What does bulking season mean for me?
Bulking is a key part of many athletes’ life. We all want to gain muscle and mass and bulking is one of the best ways to put on weight in a controlled way. Many people use the term “bulking”, but not everyone knows what it means, and, in this article, we are going to be sharing what bulking season is and what it means to you as an athlete or sports person. We hope by the end of this article you will know the inside and outs of bulking and will be able to plan your own bulking period.
What is bulking season?
The first things that may come into your head when someone mentions their bulking season is “what exactly is a bulking season?”. Well, a bulk is when you eat an excess number of calories in an attempt to gain weight. The main goal of a bulk is to consume more calories than you burn off and this puts you in a calorie excess. This then allows your body to use the extra calories to grow bigger by increasing muscle and fat mass. So, a bulking season refers to this but done over a period of time for example over a month.
A bulk is usually followed by a cut. So, when bulking we gain as much muscle as possible by increasing our calorie intake, staying in a surplus and also doing resistance training as this is going to cause your muscles to grow. In a cut we will then cut off the excess fat we have gained during a bulk to reveal a ripped physique we have worked hard for. As well as gaining muscle mass a bulking season is a chance to gain strength and also train at a different intensity that your used to. This change can fitness more interesting and gives you a break from your usual training style.
Increases calorie intake
The main part of a bulk is what goes into your mouth. In a simple explanation when bulking you need to make sure that you are in a calorie surplus. This means that you’re consuming more calories than you burn off. For example, if you need 2500 calories to maintain your current body weight then a surplus would be anything above this. Its usually a few hundred calories above what you need to maintain your weight so in this case for a bulk this person can consume 3000 calories a day which is 500 more than what is needed.
Although people often increase their calories by a few hundred when bulking, the amount you decide to be in a surplus depends on your goals. For example, if you’re looking to gain a lot of weight and have the training and lifestyle to match then you may decide to be in a surplus of 1000 calories or more. Although eating more food seems like a great idea, you also need to pay attention to the source of the calories and also your macro nutrients. As you are going to want to gain muscle you want to make sure you have a high protein intake. Also, you want to keep carbs high, so your body has energy. If you get your calories from unhealthy foods like fried food then this would be known as a “dirty bulk”, on the other hand if you are planning your meals and decide to take the healthier options then this is known as a “clean bulk”.
Hit the gym
One of the most important things when it comes to bulking is your training and you need to be going to the gym a few times a week for a good bulking season. Your main focus in the gym should be resistance training. This includes things like weights and resistance machines as these are what trigger muscle to grow after a long hard session. Also, usually when bulking people tend to lower the repetitions and go for higher weight as this can help to get the maximum muscle growth and strength gain. So, to start with try increasing the weight and going for a moderate number of reps like around 10 to 7.
You may also be used to doing a bit of cardio every time you go to the gym. For example, at the end of a session you may decide to spend 20 minutes on the tread mill or exercise bike. Although this is a healthy thing to do as it promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, when bulking you don’t want to be doing too much cardio. This is because cardio burns the precious calories you worked so hard to consume. Also, cardio tends not to increase your muscle mass or promote muscle growth so from a bulking point of view, cardio is a waste or calories. Although it burns calories a few sessions a week won’t hurt to maintain your cardiovascular health.
Time of year
This may be a surprise to many people but the time of year you decide to start bulking also makes a difference. Bulking season is usually associated with winter months and there are a few good reasons for this. One of the reasons is that winter is cold, and its natural for us to gain weight in the winter months as the extra fat will keep us warm when the temperature drops. Also, we tend to eat more food in the wintertime. This can be due to many different celebrations and festivals like Christmas or thanksgiving where food plays a big part of the festivities.
Also, when its colder we tend to be less active. This can be because of the shorter days and the fact that its freezing outside. Well, this is great when it comes to bulking as less activity means we will burn less calories. This means that our body has more calories it can put towards other things like gaining weight. Also, because its colder in winter there’s a good chance that you’re not going to be going to the beach so if you where to cut in winter instead of bulk then this would be a waste as no one will see the physique you worked so hard for.
When trying to gain the most amount of muscle that is possible naturally, timing can be everything. For example, people often say its better to workout in the mornings as you will have the most energy and are likely to perform better. Also, your food intake needs to be timed right, one example of this is your protein intake. After a workout your muscles need nutrients to rebuild themselves and not replenishing the nutrients can cause your muscles to break down and shrink in size. So, after a workout be sure to load up on protein and carbs to replenish those that have been burned off.
Also, when bulking you need to time your meals so your never going hungry. Being in a state where your hungry will cause your muscles to breakdown. So, replenishing your nutrients regularly will cause your body to have a positive nitrogen balance and therefore increase muscle synthesis (muscle building). Also, you will need to consider over night as in this period your body still needs nutrients, so try taking some slow digesting protein before bed and this can include things like casein protein.
Supplements can help
Supplements are designed to help us and can make things easier. They are used by many different people, but athletes often take them to help them improve there performance and physiques. When bulking supplements can really help and ne thing that is designed for this scenario is mass gainer. Mass gainer shakes are high in calories and macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Also, a pretty standard supplement in fitness is whey protein. This is going to help with your protein intake that may be hard to achieve form just food alone.
When bulking you can also take supplements that can help you more than just providing you with macronutrients. Another supplement that can be key when bulking is creatine. This supplement allows more water to be held by your muscles, but it can also provide your muscles with more energy. This means you can train harder and make the most gains possible. Also, multivitamins are something that many people should be taking. Vitamins and minerals control a lot of processes in your body and being low on them can cause things like low testosterone and also decreased muscle mass, so you need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins.
In conclusion, bulking season is nothing to be worried about and is a normal part of many different athletes’ year. As long as you plan out your bulk and do what you can to gain the most muscle mass possible then you should be fine. Also, when bulking its common to put on some fat but don’t let this scare you as this is normal, and you will lose this when you start to cut and get shredded. We now hope bulking season makes sense to you and is something you will consider doing to achieve your fitness goals.