The bulking phase is quite common at this time of year, especially in the world of the gym. It’s marked, above all, by changes in diet and training routines.
It’s common to hear the phrase “eat, eat and eat more”.
But will bulking be truly healthy or is it a waste of time?
Are you doing everything right to get the best results from your effort or is there something you can correct or avoid?
In this article, I will list some of the most common mistakes to avoid during bulk season in order to achieve the desired results.
The most common mistakes during bulk season
This is a phase where your calorie intake should be higher than usual, so you gain weight. A weight that should come from an increase in muscle mass.
The increase in calorie intake will depend on each person and their metabolism.
But this phase isn’t just about calories. Diet and exercise are essential, but there are some things within these categories (and not only) that you may be doing wrong and that may be compromising your effort!
Discover the main mistakes below!
1. Make a ‘dirty’ bulk diet
In a bulk diet we should ingest more calories than we need daily to maintain our weight and to keep our body functioning normally.
To know the amount of calories that you should consume daily, there are applications or other methods like the Harris-Benedict method that can help you!
It allows you to calculate your basal metabolic rate (the minimum amount of energy that the body needs to function at rest) using the following formula:
Men: 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5.0 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Women: 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)
Once you’ve determined your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), multiply it by your level of physical activity:
BMR x 1.2 – little or no exercise
BMR x 1.375 – light exercise (1-3 days per week)
BMR x 1.55 – moderate exercise (3-5 days per week)
BMR x 1.725 – intense exercise (6-7 days per week)
BMR x 1.9 – very intense exercise, professional exercise or physically demanding professional activity (training twice daily)
Using this value as a reference, add calories (usually 500 calories is used as a reference value) for muscle mass gains.
Attention! Every body is a body and the reactions are different. A person who has more difficulties to gain weight may need more calories!
But the question is: how should this increase in calories be made? Is it worth to do ‘dirty’ bulking instead of ‘clean’ bulking for the best results in this phase?
In the first case, the goal is to gain weight as fast as possible, no matter how. Although it may be the fastest way to gain weight, it has disadvantages.
As “anything goes”, the likelihood of accumulating fat will be higher, which will force you to do more cardio training (something that can also compromise your muscle mass) and lose more time in the gym … sometimes unnecessarily.
For example, you can increase your abdominal perimeter through the accumulation of visceral fat (the closest to the organs and more dangerous). See how you can lose abdominal fat!
Do you really want this result?
Or do you prefer to do clean bulking, where you increase your calorie intake with healthy foods that are suitable for your goal and allow you to achieve the same results in the medium to long term, but more effectively (and probably with less accumulation of fat)?
Be patient! Do you remember the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare? Who won this race?
See some tips for a clean diet during this phase!
2. Cardio: not doing it or doing it too much
As the goal is to gain muscle mass, will you leave the cardio for later? Well, it shouldn’t be that way.
In addition to all its benefits, it helps to accelerate the metabolism, to burn calories and to control the accumulation of fat in your body, something you can gain during this phase.
On the other hand, doing too much cardio can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and even to a decrease in the energy that you need for your bodybuilding workouts.
Therefore, do cardio but don’t overdo it. A HIIT training is also a good idea. It’s fast and intense!
3. Not resting appropriately / Overtraining
Imagine that you’re working for hours and hours without stopping. What happens next? You’ll need some rest.
When you exercise, the same thing happens … after the workout, your body needs to rest. Otherwise, you’ll be overtraining, something that happens when you don’t give your body the time to rest.
According to Laurel T Mackinnon:
“Overtraining is a process of excessive exercise training that may, if left unchecked, lead to a condition termed ‘overtraining syndrome’.”
Although this problem is more common among high competition athletes, rest after training is essential for everyone because it’s during this period that the body builds muscles and recover.
If you don’t rest, you’ll be in a constant state of catabolism (degeneration of muscle tissue).
According to the article “Overtraining Syndrome”, some of the most common symptoms of this syndrome are:
- Loss of motivation
Other symptoms can be anxiety, weight loss, lack of concentration and muscle pains.
So, train with intensity, but let the body recover (rest time between trainings can vary between 24h and 72h and depends on several factors).
Use moments when you can sleep or be with your family and friends to relax and to recover faster.
The secret is not always to exercise, but to rest.
4. Eating less than necessary
If you want to build a dream house you need to have enough bricks and quality material to build it. If you don’t have these, it will be difficult to do it … The same goes for your body!
If you don’t ingest the calories and nutrients needed to increase muscle mass, it will be difficult to achieve your goal of “growing”.
Lack of appetite, lack of time or fear of fat accumulation can lead to eating less than necessary.
The first two can lead to skipping meals or reducing quantities. Your body needs to receive fuel through the correct nutrients throughout the day to be able to function properly.
Proteins are fundamental for building muscle and carbohydrates are important to keep your body energized. You must consume them throughout the day!
Fats are also important in this process. They help you to absorb nutrients, give you energy and maintain a normal hormonal function!
On the other hand, if the problem is excessive fat accumulation, one thing that’s important to know is that increasing your calorie intake can be scary (especially for those who have a defined body) but this can’t be a threat!
In order to increase muscle mass, you need to eat more and increase the number of calories, review macro percentages, and have the energy needed to build that body (even if your body changes).
In the cutting phase, the excess fat that you may accumulate during the bulking phase will disappear. And in the bulking phase the fat accumulation will be lower if you opt for a clean diet!
So remember, ingest calories in a healthy way and build the body you’ve always wanted!
5. Not having patience
Sometimes the body can play tricks and may take longer to react to the stimuli it receives, but if you’re patient, determined and well-accompanied by a personal trainer and other professionals, you’ll see that you’ll achieve results faster than you thought you would.
Hurry and perfection rarely give results.
Remember: sacrifice = glory
As you can see, these mistakes can be detrimental to your goal, but fortunately they are easy to overcome and to avoid!
Invest in a diet that’s as healthy and controlled as possible, do cardio without overdoing it, have patience and rest and, over time, you will grow and see the results appear!