A bulking cycle is a strategic period of weight gain that athletes and recreational gym-goers engage in to gain both muscle and strength.
If you’re curious about whether or not a bulking cycle is the right next move for you in your fitness journey, and if you’re curious about where to start, we sat down with bodybuilder Joe Mackey, for his tips on a successful, healthy bulking cycle.
Cardio might sound crazy at the time we’re discussing bulking but I enjoy keeping cardio in my routine all year long so that I’m putting on weight in a healthy way. I find that I like to start the day by getting in at least 20 minutes of cardio when I’m bulking, as a way to help kick start my metabolism so that I’m ready for a full day of eating ahead.
Just like we learned in elementary, breakfast is the first step to setting the tone right, especially when you’re trying to bulk up. When you’re bulking, it can be challenging to get enough calories and to spread your protein throughout the day, so having a meal at breakfast can help meet your nutrient goals.
For each meal including breakfast, I like to add in a good amount of carbs, proteins, good fats and also high antioxidant fruits such as berries and dried fruits. Measuring each meal is important even when you’re bulking because you have to be able to know what your macros are so you can increase or decrease things as you go.
- Example for Meals
- Meal 1 for breakfast: 1 cup of oatmeal. 6 large eggs and 1 cup of veggies cooked in olive oil, and 2 english muffins with avocado
- Meal 2: 1-2 cups brown rice, 1 cup veggies, 6oz of cooked chicken, and 1 small avocado
- Meal 3: 12 oz of red potatoes, 6-8 oz of lean grass fed beef, 1 cup of veggies, and 1/2 cup of pineapple
- Meal 4: Blend as a shake – 1 cup of oatmeal, 25 grams of ISO protein, , 1 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter, and enough milk, water or non-dairy milk to blend
Vitamins are very important in regards to bulking as well. Many vitamins and minerals are involved in metabolism. Make sure to eat a variety of foods and alter the types of vegetables and fruits in your diet. Adding a multivitamin may also be helpful
Training heavy goes hand and hand when it comes to bulking. I prefer to keep my reps between 6-8 reps and my first working set does not start until I reach a weight that’s challenging.
You can rest between 2-3 minutes when you’re lifting heavy. You want to push yourself to go heavy and also give yourself enough time to catch your breath and rest in between sets so you can have optimal performance on each set.
When you’re lifting heavy, focus on the muscle you’re working and make sure you’re activating the muscle and not just moving the weight. Mind muscle connection is very important so you can take your growth and bulking season to the next level.
INTRA WORKOUT NUTRITION
When I’m bulking I like to have intra workout nutrition while I’m training. It includes 5 grams of creatine, 5 grams of glutamine, and 40 grams of whey.
NOTE: Any supplement should be 3rd-party certified by NSF, Consumer Labs, or another reputable 3rd party lab. If the product is not 3rd-party certified, you don’t know what’s in the supplement, and some studies show that up to 50% of products on the market can be incorrectly labeled.
REST AND RECOVERY
If you’re bulking, listen to these steps above. Eat heavy, train hard, pay attention to your form and most importantly, make sure you’re resting and recovering. I like to do 3 days on, 1 day off throughout the week. Bulking should never consist of you training 7 days in a row.
Look forward to your rest day. You should need it because if you train when you’re too fatigued, you won’t be able to train hard enough to actually make progress.