What is bulking?
In essence, bulking is a phase in which a bodybuilder trains to a high intensity, limits cardiovascular training and increases calorie intake with the aim of facilitating muscle growth. Because the bodybuilder is within a calorie surplus environment some fat gains are usually accepted, but how much fat gain is deemed acceptable depends on the bodybuilder.
To further explain periodisation, the other phase bodybuilders usually undertake is known as cutting. As you may have guessed, this is the opposite to bulking, and involves a calorie restrictive environment, cardiovascular training to spur on fat loss and weight training aimed at maintaining muscle mass whilst the fat is being stripped away.
What is lean bulking?
Lean bulking may mean different things to different people.
For some, lean bulking means following a bulking phase which also limits unnecessary fat gain. This is opposed to the so called “dirty bulking” which describes bulking without a regard for fat gain and often an abundance of junk food. In this sense, what we describe in this article as bulking, and the subsequent sample meal plan, is lean bulking. The point of bulking is to facilitate an environment which is optimal for muscle gain, and this can be achieved without the need to notably increase fat levels which will just have to be reduced at a later date.
The other possible meaning of lean bulking is the belief of being able to increase muscle bulk whilst keeping fat levels abnormally low, or even reduce them from their current levels. This may be possible – mainly for beginners who will find this dual approach possible from sound training and a sensible diet alone, or by bodybuilders who take performance drugs – but for many intermediate to advanced trainers this will not be the case.
Generous serving of oats with skimmed milk
350ml of cooked egg whites
Tbsp of flaxseed oil
Fruit juice or hot beverage
200g of tinned tuna
150g long grain brown rice
Generous serving of mixed veg
Large baked potato
Item of fruit
Serving of a protein blend product or lean steak
150g wholemeal pasta
Mixed nuts and seeds
30 minutes before training 20g of whey protein in water
40g of whey protein with 50g of dextrose or maltodextrin
200g of cooked salmon
250g sweet potato
Serving of veg
Tub of cottage cheese or serving of protein blend
Serving of oats with skimmed milk
This meal plan is merely a guide and it should be tailored for your specific needs, tastes and preferences. It is also recommended to vary the foods you consume each day to ensure you consume a variety of nutrients.
After a few weeks of following the diet, assess your progress. If you are gaining muscle mass whilst maintaining a good level of condition keep the meal plan in place. If, however, you are not gaining enough weight you may want to look to increase the calories, or inversely decrease the calories if you are gaining too much body fat.
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