Written By Luke Douglas / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
In a time when many of us are doing their best to lose excess weight, others are trying to pack on mass and build muscles. If you fall into the second category, this is not an easy feat, especially if you are on the skinnier side.
To gain muscle weight, your body needs the right kind of fuel. This is why it’s important that you avoid the trap of “dirty’ bulking” - building body fat along with muscles - and instead focus on building muscle mass in a way that won’t have a negative impact on your overall health. Below are five ways hardgainers can bulk up without leaving their health in ruins.
Increase your calories
A caloric surplus is an essential part of building mass. As a hardgainer, you need as many calories as you can get, so boosting your caloric intake is a must. Generally speaking, you will need 2,000 to 3,000 additional calories each week to gain one pound of muscles, and even more if you make multiple visits to the gym throughout the week.
That said, not all calories are created equal, and it’s important that you eat the right kind of foods so that you don’t end up putting on body fat.
Avoid eating foods that contain too much fat, and instead, focus on eating healthy bulking foods such as eggs, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds. Ideally, you should be aiming for a 40/30/30 percentage (proteins-carbs-fats).
Up your protein intake
Other than helping you build muscles, the foods you take should also aid in repairing them, and this is where protein comes into play. Protein is a vital nutrient your body needs to repair muscle tissue tears as well as to contract muscles when carbohydrates and fats can’t do it.
Dairy, fish, lean meat, and eggs are all great sources of protein. If you’re plant-based, focus on eating more nuts, seeds, lentils, spirulina, and especially soy as it contains all the essential amino acids.
Add a protein source to every meal, and consider taking muscle growth supplements to complement protein consumption. Creatine supplementation is especially effective in boosting muscle growth and strength during workouts whereas protein helps with muscle repair after a workout.
Since they work in different ways, it is important that you treat creatine not as a replacement for protein but rather as a complementary add-on.
Keep your cheat meals healthy
While bulking up and going from skinny to fit does involve upping your caloric intake and eating more of certain types of foods, it also comes with a couple of restrictions of its own. That said, cheat meals are allowed, and when consumed properly, they can even aid your bodybuilding journey and increase your muscular gains.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should be piling up on fast food and sugars all the time. Remember, you’re trying to lean bulk and build quality weight here, so it’s important that the majority of your daily caloric intake comes from high-quality, nutritious, and low-fat foods.
Allow yourself to enjoy some bacon, cake, and cheese from time to time, but try to keep your cheat meals as healthy as possible.
Cut back on cardio
Cardio workouts are, without a doubt, one of the best ways to stay in shape and boost your overall health and wellness. That said, cardiovascular exercises also burn a lot of calories. Since you’re trying to gain weight here and not lose it, you want to hold onto those calories you take in, so it’s best that you reduce your cardio and switch things up a bit.
Instead of resistance training, try cycling for a change. This is a much better fit when it comes to meeting your fitness goals, and you’ll still be building your muscles.
Make sure to engage different muscle groups
Allocating time for recovery is essential when trying to bulk up and build muscle mass. Whether you’re lifting weights or focusing on resistance training, it’s important that you allow your muscles to heal up and rest - especially if you’re just starting out - and train different muscle groups each time.
Start by focusing on hands, shoulders, and triceps during day one. Then, move on to calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes on the second day. The third day should be reserved for back, abs, and biceps. Remember to take one or two rest days so that you don’t get too tired. Not only will this give you enough energy and strength to perform the next day, but it’ll also prevent injuries.
The skinny to fit rollercoaster is both an exciting and exhausting ride. Although it can feel demanding, if you keep in mind these couple of initial steps, you’ll set yourself up for a successful lean bulk transformation.
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Luke Douglas is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at the blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015143056445https://twitter.com/mrlukeidouglas
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.