For the past 2 months or so, I decided to put my ego aside and do something that nobody who is still riding the high of losing 80+ pounds really wants to do.
Namely, I’ve been eating at a caloric surplus on a daily basis in hopes to put on some weight this winter. I’ve also been following This Lifting Program that encourages not only an increase in strength, but also one in size.
I finally put my money where my mouth is (plus a butt ton of food) and went on a bulk.
I’m not a body builder, I’m not a man trapped in a girl’s body, and I don’t have any aspiration to star in muscle fetish pornography. I’m just an average girl, trying to become a better powerlifter, and quite frankly trying to have the best body that I can possibly attain through the fruits of my labor.
So What Exactly is a Bulk Anyway?
In the loosest of laymen’s terms, a bulk is when you purposely consume more calories you burn in conjunction with a strength training program in order to try and put on muscle mass.
In the process, however, one does put on fat. It’s a fact of life, especially for women, that it’s hard to build muscle no matter what steps we take to do so. Eating the right things at the right time, training the proper way, and adequate recovery are just the pillars of getting shapely sexy muscles. Our bodies also create fat out of those excess calories, and although most of us will “recomp” a little during these bulking periods, there is still some fat gain involved.
Why Did I Decide to Go on a Bulk?
When I was a teenager I thrived on having eating disorders. At my lowest weight, I was 5’6 and weighed 109 pounds. Looking back on pictures – I looked like hell. I also looked like hell when I weighed 210 pounds. And in both states of my body, I felt like hell.
Since I’ve engulfed myself in all things lifting heavy, I’ve realized my only chance in life to have a “curvy” figure without being seriously overweight is to have a little muscle mass. I’ve also realized that bigger muscles = bigger lifts, which means it gives me an advantage in my sport to build some.
So do you just eat whatever you feel like?
In an ideal world, no.
You still need to track your calories, macros, and meals in general to optimize the results of a bulk, plus be conscience of how much you’re burning when you’re doing any type of training.
Did I always adhere to these principals?
I spent the week of Christmas working through an ugly gluten hangover, I’ve dabbled in things like spaghettios and top ramen on more than one occasion, and please nobody nark me out about Aaron’s missing box of toaster strudels (trust me, they have been long gone.)
I have also realized (for like the millionth time in my life) that crappy food makes me feel like crap.
So it’s back to shoveling down the good stuff.
To fill my caloric void, I eat an extra egg here and there, an avocado every day, some extra nuts, full fat dairy, sweet potatoes. I eat rice and quinoa and white potatoes too sometimes. I’ve upped my carbs, and it actually feels nice. I snack a lot. I keep it as clean as possible, try not to binge, but when bad stuff smuggles its way into my life, I enjoy every bit of it.
What are Some Challenges you have had during your Bulking Process?
Mentally, it’s been difficult for a plethora of reasons.
First, as I mentioned above, relaxing your healthy lifestyle can lead to eating things you otherwise wouldn’t, and enjoying them a little too much. Once I start, it’s hard for me to stop.
Another thing about bulking – you eat all these extra calories and train hard in hopes that it all goes to your butt. Or other body part of choice. Unfortunately, it also goes to your stomach, calves, face, and basically every other body part that you don’t want to be “thick.” I know in my mind that I will only need to “cut” for a short time period to get rid of all the extra squish, but every day I battle with the urge to start doing that NOW. I have to remind myself that these next three weeks could make a huge difference in my physique as a whole if I just stay the course.
One final challenge is the fact that I am trying to build my personal training business in the near future. Something that looms over me is the fact that a lot of people navigate to trainers who have a body that they would like to have. They don’t think about bulk and cut, they think on a more superficial level (as they should) in that – can I trust this person to deliver the results that I want. I know that I by no means have blown up or even gone up a clothing size, but when you physically feel bigger, you mentally start to imagine yourself in a different light.
I guess what it all boils down to is getting the most out of your training in relation to your goals.
If you’re lifting because it’s fun and you just plain enjoy it and you are happy with the results you’re getting, I don’t think you should dramatically change your diet or program.
If you want more, though, it’s worth investing your time into researching how you can improve, be it through trying a different program, changing your diet, or in my case, wearing leggings a little more often because my jeans are a little more muffin toppy than I care to admit.
Anything that brings you one step closer to your ultimate goal is worth pushing through the discomfort that comes as a result. It’s those times of discomfort where we GROW, be it in the form of our muscles or our minds.
Has anyone else been using the winter as a chance to bulk? If not, is it something you would consider doing?
I’m excited to see the overall results of my experiment. I’m already seeing incredible results in my lifts, and even a little more development in my upper body. These keep me motivated to put my ego aside and forge ahead.