A lot of people believe that the only way to get muscular is to bulk up and eat a LOT of food daily, and when they finally hit their weight goal, they can begin “cutting phase” and lose all that fat to look vascular and ripped. I suppose that came from watching professional bodybuilders, who have “off-season” periods when they are bulky and bloated, and contest periods, when they are shredded to the bone.
But many don’t understand that they do this because human body cannot physically stay at 3-4% body fat for long periods of time – you suffer from exhaustion, random head-aches, easy bruising, nosebleeds and dozens of other not so pleasant things (prone to disease being one of them). That’s why those bodybuilders bulk up again and get “fat”. Only few bodybuilders actually stay lean all year round, gaining few percent of fat after contests, but still looking solid and ripped. Oh, and we can’t really forget the drugs they use in abnormal quantities.
In reality, you can gain muscles and lose weight at the same time. And you can stay lean all year round without straining yourself much (if we are talking about 7-9% body fat). Proper diet is the key to this. You must eat 6 well-balanced meals (with enough protein!) throughout the day and eat 10% less than your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). To calculate your nutritional needs, refer to one of our previous articles – “How much should you eat as a bodybuilder?”
So what are the benefits of bulking up in “traditional” way?
- It’s good for very skinny people, who are embarrassed by their current looks. You can gain several kilograms fast enough and re-gain your confidence. And then gradually (not drastically!) improve the diet, so you can continue to gain weight, but with less and less fat, and eventually start losing fat and gaining pure muscle.
- Perfect for weight-lifters who do not need to be lean at all, especially in the heaviest weight categories. Actually fat cells store more intra-cellular fluids which make you stronger. That explains why some of the strongest men on the planet are fat.
- It’s quite easy and not very demanding, until you get to the cutting phase.
That’s pretty much it.
But what are the benefits of gaining lean muscle and losing fat at the same time?
- When you gained good amount of muscle, you will look great all year round. There are no ups and downs.
- It’s far healthier and less stressful for your body to eat well all the time, compared to eating like a pig in “off-season” (which might be autumn-winter for non-competing bodybuilders) and then starving yourself when it’s time to show off your results.
- You will have more confidence, because you are always at your peak and you continue to improve every month. So if someone asks to show your abs, you will gladly do that, without excuses like “Ugh, I’m off season now” (which means absolutely nothing for those who are not involved in bodybuilding, by the way).
- It’s perfect for those who are already overweight or slightly overweight (which is 2/3 of America anyways). You will start to transform rapidly with this method.
And of course list of down sides will be bigger for bulking up and much smaller for gaining lean muscle and losing fat at the same time. But we will not discuss the downsides in this article.
Hopefully, by now you realized that bulking up method is not that good for normal people (not professional bodybuilders) and from now on you will choose a proper way and do everything right from the start.