Ah, the winter winds, the spring thaw. For the aspiring bodybuilder, they can mean only one thing. It's the season to get BIG.
Chances are, if you’re even considering entering into a bulking phase, you’ve already got your training regimen pretty much dialed in. Your work output is increasing gradually but steadily; your splits are fine-tuned; your intensity is on point. If you're doing any extravagant cardio, you're already cutting back on that now.
The real challenge is going to present itself in eating more. A lot more. And making every calorie count so as to ensure that a significant proportion of your added mass is muscle, not fat.
Calculate Your Real Caloric Needs and Fine-Tune Your Macros
How much more will you be eating? Well, to start with, about 10% to 20% more. To find out your total daily caloric needs, seek out one of the many Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculators online and enter in your information.
The TDEE calculator will output an optimum daily number of calories you should be consuming to stay about where you are right now, physique-wise. Eat less, you'll lose weight. Eat more, you'll gain weight.
Let's say your TDEE calculator spits out a number like 3,000 calories per day to maintain the status quo. That means that you're going to have to add from 300 to 600 calories per day to start growing. Seems easy, right?
Well, no. Because they can't just be any calories. They have to conform to your macronutrient ratios, and they have to be high-quality calories. A good benchmark for macros is 45% carbs / 35% protein / 20% healthy fats. Generally speaking each gram of carbs corresponds to about 4 calories, protein also 4, and more calorie-dense fats provide 9 calories.
So, doing a little math, we find that 45% of 3,300 calories is 1,485 calories or 371 grams of carbs. Thirty-five percent of 3,300 is 1,155 calories or 288 grams of protein. And finally 20% of 3,300 is 660 calories or 73 grams of healthy fats.
How hard could that be? Well, a typical 5-oz chicken breast provides about 30 grams of protein and two grams of fat. Five ounces of broccoli provide 10 grams of carbs. So as you can see, you've got some eating to do.
And keep in mind, that 3,300 calorie figure is your starting point. You're going to be stepping on the scale 3 to 4 times a week and watching for weight gain. Quality weight gain. If it's not there, you're going to have to step up your caloric intake again.
This is where so many people looking to add muscle mass fail. They simply underestimate the sheer number of calories they need to consume daily to grow.
You've got to pre-prepare meals and have them always ready to go. You've go to eat six or seven meals spaced out through the day to consistently maintain a caloric surplus. You've got to track your macros, being smart about protein, carbs, and fats.
This is where a high-quality dietary supplement or two (or three) can come to your rescue. Let's take a look at a few.
Supercharge Your Growth With a Superior-Quality Mass Builder
Here at ProSource, we talk all the time about how important protein -- whether from whole food sources or from the highest-quality whey protein supplement formulas -- is for support of a highly active lifestyle, peak physique and overall wellness. Our own flagship protein NytroWhey Ultra Elite is at the absolute scientific vanguard here in terms of ingredient quality and processing. We're justly proud of it.
We realize sometimes though, that some of our readers aren't quite clear about the difference between a protein formula and a mass builder. Yes, a whey protein formula is essential to building and maintaining lean muscle mass. But a mass builder is something different. Think of a protein formula -- the best ones, anyway -- as a highly specific, precision-targeted infusion of nutrition. A snack, if you will, that muscles thrive on. A mass builder, on the other hand, is a banquet. It's a wider spectrum of nutrients with a special purpose and best used at a very specific time.
After a strenuous workout, your muscles have been ravaged and are crying out for fuel, your glycogen stores have been depleted, and protein synthesis is declining precipitously. MyoZene from BioQuest addresses each of these dire situations with the help of a number of highly advanced technologies.
MyoZene's protein component is perfectly suited to your increased bulking-phase requirements. It is comprised of a blend of highly specialized hydrolyzed whey rich in essential di- and tri-peptides for ultra-rapid absorption into the muscle, and also fortified with an advanced leucine peptide technology to enhance muscle protein synthesis.
Just as importantly for those looking to add significant lean muscle bulk, MyoZene contains an advanced carbohydrate matrix designed to raise blood glucose levels, potentiating insulin release, which in turn plays a key role in skeletal muscle protein synthesis by activating ribosomal activity and growth initiation factors within skeletal muscle.
Finally, to ensure that MyoZene is your one-stop shop for post-workout muscle growth, MyoZene contains creatine monohydrate for cell volumization and strength support, taurine and glutamine for recovery support, and L-carnitine L-tartrate for additional hormonal support.
How well do all these components work together? Spectacularly well, according to the results of a landmark brand-specific clinical study presented at the prestigious American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference (1 Lou, Feldman, et al). This independently conducted research study found that after 28 days of MyoZene supplementation in conjunction with a bodybuilding training regimen, subjects experienced a 24% increase in muscular endurance mid-way through the study and a 32% increase after one month of training. Crucially for people engaged in serious bulking up, subjects also experienced a notable reduction in body fat as well. MyoZene clearly is a powerful tool in your bulking-phase toolbox.
Feed the Beast with a Potent and Calorie-Dense Mass-Gain Muscle-Support Formula
As we said above, when it comes to bulking up, calories are the name of the game. But not just any calories. Typical "hard-gainer" or "mass gainer" formulas on the market are notorious for being dumping grounds for manufacturers' least nutritionally useful ingredients -- poorly processed ion-exchange whey, absolutely inert protein fractions, and lots and lots of simple sugars.
After-Mass from ProSource contains an ample amount of calories alright -- 310 per serving. But those calories derive from a nutritional profile engineered to fuel growing muscle tissue over both the short and long term.
The 25 grams per serving of cutting-edge tri-phasic protein complex in After-Mass is composed of hydrolyzed whey to support protein synthesis in the immediate aftermath of your workout, while whey protein concentrate and hydrolyzed casein provide an extended flow of aminos to keep your muscles in a growth-favorable state.
After Mass also contains 48 grams of precision-targeted, high-glycemic carbs that will restore glycogen reserves depleted during exercise, raise blood glucose levels and potentiate insulin release for improved nutrient delivery to muscles, and support the secretion of insulin-like growth factors. Additional glutamine, leucine, taurine and other key aminos enhance recovery and growth as well. That's a lot of nutrition in one affordably priced mass-gain supplement!
Facilitate Digestion and Nutrient Utilization with a Super-Complete Daily Multi
It's all very well to task your body with assimilating lots of extra caloric content, but you have to give your body the tools it needs to absorb and utilize all that extra nutrition.
At any given moment, your bodily systems are executing countless tiny mitochondrial transactions aimed at shoring up metabolism, organ health, muscle growth and overall wellness. These physiological actions are dependent on dozens of trace minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins that are not always abundant in your diet, if they're present at all.
If you're looking to radically transform your physique, now is not the time to reach for a generic grocery-shelf daily multi. ProSource's Super MegaMax is designed specifically with the athlete and highly active person in mind. It contains a complete spectrum of essential nutrients formulated from the highest-quality sources and provided in dosages specifically intended to support and fuel your unique dietary requirements.
In addition to a full complement of vitamins and minerals, Super MegaMax provides vital nutrients for optimized cardiovascular health, key co-factors for hormonal support, powerful botanicals for optimized free radical protection, and highly bioactive forms of immune-supporting vitamins C and D.
To support the kinds of high-intensity exercise you engage in, Super MegaMax also contains joint health support compounds MSM, calcium and boron, plus NAC, CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid for cellular energy production, as well as trace minerals for hydration and muscle endurance support.
Bulking up can be stressful! Ease the burden with a wide-spectrum, super-comprehensive daily multi like Super MegaMax.
Support Strength and Muscle Volumization with the World's Best Creatine
Finally, no physique enhancement program would be complete without the proven strength-building power of pure creatine monohydrate.
ProSource Creatine Monohydrate is 100% Creapure® sourced from Alzchem of Germany, the world leader in superior creatine manufacturing. Creapure's ultra-pure, micro-crystallized creatine monohydrate provides the muscle volume and strength-increase results that will convert ramped-up caloric intake into dramatic new mass. For creatine monohydrate, athletes everywhere know they can trust ProSource for the world's purest, most potent form.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Now that you've got your calorie intake ramped up and elevated in overall quality, you really need to put all that fuel to work. As we've said, your training regimen should already be fine-tuned, high-volume, and driven by max intensity. Don't be afraid to change things up to shock your muscles into growth, but keep your overall work output at optimum levels.
Ease off the cardio. Research backs the notion that trying to combine resistance training with significant amounts of cardio exercise creates an interference effect in which each type of exercise undercuts the body's metabolic response to the other. If you must indulge in cardio, stick to one or two sessions per week and stay away from steady-state, growth-dampening pursuits like distance running or circuit training. Try some sprints or swimming short, high-intensity lengths in the pool instead.
Tinker with your caloric volume and macros. Weigh yourself 3 or 4 times a week to see how you're progressing and adjust your consumption appropriately. Unless you're starting at absolute zero in terms of muscle mass, growth should be slow but steady -- about .25% to .5% of your body weight per week. To put your expectations in perspective, only about one pound of that will be new muscle tissue. Mass gain is a long game.
Finally, get adequate rest. Real growth is impossible unless you give your body and your muscles the rest they need to repair and recover. Okay now. Ready? Go grow!
1 From "An Open Label Clinical Trial Evaluating the Effects of MyoZene with Resistance Training on Changes in Body Muscle Strength." Lidia Lou, MS, Samantha Feldman MS, RD, William Chong BS, Douglas Kalman PhD, RD, FACN, Diane R. Krieger, MD. May 2008. Presented at the 2008 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN.
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The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.