How bulking may be ruining your gains!!!


Part 1


Over the years the bodybuilding industry has helped many people achieve great things with their physiques. These people are now leaner, stronger, fitter and more confident.  However one thing that still hinderspeoples progress, in my opinion (and the opinion of many experts) is the notion off the ‘offseason’ bulking regime. For many, this is a major step backwards in achieving your dream physique



For years the battle of building muscle (and it is a battle for the most of us) has been a nutrition issue.  It would make sense that to lose weight you have to put in less calories than you require for any particular day, and to gain weight you put in more. However we need to remember that weight gain isn’t the goal here, building quality lean muscle is!


So while stuffing your face and gaining weight in your ‘bulk season’ you may think you’re heading the right way. Telling yourself that because your favourite bodybuilder ‘bulks’ so should you be…but stop a minute and ask yourself this question;


Are you really moving towards the physique that you set out to achieve when you picked up your first dumbbell/barbell?


I am guessing the majority will answer NO! I am sure many of you (myself included) are guilty of thinking in the ways mentioned above and packing on the timber (in the wrong areas) but feeling good & telling yourself ‘bigger is better’. But you need to know that ‘bulking’ this way is never going to help achieve the results of being bigger, stronger, faster &leaner in the long term!



On a personal note I have learnt through making these mistakes and having the ‘big bulk’ mind set where large weight fluctuations were a standard part of my ‘off season’ phase. Yet in more recent years I have had the most success in the offseason when staying around the 10% body fat mark & following a far more structured plan for the following reasons;



1. I feel good all year round


2. I look good all year round


3, Dieting for a show is easier


4, No massive swings in strength or energy, particularly during the diet phase.


5. And most importantly ….I am healthy!



Another question to consider when you bulk in this way


“what’s the point of training 5-6 times per week, eating 6-8 times per day, spending all that money, time and effort in the gym to end up looking like a  fat slob for 9 months of the year?”


And don’t be guilty of fooling yourself that your gains are all good quality coz when it comes to your dieting phase there’s no fooling anyone!  You will have to go to extreme measures to get the fat off, sacrificing any muscle tissue that you did manage to put on, and end up looking like a smaller fatter version of yourself.  I HAVE BEEN THERE, DONE IT, GOT THE T-SHIRT!!


Don’t get me wrong there are some bodybuilders/physique athletes out there that can adhere to a different set of rules but they are few and far between and usually genetically superior to us mere mortals.


So what makes them better at this bulking game than we are? The secret is testosterone. Whether its artificial or a higher than normal natural production. Whichever the case testosterone is the key!


So what is bulking and how does it affect testosterone?


Let’s just confirm what bulking is. Basically consuming more calories than your body is burning off on a day to day basis as mentioned at the start of the article. But… and here’s where the difference lies… there’s a fine line between consuming just slightly over what is needed to gain lean muscle and going crazy, filling your face with excessive amounts. However the line is so slight and you really have to know what you’re doing to achieve results this way. Also this method is short lived and is only really ideal (but not optimal) for extremely naturally lean body types. (MORE ON THIS LATER IN THE ARTICLE.)



Now while everyone is chowing down the protein to help meet their calorific goals, the number 1 calorie increasing macro for most is carbohydrates. It’s relatively cheap, easy to get hold of, most of the time tastes good and for the body metabolically the easiest nutrient to break down. (Many of you will have experienced the effects of this. For example after eating a large plate of rice, initially you experience a huge lift in energy but then followed by a massive drop and you probably want to go to sleep. The spike and swings in energy all has to do with another hormone called insulin, more on insulin later…back to bulking)

So why does incorrect bulking negatively affect your ability to pack on thepounds of lean muscle? Well it all has to do with a very unproductive cycle that you put yourself in if you choose to go down the path of being a fatty in the offseason.


Being a fatty in the offseason increases the number of muscle building enemies that we have, and if your serious about packing of the muscle tissue you’ll want to keep these as few as possible.  So lets focus on the 2 biggest enemies, Bodyfat and insulin


Testosterone Vs bodyfat


As you begin to consume more and more calories from the carbohydrate version, you unavoidably begin to store more and more bodyfat. There is no escaping this fact. Although you are feeding the muscles, you’re also feeding the fat cells. As your fat cells grow out of control your testosterone levels begin to diminish,and therefore your body becomes less ableto repair and build muscles from the workouts.


Why would testosterone fall when fat cells increase? The link is another hormone called aromatase. Put simply this is released from fat cells and binds to any free testosterone that may be left over floating around your system rendering it useless.  So more fat cells equals more aromatase equals less testosterone. Not good!


Your body becomes hormonally more like a female(there may even be some physical signs suchas man boobs) from the increase in body fat and decrease in testosterone. Estrogen levels rise, and you wont be able to build as much muscle leading to your insulin health declining. You become less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance) and therefore your body will store more carbohydratesas fat rather than using it to feed the muscles. A vicious cycle to become locked in…


The more fat you gain the less testosterone you produce, the less muscle you gain/maintain and the more resistant you become to insulin the bigger the fat cells become!


So by constantly raising your insulin levels 5-6time perday with a continuous supply of carbohydrate meals you begin to store fat like its nobodies business. Your body starts to morph into a rounder, softer less muscular version of yourself.


So now you realise why testosterone is such an essential part of building a lean muscular physique and is key to being able to burn body fat, there is no other magic pill, formula or artificial drug that can maintain a healthy bodyfat level like testosterone.


Other key advantages of keeping a healthy level of testosterone are that it lowers depression, lowers risk of heart disease & can lower the risk of certain cancers.


So how do we help the body to produce more testosterone?


From the above you can now see that simply lowering your body fat levels can help you produce more testosterone resulting in more muscle amongst the other benefits that I have described. But what else can we do to increase muscle mass without stuffing our face full at every meal and running the risk of getting fat.


There are ways to naturally enhance your testosterone and build more muscle, it just requires a little bit of pre-planning, restructuring your meals and a few added supplements to help get you back on track!



Keep a lookout for part two of this article to learn some of the tips and tricks to burn fat and build muscle.



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