The period of intermission between Summer and Fall is over. Most beloved by Pumpkin Spice latte connoisseurs everywhere, it lasts from the September Equinox to December Solstice.
We are now well into October. The obvious signs are already here for those who have ventured outside.
The coats are coming out of the closet again and with that, more miserable faces are being worn as well.
Trees seem to hold the true key to this time of the year. The transformation from a homogeneous set of green to a wide array of colors signifies a need for change in other aspects of our life as well.
One of these is the gym. Now is the time a lot of lifters embark upon a bulk. This is when the aim is to put on size, in the form of muscle mass.
If you are still unsure whether you should be bulking, here are the reasons you should be right now:
1) You Are Not as Big as You Think
Let’s be honest, we all enjoy the times when we look big.
After finishing an intense workout we all take pleasure in our post workout-mirror gains. The increase in vascularity and the fullness of the muscles is fantastic .
Those pumps after a heavy feed of carbohydrates should be cherished and they feel amazing. It may be the case you have a favourite shirt which fits your arms perfectly. When wearing it, you may feel unstoppable.
The truth is you may not be as big as you think.
You may only choose to look in the mirror when at your best. Gaze into the mirror when depleted and you may not like how you look just so much.
It is tempting to stay in a state of maintenance because we all get complacent. There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain a certain physique but for those who want more, you need to be bulking now.
2) You Are Lean Enough to Bulk
Starting a bulk from sub 15% body fat is a great place to begin.
This is because at this level of body fat you are more inclined to gain a greater proportion of weight from muscle rather from fat.
As some fat gain is expected regardless, being relatively lean to begin with ensures you do not finish up excessively overweight. Having too much fat is never a good thing nor is being too lean (10-15% is the sweet spot for men).
If you find yourself in the position of being overweight, cutting down for some time before trying to bulk is advised.
If you have been in a calorie deficit for some time then your glycogen stores are likely depleted. This means you will benefit from an increase in calories even more so.
Glycogen supercompensation will have the effect of storing more glycogen in the muscles to be used for fuel in the gym. This will also make you appear bigger and fuller coming off the back of a cut.
The perfect environment for gaining lean, quality muscle will be created for you to thrive in.
3) No One Cares About Abs as Much
Summer is finished for another year and with that the good weather is as well. People go out less and even less so to pool parties or the beach.
The need to be topless is much more infrequent. Sure, get lean and mean for the Summer but now that it’s over is there really a need to be sub 10% body fat?
There likely isn’t unless you are preparing for a show or are planning to star in a movie.
If you fall outside this small group of people then the time to bulk is now.
You have a free pass to get a bit more fluffy.
Don’t worry it isn’t a goodbye to your abs, but merely a see you later.
4) Jumpers Are in Fashion
Take full advantage of the fact people are swapping their tank tops for jumpers.
The aesthetics of each is entirely different. For a tank top or vest, you want a leaner look as more skin is on show.
Jumpers on the other hand, cover up the whole upper body. They can make a seasoned lifter appear like he doesn’t even lift.
To look good with a jumper during the colder months, don’t be afraid of gaining a few extra pounds (of mostly muscle hopefully).
If you are looking for some great style tips, visit Well Built Style. I have not talked about the importance of style before on Rise and Claim but it should not be ignored.
This isn’t a licence to go ahead and lose all shape to your physique. You should try to keep yourself respectable at all times, no matter what season it may be.
5) Going to the Gym Is More Fun
A bulk requires you to eat in a calorie surplus. This means you should be eating more calories than you burn during the day.
This will ideally lead to a slow and steady gain in weight over the months.
A calorie is simply a unit of measurement for the energy content in food and drink. Therefore we will have excess energy throughout a bulk to be utilized for our benefit inside the gym.
This is a time where considerable strength gains can occur. You will be able to handle more volume during your workouts. Your ability to recover between workouts will also be improved.
This means you can make a large amount of progress in a short time frame. All of this when executed correctly, will transfer into new muscle growth.
Normally the hard work during a bulk is realized when you cut body fat again to show your newly found gains. Without this period of eating big and lifting big, we would continue to look the same year on year. It is a necessary part of the life cycle of a lifter.
For untrained beginners who are new to lifting, a greater calorie surplus can be used. This should be an extra 500 calories every day to make the most of this period.
If you have been going to the gym consistently for over 1 and a half years then a lean bulk will be more beneficial. This should nearer to a 300 calorie surplus.
A lot of muscle can be gained during the early years of lifting. As you become more experienced the rate of muscle growth roughly halves for every year of training.
With this decrease in returns on muscle growth, the need for a large calorie surplus becomes less necessary. Doing so will only lead to an unnecessary fat gain without any more muscle to go along with it.
The result being you will need to spend even more time cutting in a calorie deficit than if you had of taken a less “aggressive” approach to your bulk.
A 500 calorie surplus would only recommended for somebody who is not already overweight to begin with. If you are a beginner to working out and hold a lot of fat, gains in size and strength can still be made while eating at a calorie maintenance.
A slight deficit can even be effective for those who hold large amounts of fat. This is because all of this extra fat is a form of stored energy which can be utilized for training purposes.
6) It Is OK to Put on Some Fat
Depending on what circles you are in, this may be news to you. Staying very lean all year round is not a viable option for most people.
Sure there are some who can get lean effortlessly and stay that way. We all knew a guy in high school with a “skinny pack” without even trying.
Most likely you were not that guy. I certainly wasn’t and I am fine with that.
We all are born with advantages and disadvantages. Thus is the nature of life.
Trying to stay super lean for extensive periods of time isn’t recommended for health. It will lead to a drop in energy levels, reduced libido and increased in mood swings.
You may feel good when looking in the mirror but for the rest of the day you will feel like trash.
Most physique competitors spend multiple months getting to single digit body fats levels for one day. Whether that be for a photo shoot or show. Even pro athletes in the NBA or NFL need a break after the season ends.
Gaining a few pounds on holiday is acceptable once all the hard work is over. This down time is a must before they prepare to do it all over again.
A much needed physical and also mental break.
How to Not Get Fat Bulking
Here are some great tips from Omar Isuf on not getting Fat while bulking:
Thanks for reading,
P.S Leave a comment down below to let me know what you think.