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Bringing in the Bulk

"Choosing a workout structure"
By: James BarramedaBringing in the Bulk

No matter how much you exercise, you won’t bulk up if you don’t have enough calories to build muscles from. Yes, that’s right! If you want to build bulk, you need to increase your caloric intake beyond what your body uses for energy in a day.The number of calories you’ll need will depend on many factors like your weight, age, gender and your current level of activity.

The type of calories you take in is also important in muscle building. For example, 100 calories from lean meat are different from 100 calories of ice cream. You’ll need to focus on taking in more calories that provide extra nutrients that help add muscle instead of calories your body will store as fat.

This computation will actually tell you how much calories from protein, fat, and carbs you should take in for a day. Here’s how to compute for each:

  • Get your daily caloric requirement. Let’s use our first example – 4,000 calories a day.
  • To get your daily protein requirement, convert each pound of your body weight into 1 gram of protein. So if you’re at 200 lbs., you need 200 grams of protein a day
  • To get your daily fat intake limit, convert each pound of your body weight into half a gram of fat. So if you’re at 200 lbs., your fat intake should be at 100 grams a day
  • Now here’s where the real math comes in – you need to convert the grams into calories so you know how much of your 4,000 calories per day should be devoted to protein and fat. 1 gram of protein = 4 calories while 1 gram of fat = 9 calories. So following our example above, you’ll need 800 calories of protein and 900 calories of fat per day.
  • To get your daily carbohydrate requirement, simply subtract your protein and fat calories from your total daily count. So from 4,000, subtract 800 and 900 respectively, you’re left with 2,300 calories for carbohydrates.To get the gram equivalent of your carb requirement, divide this number by 4 – this gives you 575 grams per day.

Lift weights…a lot of it!

According to University of Nebraska-Kearney exercise physiologist Dr. Jose Antonio, you may follow a three-phase approach in order to keep bulking up:

Phase 1

Your workouts should be organized into 3 periods – each period lasting about 4 to 6 weeks. The first period should focus on rapid muscle growth via progressing strength training workouts. This means you have to keep making your exercises more challenging with more reps and more weights.

Phase 2

Perform a strength cycle (i.e. exercises that emphasize on developing strength) as well as power lifting-type workouts using heavier weights. You’ll need the help of a trainer to teach you the different exercises, and most importantly, the safety rules that ensure you don’t injure yourself. Always have a person checking on you, called a “spotter” when you use maximal free weights.

Phase 3

Devote a few weeks to "cutting up"– this is the part where you try to lean-up so that you can see the muscles you’ve tried to build for several weeks now.

This phase can be done by lifting lighter weights, adding more cardio exercises and by following your diet more strictly. Do three sets of 12-15 reps and go from one exercise to the next without taking a rest.

Choosing a workout structure

Some experts say you need to start your workout with a few low-rep sets of multi-joint exercises first. Multi-joint exercises involve two or more sets of joints working for more than one muscle group at once. Since there are more muscle groups used, you tend to lift much more weight than with single-joint exercises. Some experts advise on starting with multi-joint exercises while your muscles are still fresh.

Take Supplements

Sometimes food cannot supply all the nutrient requirements you need to build muscle. Supplements in the form of protein powders and capsules can help fill in the gaps.Here are some of the most popular supplements that you can consider taking:

  • Whey protein powder – great source of protein
  • Casein protein – another source of protein
  • Creatine - increases energy supply in your muscles so you can lift heavier weights and do more reps
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)–specifically leucine, valine and isoleucine; needed for building and repairing muscle tissue.
  • Glutamine - increases supply of leucine in muscles, also helps prevent muscle breakdown


Rest and recuperation are just as important as your workout and diet routine. Having rest days during your training allows your muscles to rebuild so that you have more strength to face your next session. During rest periods, you can either still work out other muscle groups that you have not trained yet or followed a routine utilizing lighter weights, fewer reps and fewer sets.

Sometimes experimenting on yourself can also help you know more about how your body will react, just make sure you consult a professional fitness trainer first and always, always put the safety on top priority! 

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