What is bulking?

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What is bulking?

If you have started going to the gym or are an athlete, then you have probably heard about bulking. This is a form of diet and training that has been used by bodybuilders for many years to build muscle mass before competitions. There are many different approaches you can take to bulking and this can be confusing if you are new to bodybuilding. In this article we are going to be going over the basics of bulking and why its something you should do to take your physique to the next level.


What is bulking?

Bulking refers to consuming excess calories to promote growth. It’s a well-known fact that eating more food means you are going to put on more mass and the quality of calories will be reflected by the type of mass you put on. For example, of you are consuming many carbohydrates and saturated fat then you will gain more body fat. A bulking season also involves a lot of heavy resistance training to promote muscle growth as this will improve rates of protein synthesis. There is no way to just gain muscle mass without gaining a bit of fat, so we have to do them at the same time. 

A period of bulking is followed by a period of cutting. This is the opposite of bulking and involves you trying to lose as much fat as possible. During a cutting season you are usually in a calorie deficit so you can burn off the fat you gained during a bulking season. When cutting you may also do more cardo-based training as this is great for burning calories and fat.


Types of bulking

When it comes to the type of bulk you do there are two different forms you can go with. There is a clean bulk and a dirty bulk, and these are determined by the food you eat.  A clean bulk is when the calories you are consuming are still in excess but come from healthy food sources. You are still in a calorie excess but are eating healthier, this can be challenging as it can require you to eat a higher volume of food compared to someone participating in a dirty bulk. This form of bulking also decreases the amount of mass you gain being fat and there is lower health risks.

The other type of bulking as you may already know is a dirty bulk. This involves consuming your excess calories by any means possible. Although this may seem like a free for all you still have to stick to your daily calorie goals and macro goals. You would usually consume all the foods you would miss while trying to lose weight, for example you would eat more sweets, chocolate, and unhealthy fast foods. In the long run dirty bulking will have more health effects than a clean bulk due to the unhealthy foods you are eating. An example of a health risk that is increased by a dirty bulk id cardiovascular disease as the increase in saturated fats can block arteries and restrict blood flow.


Is it safe?

Many will question whether bulking is a safe thing to do. This is due to when bulking people usually eat calorie dense foods and these can be unhealthy. For example, friend foods and sugary foods are high in calories so are preferred when bulking. The main worry is the fat gained during this period of overeating.  However, this all depends on the type of bulk you do and for how long. The end goal isn’t to eat yourself to obesity, but to gain mass either as muscle mass or fat (preferably muscle). So, we can make gaining mass a lot safer by just eating the right things, doing a clean bulk may be harder but your efforts will be reflected on the end result of your physique.

When following a dirty bulk your carb and sugar intake can be quite high causing a spike in blood sugar levels. This can then put you at risk of developing other health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and can put you at risk of a stroke or heart attack. As we do not bulk over a long term there are only limited health issues that are caused by this as long as you lose all weight gained when cutting.  Eating a vast quantity of food also will make you feel sluggish and this is something that can affect your motivation and drive to do your activities.


How bulking affects performance

Your diet can have a big effect on how you perform.  One obvious effect of bulking is more muscle mass, this means your mass that is muscle will increase and as a result you may get stronger. As a result of getting stronger you will be able to lift more and do more repetitions, this contributes to your fitness goals as it speeds up progress and helps get results quicker. As a natural athlete bulking is a great way to gain a significant amount of strength and muscle mass. This can also help get you out of a hard gaining period as it fuels your body with all the nutrients you need.

Although there are many performance benefits to bulking, there can also be some setbacks.  One quite obvious disadvantage of bulking is that you gain more fat that usual, this can have a negative affect on performance as it can make you slower and decrease your range of movement. Bulking also can get you hooked on some unhealth habits like getting used to eating unhealthy junk food. Although good as a treat, eating this type of food all the time can put you at risk of a range of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.


In conclusion, bulking and cutting are very useful tools when it comes to gaining muscle and losing fat. There are a few side effects to these methods, but they have been used for many years by bodybuilders around the world and are continued to be used to this day. Different people like to put their own twists on bulking to make them more appealing and personalised, this allows you to eat the food you are familiar with and enjoy. You an also try eating healthier foods by engaging in a clean bulk to reduce the harmful health affects caused by the unhealthy foods.  And another thing to remember is that you should not eat too much, a surplus of only around 500 calories is needed depending on your goals.