Building muscle requires a calorie surplus, where you are consuming more calories than you are burning. This is more commonly known as “bulking”.
One of the most common questions around bulking is whether your body composition changes for the worse, resulting in weight gain and six-pack loss.
This article takes a deep delve into the bulking process and some key changes to look out for!
What is Bulking?
Bulking is a nutritional strategy that involves consuming more calories than you burn. As muscle gain requires this extra energy to grow and develop your muscles, it’s one of the key principles of increasing muscle mass!
However, remaining in a calorie surplus for a prolonged period will inevitably lead to weight gain and an excess of body fat. So, the main goal among bulkers is to minimize fat gain as much as possible, while optimizing muscle gain.
Bulking can lead to improved performance in the gym, as well as increases in strength and muscle mass. Men may also notice an increase in testosterone levels, which would further enhance muscle gain.
There are two common ways to bulk:
Dirty bulk: this is usually the more common method, as it is the easiest approach to consuming more calories. This method involves simply eating whatever you want with no restrictions on any food. Typically, this strategy focuses on more calorie-dense foods that are easy to consume.
While this approach is easier and seems to be the simplest way of gaining weight and muscle mass, the downsides far outweigh this. It can be very difficult to lose the fat after a dirty bulking phase, requiring a longer, more extreme “cutting” phase.
Clean bulk: a clean bulk focuses on creating a minor calorie surplus to avoid excess weight gain. This approach focuses more on healthier foods that are more nourishing and beneficial than highly processed foods.
Clean bulking would result in a much more sustainable method of gaining weight, though it would take far more discipline and a longer commitment to the process.
While both of these methods have their pros and cons, whichever approach an individual decides would largely depend on their body type and muscle gain goals.
Bulking and Fat Gain: How to Avoid It
One of the major downsides to a bulking phase is fat gain. While this can be minimized when taking a clean bulking approach, it may still be inevitable.
The best way to avoid excess weight gain is to plan your bulking phase, giving yourself plenty of time to make meaningful body composition changes while minimizing fat gain.
Tracking progress is also absolutely key to this method. Taking progress photos, tracking body weight, and taking body measurements are all ways in which you can ensure you are on the right track with your bulking phase.
Using these tracking results, you can then determine whether you need to make amendments to your plan to ensure you are avoiding fat gain to the best of your ability.
Do you lose abs when bulking? The simple answer is: probably.
Though the extent of this largely depends on the individual and their body type. While some may find it very easy to put on weight and hold on to fat, others may find it easier to remain lean.
However, it’s important to remember that your abs will not vanish completely, they just may not be visible for a while throughout your bulking phase.
The trade-off is better performance and an increase in muscle mass and strength. There will be plenty of opportunities to work hard to see your abs again when it comes to your cutting phase!
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