The Ultimate Guide To Bulking And Building Muscle
In a man’s continuing quest to look his best, he inevitably start chasing gains. Muscle looks good and since we want to look good, embarking on a muscle-building program is only logical.
Unfortunately, for a lot of guys who start chasing gains, they never actually catch them. Instead they hit the gym, day after day, week after week, month after month, and never look any different.
Because the reality is, there’s a lot more that goes into building muscle than simply lifting weights, or hittin’ your biceps with 21’s every other day.
Building muscle takes hard-work, dedication, and following a program that, if you work hard and are dedicated, will let you see success.
Components Of A Successful Muscle-Building Program
Before we get to the ultimate muscle-building program, we need to take a quick look at the most important aspects of building muscle.
- Progressive Overload – This sounds like a fancy term, but it’s really nothing more than increasing how much you lift from one workout to the next. The simplest way to do this is to add weight to your exercises, but you can also increase the number of sets and reps you do.
- Muscle Tension – After progressive overload, the next most important factor for muscle growth is creating tension. Tension can be a difficult concept to understand, but it’s important (check out this article for a complete breakdown of creating muscle tension). For our purposes, we’re going to be mainly concerned with Time Under Tension (TUT), or how long you actually spend lifting the weight during a given set. One of the best ways to increase tension is to add tempo to an exercise. And example of this would be a 3-1-2-0 tempo, where you take 3 seconds for the first portion of a lift, pause for 1 second, take 2 seconds for the second portion of the lift, and take no pause before starting your next rep. Another way to do this is to add pauses during the contracted portion of a lift, like the bottom of a squat, or the top of a bicep curl.
- Muscle Damage – Despite the name, this is actually a good thing. The process of creating muscle damage forces muscle fibers to repair themselves, and when they do that, they come back bigger, stronger, and denser. The best way to do this is by progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights, or by increasing TUT.
- Metabolic Stress – Metabolic stress is typically referred to as “the pump”, and it’s the feeling you get when your muscles become exhausted. What happens is your muscles aren’t receiving as much oxygen as they’re use to, in combination with a build-up of blood and lactic acid. This is critical, and actually triggers a process that ends with your muscle cells being “activated” and primed for growth.
Your Ultimate Muscle-Building Workout
The ultimate muscle-building workout is going to use a mix of lower rep/heavier weight work – to help induce muscle damage, and increase tension; while facilitating progressive overload – and higher rep/lighter weight days – in order to manipulate tension and increase metabolic stress – to create the perfect muscle-building environment.
You’ll be training five days per week, following this schedule:
Monday – Day 1
Tuesday – Day 2
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Day 3
Friday – Day 4
Saturday – Day 5
Sunday – Off
Day 1 – Lower Body Strength
Day 2 – Upper Body Hypertrophy, Chest & Arms
Day 3 – Upper Body Strength
Day 4 – Lower Body Hypertrophy
Day 5 – Upper Body Hypertrophy, Back & Shoulders
The Ultimate Muscle-Building Nutrition
When it comes to building muscle, how you eat is going to be just as important as how you train. You can lift all the weights in the world, but if you aren’t eating enough to allow your body to build muscle, it won’t matter. Here’s a guide for getting your nutrition on point…
Find Your Caloric Maintenance
Your caloric maintenance is the number of calories you need to eat on a daily basis to maintain your bodyweight. There’s no exact way to do this – it’s more trial-and-error – but the simplest is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 13-14. If you’re more active in your daily life, use 14; if you’re less active use 13.
So, say we have someone who weighs 200 pounds. We’d take his weight and multiply by 13:
200 pounds x 13 = 2,600 calories per day
Then, because we want to gain muscle, we need to eat more calories than we burn, so our body has extra energy to put towards building muscle. The best way I’ve found for setting surplus’ is to use percentages between 10-20%.
If you’re someone who gains weight easily, stick closer to 10%, where if you’re someone who has trouble gaining weight, you can go closer to 20%. So, for our example, let’s use 10%:
2,600 calories x 1.10 = 2,860 calories per day
Next, we need to find how many grams of protein, fat, and carbs you need to eat on a daily basis; because where those calories come from is an important part of building muscle as well.
First we’ll find protein because that’s easiest. Simple take your bodyweight and set your daily protein intake equal to that in grams. So, in our example, that would be 200 grams per day.
Next, you need to find how many grams of fat to eat per day. Since fat is not that important for building muscle, you’ll want to keep it around 25% of your total daily intake. So, to find that, you multiply how many calories you’re eating per day by 25%; then divide that number by 9 (since fat has 9 calories per gram).
2,860 calories x 25% = 715 calories
715 calories / 9 = ~80 grams of fat per day
Lastly, we need to find your carb intake. Carbs are important for fueling your workouts and helping build muscle, so you’re going to be eating a good amount.
To find how many carbs you need to eat on a daily basis, take your protein and multiply it by 4 calories per gram, plus your fat multiplied by 9 calories per gram; then subtract that number from your total calories, and divide the remaining number by 4 calories per gram to get your carbs.
(200 grams protein x 4) + (80 grams fat x 9) = 1,520
2,860 – 1,520 = 1,340 calories remaining
1,340 / 4 = 335 grams of carbs per day
So, your macros would look like this each day:
Tracking your progress is very important to see if these numbers are working for you. You want to aim to gain weight at a rate of 0.5-1% each week. Any more than that, and you’ll want to decrease your intake; more than that, increase your intake. So weigh yourself daily, and keep an eye on the week over week average.