinds bulking cycles, one involves a certain training regimen and proper nutrition, the other consists of using some sort of anabolic steroids, anabolic steroids can have some severe side effects and the results are short lived, if you don’t believe me take a look at some of the famous bodybuilders before and after a Mr. Olympia competition and you will notice that they tend to drop a considerable amount of weight, this is usually due to the fact that they discontinue the use of anabolic steroids during the offseason.
Before you begin a bulking cycle you should already have a good idea of how your metabolism works, some of require more calories than others and the key to bulking up is making sure that your muscles get enough nutrients which means getting plenty of protein and carbohydrates.
In order to build muscle you have to make it grow, in order for muscles to grow you have to consistently shock the muscles, during most bulking cycles you will want to concentrate on lifting heavy weight while keeping the reps low. You may also want to consider HIT training which focuses on heavy weight with slow contractions and movements.
My first bulking cycle was an incredible experience and I managed to pack on 50 pounds in less than 6 months and below is what I did to accomplish this.
Train major muscle groups
The first 3 months of my bulking cycle I made sure I focused on the major muscle groups with as much weight as I could possibly handle, keeping the sets between 3 and 4 sets and keeping the reps between 4-6 I focused on one muscle group per day and trained 3 days per week.
- Monday Back
- Tuesday Chest
- Wednesday Rest
- Thursday Legs
- Friday Rest
- Saturday Rest
- Sunday Rest
During the first 3 months I made sure I was getting plenty of food I also made sure I was getting at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and an adequate amount of carbs, for those first few months I did not keep a close eye on my diet and pretty much ate what I wanted.
While some may disagree with in order to bulk you want to make every calorie count so I did not do any cardio for the first 3 months.
The next 3 months I began to implement cardio at least twice a week keeping a slow pace on a treadmill or elliptical machine, this will help prevent excess fat buildup, I also began to clean up my food intake sticking to really clean foods such as oatmeal, brown rice lots of chicken and fish and plenty of leafy green vegetables in plentiful amounts.
The following 3 months I began to train 5 days per week and increasing my sets to 5 sets per exercise while increasing the rep ranges between 6-8 reps but still keeping my weight between 70% -85% of my one rep max. I also began training shoulders on one day and arms on another which is where the 5 days came in to play.
- Monday Chest
- Tuesday Back
- Wednesday Triceps and Biceps
- Thursday Legs
- Friday Shoulders
- Saturday Rest
- Sunday Rest
The above is just a guide to training, but one thing that is important is to make sure you constantly switch up your routine so that your muscles don’t get used the same old thing.
Many ask if they should take supplements during a bulking cycle, me personally I enjoy eating good food, during my bulking cycle I did take creatine just to get a better pump and during the last month I did take a 30 day bulking stack cycle using CrazyBulk supplements which helped me improve my energy and strength levels significantly.
The above is just a personal routine that worked for me, some consider a 6 month bulking cycle too long and prefer a shorter period ” 3 months” but I do the same for cutting I like to take a gradual approach for each. I begin my bulking cycle towards the end of summer usually the middle of September and then begin my cutting cycle around the middle of January so that I can look good during the summer.