Do you need to bulk to gain muscle?
We all know that guy at the gym who “let himself go” they pack some size but a lot of it looks like fluff and who claims that all the gains are from eating an entire pizza every night.
Remembering how fit he was, people start asking… “what happened to you” and their prepared response is “i’m bulking right now” or “ my cut doesn't start until spring”.
Is all of this just an excuse to slack off?
On the flip side..
Is the effort to eat as much as possible waist ...if you could end up in the same place with a better approach?
From the scientific literature we know it is possible to actually gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.
The amount will be slightly less than if you were in a calorie surplus. This finding is not an outlier, but it's quite common primarily in three population, younger, or untrained lifter with less muscle mass and perhaps more body fat, de-trained lifters, so people who trained but stopped, and those who are genetically sensitive to gaining muscle in a caloric surplus.
It’s recommended to be in a surplus... but the surplus doesn't need to be that extreme.
Current research converges on three main recommendations...
The first one is trained to maximize hypertrophy, so make sure you're getting 10-plus sets per muscle group per week at different loads and intensities to maximize weekly volume while recovering and progressing week-to-week.
Second, eat about 200- 500 calories above your typical maintenance level and modify that based on body weight training age and you're starting body composition.
And finally, maintain a minimum amount of protein consumption of at least 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight, but usually heavier more muscled individuals should air on the higher side of higher protein.
For most people even these organizations are overkill. For most of us training consistently, moving through the day, and eating a balanced diet will dramatically improve body composition by reducing fat and putting on muscle.
If your goal is to gain as much muscle as possible in as little time as possible and then losing as much fat as possible for the beach season, you’re going to have to put on some fat mass as well.
But that's like putting off studying for the test and cramming at the last moment.
You can do it that way but it causes unnecessary stress.
It's rarely a case that we’re really pressed for time, just plan ahead, stay consistent.
“I’m bulking” is not an excuse to ignore your nutrition.
If you want to learn more, consider working with a HYBRID Nutrition Coach one-on-one to help you to build habits that will enable you to have success with your nutrition.