In case you missed it, here’s the link to part one of my How To Gain 6kg Of Lean Muscle in 6 Months series.
You gotta read that first! Go go go!
So to recap, we’re talking about a long term periodisation based program. We’ve covered the strength phase, and as I mentioned I was eating about 1000 calories above my maintenance levels.
A bit more about “bulking”.
What I mean by “1000 calories above maintenance” is, I did the maths and worked out the theoretical amount of calories required to stay at THE SAME weight based on my age, height, gender and level of activity, and then added 1000 calories to that. Of course, when you eat above maintenance, you’re going to put on weight! But I’m determined to put on as much muscle and as little fat as possible, so as I said in part 1, it’s not just an excuse to pig out on junk. I tend to be quite meticulous in my planning, so I built a meal plan based on a minimum of 40% of calories from protein, with calories from carbs and fats about even at around 30% each.
This is usually known as a “clean bulk” which translates to something like “excess calories but from nutritious foods”.
Bulking stage 2; not so clean bulk!
I think to be successful at any goal in life you need to have a plan or a strategy or whatever you want to call it. And you have to stick to it consistently. But at the same time, if you are wise you’ll pay close attention to the results you’re getting along the way, and review, fine tune, modify or adapt your strategy as seems necessary.
So as it turned out I was quite surprised how slowly I gained weight at 1000 cals above (theoretical) maintenance. Having said that, I was also pleasantly surprised with how little fat I had put on. So what do you do? Don’t be one of these people who insists “well, this SHOULD be working so I’m just going to keep doing it even though it isn’t”, like a stick in the mud! Rather than this I decided to increase by another 500 calories.
What happened next is that winter hit. Now, you might know that I was working on the door of a pub at this time. And it got COLD! So, I had to keep warm, right? Drinking hot chocolates is a good way to keep warm! And since I’m trying to put on weight anyway, can I get another one? And actually, can you make it in a pint glass for me? Thanks mate!
Also there may have been regular trips to the kebab shop down the road for a serve of hot chips with hummus and cheese! So, while my meal PLANNING was always meticulous, the execution was not always so precise!
Just so we are perfectly clear I do not advocate or recommend “dirty bulking”, BUT what I do recommend is monitoring your progress. In my case, I seemed to be getting away with the hot chocolates and hot chips at the pub despite how many calories (and the source of those calories, mainly sugars, carbs and saturated fats) they were throwing my meal plan off by. I still wasn’t putting on much fat.
Why not? Well… perhaps my body was using a lot of those calories to stay warm (hey, shivering takes energy!), but since I was doing ZERO CARDIO at this time the most likely explanation is the simplest. My workouts were pretty damn full on, doing the Progressive Power Program and throwing around (with very good technique of course) amounts of weight that I wouldn’t have even looked at a year earlier. So, my body was utilising the majority of these extra calories for energy and recovery.
So at some point in time I was satisfied that I’d gone as far as I could with the Progressive Power Program and it was time to go on to the Next Level… which is what I named the follow up program. Again the details of the program are elsewhere in the blog, but to summarise it was all about lifting weights with a rep range suitable to promoting maximum muscle hypertrophy. There’s more to it than that but no need to go into it here. Of course, having increased my strength so much on the previous program, I was able to use a lot more weight in those higher rep ranges than ever before.
Oooh I’m still not finished! On we go with Part 3 of this series.