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Bulking - You Are Doing It Wrong!

Learn How To Bulk CORRECTLY!

Posted by Scott_Herman - October 22nd, 2015

When it comes to bulking, there seems to be a general misconception that, for a certain period of time, you should be eating uncontrollably in order to gain muscle. People tend to relax during this period and lose track of their meal plans all in the name of “gains.”

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In order to grow muscle, you should, in fact, be in a caloric surplus but this process should be executed in a very methodical and controlled manner. When you are in a caloric surplus, or eating more calories than your body needs for its normal functions, you need to be strategic to ensure that the majority of the weight gain consists of muscle. You will inevitable gain some fat when bulking and, if you are not monitoring your bulk very closely, you will gain more fat than you should. When this happens, after each bulking cycle, you will have a harder time gaining muscle and a harder time losing the fat you gained. It’s a vicious cycle and you might be feeling awesome when you jump on the scale but you are actually sabotaging yourself!

If you are dirty bulking and gaining more fat than you should, here is what you are REALLY doing to your body:  

  1. More stored body fat = less testosterone = less gains!
    Stored body fat contains an enzyme called AROMATASE. This enzyme shifts the equilibrium of testosterone production converting more Testosterone into estrogen (the female hormone). This additional production of the female hormone makes it harder for you to gain muscle and causes you to store even more fat starting a snow ball effect. You have probably noticed that women naturally store more body fat and this is in big part because of estrogen. Since testosterone is key in maximizing muscle growth, you should stay away from anything that will interfere with its levels or worse yet, convert it into estrogen.

  2. More stored fat = lower insulin sensitivity = more fat!
    Insulin plays a key role in how much fat you store because when you eat carbs, the glucose causes your body to release insulin. These insulin spikes have a negative effect and cause fat burning in your body to stop. To minimize this issue, you want to promote high insulin sensitivity so your body releases less insulin when you eat carbs.  

    When you bulk and gain body fat, more specifically abdominal fat, you decrease your levels of adiponectin, a protein that promotes the elimination of excess fat in your tissues and improves insulin sensitivity. This become a vicious cycle where the more fat you  accumulate, the more insulin you release which, in turn, causes fat burning to stop.  

  3. Less stored body fat = better distribution of nutrients = easier time growing muscle!
    As you get leaner, you grow more muscle because your body gets better at nutrition partitioning. Nutrition partitioning is the process of how you direct the nutrients you consume and what you utilize as source of energy when you exercise. When you ingest nutrients, these can go to your muscles to help them grow or be directed towards storing fat. On the other side, when you burn calories, you can utilize stored fat as energy or muscle tissue as energy breaking down your hard earned muscles. When you get leaner, your body gets “directed” towards sending nutrients to the muscle tissue and towards utilizing fat as energy making it even easier for you to get even bigger and leaner. When you “dirty” bulk, you throw off this cycle causing you to work harder to achieve the same goal.

  4. Once you get more fat cells, they can get smaller but they don’t go away!
    Studies have shown that, as an adult, you can gain fat cells once you have acquired too much body fat. These fat cells tend to be stable and even if you lose significant amounts of weight, the cells will get smaller but not decrease in number. You can avoid this by controlling your bulk and preventing fat cells from increasing significantly in number.  

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These are just a few of the negative consequences of gaining excess fat and, in order to prevent these from taking place, here are some general guidelines on how to bulk properly:

  1. Your “growing muscle cycle” should be just as controlled as your cutting cycle. You should be counting your calories as you normally would when trying to lower body fat. Do not convince yourself that you can eat whatever you want in the name of muscle gain.  Your body has a limit as to how much muscle it can gain in a period of time. If the number on the scale is rapidly increasing, chances are, most of that is fat.

  2. You should be in a calorie surplus if you want to gain muscle and a general rule of thumb is to be above your daily maintenance calories by 250 to 500 calories depending on your current build.

  3. Your ratio of macros (protein, carbs and fat) is still critical. You should be eating lots of protein to support muscle growth, enough carbs to supply energy for your workouts and a controlled amount of fat to promote testosterone production.

  4. Eat quality foods. It is ok to treat yourself with your favorite foods every now and then but this should not be the norm! You should be eating wholesome foods with plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vitamins and minerals play a key role in nutrient absorption by your muscles, regulating testosterone levels and many other important processes.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what proper bulk means and the consequences of losing control. Don’t fall for the trap that eating junk is cool and that you can look big and shredded doing it! Unless you are one of the few people with the fast metabolism to support this lifestyle, you should be smart about what you feed your body.

Related Videos:

Are You Bulking Or Just Fat? (Natural Muscle Gain)

7 Muscle Building Mistakes Natural Lifters Make!

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Gain Muscle & Lose Fat at the Same Time!

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The Major Difference Makers

When it comes to the average person there are some exercises that I believe are more useful than others.  I’m going to list and...

O and thanks for your injury recovery excersise articles. I still have to read them. Because we tend to look after other people and not ourselves. Esp. Myofacsial release. Last 18h00  to 08h00 shift for me this weekend. Wish me luck. Hit the gym yesterday for legs and neck by the time i got out there i could at least get 3 and a half hours sleep before i had to clock in last night. Today i at least had the joy of buying my daughter a new bicycle the only problem now is to convince my 5 year old son the black and green apache is not a girls bike and that we bought it fo her ao he can take it over as soon as she needs to get bigger one. But now he refuses to ride at least i got myself some wrestling shoes and it won't feel like 'm sliding around on a scateboard.. now the only thing is to cut down on the coffee and the sugar that kept the engine runni since 2004.  Ps thank you for the fore arm and stronger grip articke I really need to fit that into my schedule.
Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@mildentdoc you're welcome man! Hope they help you stay injury free! Working a 14 hour shift must be exhausting, props to you for grinding through it though man, I know a lot of people will appreciate all the work that you do! So awesome to hear you've been able to spoil your daughter and yourself as well. Hard work pays off! And I'm sure your son will come around haha. Keep up the good work!


You really have a knack for explaining something very complicated very simply and understandably. Good research too i think my biggeSt problem the last 5 years has been running around in the the clinic in between the ER and booked patients and only eating once a day. And thank you from a medical view on hammering on the correct and not only the excersisse

Scott_Herman  Edit  Delete  Close

@mildentdoc I do try to keep it simple, simple and effective! 😊 It can be hard to eat enough when you're so busy and constantly running around. But you have to make time for it somewhere. Don't worry about WHEN you eat - just make sure you eat enough every day and every week!


Good article. I wish bulking was a problem for me. I can look at food the wrong way and pick up mass (not in a good way).


Nice read bro!


THE TRUTH!!! Nice one Scott.


Good Article Scott!


Nice article Scott!  Eating quality foods has definitely helped me a lot!  Good points!


another awesome article Scott and something good to learn too :)


I see people gaining weight by eating lost of food and protein shake, next they will gradually turn that weight into muscle. Or you some people who eat and gain at the same time they are lifting weights. This is confusing to alot of people espicially to beginners!


A summer body should be an everyday body.