Often skinny guys and those who class themselves as hardgainers decide that a bulk up phase is the best option to pack on some muscles. Even though bulking up is for professional bodybuilders, this article is designed for skinny guys looking to gain muscle mass.
It would be appropriate to mention that many fitness models and professionals are in favour of maintaining a lean body all year round rather than going through bulk up and cutting phases. It would take longer to see the results but it’s arguably the wiser option for those with limited experience at the gym.
If you are still determined to put your body through the demands of a bulk up phase, then read on. The basic principal of bulking up is to increase your daily calories (from protein and carbs) intake and lift heavier weights with low reps.
Bulk up: Increase your calories
Talk about stating the obvious but if you want to bulk up your physique, you need to up your calories intake a notch (or two). It’s estimated that the average male needs about 2,500 calories a day. Your body uses these calories to fuel your daily activities and body functions.
Refer to Gain weight – diet basics for skinny guys to calculate your calories needs.
Get your calories from lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Avoid processed and fast foods. Your favourite takeaway and burger places may be loaded with calories but they aren’t going to help you put on muscle mass.
Divide your calories into 5-6 small meals. Leave a 2-3 hour gap between meals to give your system chance to digest the food.
Bulk up: Reduce the isolation exercises
If you are just starting out and looking to bulk up your muscle size, you should stay away from isolation exercises. Fitness experts recommend compound exercises for building muscle mass.
Do three full-body workouts per week consisting of squats, chest press, dips, barbell curls etc. Stick to heavy weights and low reps. Don’t spend the whole day in the gym over exercising. Train hard for 45-60 minutes a day, take your post-workout meal and rest.
Bulk up: Rest
Many guys (skinny or not) underestimate the importance of resting. Remember that your muscles grow whilst you rest not during your workout. Make sure you leave plenty of rest time between workouts if you want to bulk up.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep either. The lack of sleep and too much stress in the day are best avoided. The reason being is Cortisol. It’s a catabolic hormone, produced by your body, which draws the essential nutrients from your muscles affecting their growth.
During deep sleep, our bodies produce an anabolic growth hormone. It aids muscle repair and growth.
“Better safe than sorry”
Be mindful of your limits (especially if you are a beginner) and always have a spotter when lifting heavy weights. Listen to your body. If it struggles with the weight you are trying to lift, then lower it and try again. Be safe and stay away from injuries.
Photography credit: Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden – United States Army, Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons