Subscribe to the NWA Newsletter Here
D to the deadlift,
B to bench press day,
Fo shizzle my nizzle I lift hard every dizzay…
– Hova (probably)
Happy Friday, Coach J here from Anyman Fitness – and welcome to the latest edition of The N.W.A. Newsletter.
Each Friday’s N.W.A. Newsletter will have 3 parts:
- A Nutritional Tip to help make your diet healthier and easier to stick to.
- A Workout Tip to help make your training sessions more effective and fun.
- An Attitude/Mindset tip to help you strengthen your greatest asset – your mental toughness.
I will also give you my single favorite piece of social media content from AF over the past week and link to it on either Instagram or Twitter.
Without any further ado… let’s get started, shall we?
For today’s edition of the N.W.A. Newsletter, we’re talking all things BULKING.
The Fall is frequently the time to up the calories, increase the training frequency and work on gaining lean body mass.
As such, I’m going to fill you in on the best ways to gain actual, REAL muscle if you’re a natural trainee.
I’ve been able to put 25-30 pounds of solid mass onto my frame over my lifting career, and I’d like to tell you exactly how it’s done…
N.W.A. (Bulking) Nutrition Tip Of The Week:
When you’re bulking, you’re intentionally trying to gain muscle mass.
As such, you need to eat over your maintenance calories while you’re doing it.
Muscle can’t just materialize from nowhere – you need to be sure you’re getting adequate fuel to make gains.
But you can’t just have an eating free-for-all… for a few reasons…
The most amount of muscle a natural male trainee can look to gain in a month’s time is around 2 pounds, tops.
And about half of that for women.
As such, this is how you want to set your diet up.
Men, you want to aim for 0.5 – 1 pound of weight gain per week, on average.
Women, you want to aim for half of that – 0.25 – 0.5 pounds of weight gain per week, on average.
This is NOT a lot of food…
For the guys, it equates to 200-300 calories over your daily maintenance.
For women, it’s 100-150 calories over maintenance.
One of the worst things you can do as a natural is to “dirty bulk” – and eat everything in sight.
You CANNOT “force” muscle to be built by eating like a horse.
If you do this, you will gain fat much too quickly, and you’ll need to turn around and start dieting too soon.
You want to be sure you’re lean and healthy before you start bulking, too.
Men, you want to be under 15% body fat – and under 10% is even better.
If you have visible abs (even if they’re blurry), you’re in a great spot to start bulking.
If you don’t, skip the bulking and stick to dieting to get rid of your excess body fat.
Women, you want to be under 25% body fat – and under 20% is even better.
Women might not have visible abs due to the fact that men carry more muscle mass than women (abs = muscles).
But you should have a lean and healthy physique before you want to start bulking.
Bulking is going to add body fat to your frame – there’s no way around it (unless you’re on steroids or testosterone).
Because of this, you want to be as lean as possible before you start.
When you’re lean, you’re insulin sensitive – and that’s what we want.
We WANT your body to secrete insulin and your body to respond properly.
Once men get to 20-25% body fat, and women get to 30-35% body fat, you start to become insulin resistant (and we don’t want that).
That’s the point where you need to scale it back and lose the extra fat.
Being lean when you begin is always the best idea when you’re starting a bulk.
Also, one of the WORST things you can do when bulking is to use intermittent fasting protocols.
Eating is anabolic – it helps grow muscle.
Eating frequently is the best way to ensure your body has a steady supply of food and nutrients to repair itself after training sessions.
3 meals per day works well.
4 meals per day, evenly spaced out, with at least 30 grams of protein and carbs each meal, is your best bet.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night snack is the best dietary set up to maximize your gains.
Many people think fasting increases growth hormone, so it makes sense to fast while bulking.
This is not true – an acute growth hormone spike won’t increase your muscle mass.
But eating frequently definitely will.
When you’re bulking, you need to track your calories closely.
It’s a bit trickier than dieting is.
When you’re dieting, you’re in a deficit.
If you mess up a bit, you’re (hopefully) still in a deficit, or at the worst, you’re at maintenance.
When you’re bulking, you’re already in a surplus.
Every additional calorie you eat will be stored as body fat.
It’s crucial to make sure you stick to your calorie targets while bulking, or you’ll just gain fat too quickly. (Trust me, I’ve been there before…)
Last but not least, you want to take your scale weight daily while bulking, and take the weekly averages and compare them to each other.
Your weight will bounce around a bit from all the extra food, so taking averages ensures you have the most accurate view of what your weight is doing.
Are your averages going up by the appropriate amount?
Awesome, continue course.
Are you under your weight gain targets?
Add 100 calories to each day’s numbers via carbs.
Are you over your weight gain targets?
Subtract 100 calories from each day’s number via carbs.
Bulking takes constant tinkering and a bit of finesse – it takes time and patience, but it’s always worth it to gain some real, appreciable muscle mass in the gym.
For both men AND women.
N.W.A. Training Tip Of The Week:
When you’re training during a bulk, you need to train like a BODYBUILDER, not a powerlifter.
As such, you shouldn’t be doing low volume, high intensity training.
Programs like Starting Strength, 5 x 5, 5-3-1, or Reverse Pyramid Training aren’t the way to go.
You want to train at least 4 days per week, and 5-6 if you can cut it, and you’re recovering properly.
The more frequently you lift, the more stimulus your body has to grow, so you need to give it all you’ve got.
You’re going to be training your MUSCLE, not “movements”.
Your goal isn’t to “move the bar through space” – your goal is to use the weight as a tool to create a proper growth response.
You need to show perfect form at all times.
Lower the weight and the ego if you need to.
You want to maximize the ‘mind-muscle connection’ and focus on every lift.
Before you start the lift, think to yourself, “what muscle am I trying to make bigger here?”
Put your muscle through the full range of motion.
Squeeze hard when you contract your muscle.
Keep repping until you can’t rep any further – and then rep some more! 🙂
You want to feel the burn as deeply as possible when you’re trying to add muscle to your frame.
Don’t skimp on dumbbells and machines, either.
Barbells are great, but if you’re only using barbells, you’re leaving gains on the table.
One of the best parts of using machines is they are much safer than using a barbell, or even a dumbbell.
You can go all the way to failure and beyond without needing a spotter, or risking injury.
And dumbbells are much more versatile, and easier on your joints than just using a barbell for everything.
N.W.A. Attitude/Mindset Tip Of The Week:
And now for the fun part… your mindset when bulking…
You need to be a f*cking ANIMAL in the gym.
You’re gaining bodyweight intentionally… and as such, if you’re not increasing your lifts each week, and going balls-to-the-wall, you’re only going to be gaining fat.
Every single training session, think to yourself, “I NEED to beat last week’s numbers, or I’m gaining nothing but fat – LET’S F*CKING GOOOOOOO!”
And give those weights absolute hell.
Truth be told, bulking is 10x harder than dieting is.
Anyone can stick to a diet and lose weight with a little bit of discipline.
But it takes some mental fortitude to pack on the pounds the right way.
Have patience when you’re bulking, too.
How much weight do you want to gain?
In general, less than half of the bodyweight you gain will be actual muscle.
Let’s say you put 40 pounds onto your frame over a year.
Of those 40 pounds, 8 or so pounds will be water weight, cellular glycogen, gut content, colon content, etc.
Now you’re left with 32 pounds of actual bodyweight.
Let’s assume you gained 15 pounds of muscle and 17 pounds of fat.
That would be a tremendous accomplishment in one year’s time for a natural trainee.
You then need to diet off the 17 pounds of body fat.
You’ll likely lose a few pounds of muscle while dieting; it happens if you’re natural.
So, you lose 3 pounds of muscle and the 17 pounds of body fat over a 4 month time frame.
Your net gain is an impressive 12 pounds of muscle.
You will look drastically different if you can accomplish this.
You’ll be much healthier and look way better at the same leanness level as you were before.
Not only that, but your metabolism will be higher than it was the last time you got down to that leanness level, since muscle burns more calories than fat does.
It’s a tough job to put on muscle.
Not everyone has the patience, or the commitment to do it.
But I can assure you, there’s no better feeling than realizing all of your hard work has been 100% worth it.
Need bulking help?
NOTHING can beat a personalized approach with full accountability with one of our experienced coaches.
If you’re ready to get SERIOUS about gaining muscle and losing fat, you can apply for a spot in our coaching program HERE.
One Favorite Social Media Post Of The Week:
A few weeks ago, I tweeted out a long thread about this very topic, complete with pictures of the gains I’ve made over the years.
Check it out here – and re-tweet it if you found this information useful, please. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Anyman Fitness N.W.A. Newsletter.
I’ll be back next week.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Read the N.W.A. Newsletter Archives
If bulking isn’t your thing, you could always get Kanye’s workout plan…. 4, and 3, and 2, and 1, and get those sit ups riiiiiight…. (NSFW – lyrics)