Believe me, I know. Bulking is more complicated than it looks.
The concept of bulking sounds fun: eat all day and lift heavy till you gain muscle! However, it isn't so easy.
I'm sure some of my readers are hard gainers, meaning no matter how much they eat, it seems impossible to put any meat on their bones. Rest assured, Six Pack Center has you covered with everything you need to know to change that.
Bulking is an all-encompassing phase of lifting; simply put, it's more than just eating a crap ton of food. It's lifting heavy, getting in all your nutrients to maximize muscle growth, and sleeping like a hibernating bear for recovery.
One piece of the equation left neglected can be the difference between turning into the next CBum or remaining stuck in the same place you started.
Here at Six Pack Center, we understand life gets busy. Every waking moment can't be devoted to the gym and your fitness journey, or you'd have no life!
That's why we encourage using supplements to fill in the gaps. For those who are having a hard time bulking, here's our list of the 5 best bulking supplements to build muscle quickly.
First and foremost, protein powder is a no-brainer. Protein is the most essential macronutrient for building muscle, so it makes plenty of sense that you should be taking protein powder to ensure you meet your daily goals.
Recent studies have found the optimal amount of protein intake to be at 0.82 grams per pound of body weight or 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you have trouble meeting this, protein powder is the perfect supplement for you.
If you aren't yet convinced, protein powder consumption is linked to significant increases in muscle synthesis, meaning those who take this supplement build more muscle than those who don't.
So, what is the best protein powder for bulking? It depends on your individual needs.
Buying the right protein powder for you is about finding a balance between price and the concentrate used. Unless you are lactose intolerant, I recommend a whey protein powder for the best results.
Mass gainer does exactly what the name implies: it helps you put on some serious mass. It comes in powder form, similar to protein powder.
One serving of Mass Gainer from Optimum Nutrition, a popular supplement brand, contains 1,250 calories! To put that into perspective, that is half of my daily allowance of calories.
For people who want to bulk but struggle to put on weight, this is the solution to all your problems. With sufficient protein content and carbs to fuel your grueling workouts, you can take on your workouts feeling great and put on weight much easier than before.
However, I do want to caution you. With mass gainers being so calorically dense, it have the potential to cause digestion issues.
My recommendation is to try bulking with whole foods and protein powder. If that extra muscle you're chasing still evades you, then you should give mass gainers a shot.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in your body's muscles. While we produce it, creatine can also be consumed through red meat, like steak, and various forms of seafood.
The problem is that our natural level of production and consumption of creatine doesn't lend itself to our maximum potential for muscle-building. This is where creatine, as a supplement, comes into play.
Creatine helps with muscle contractions, so the more creatine, the better (to an extent). It is utilized as energy when lifting, helping to power through intense movements.
Various studies, like this study on creatine supplementation, have affirmed the belief that supplementing naturally occurring creatine helps enhance the strength and hypertrophy benefits of training. Exactly what we want when bulking!
The preferred form of creatine supplementation is creatine monohydrate. You take a week-long loading phase, then pull back to 5g of creatine a day for maximum benefit.
A pre-workout is great for two things: energy and a gnarly pump.
Let's not kid ourselves: we don't wake up every day ecstatic to go to the gym. Sure, some days we look forward to it, but not always.
Pre-workout provides the extra jolt you need to get back on your game and crush your workout. Most pre-workouts possess a hefty caffeine content to power you through your lifts.
The other ingredients that many workouts contain are vasodilators, more specifically L-arginine and L-citrulline. The role of these substances is to increase blood flow, leading to a pump during your workout.
You may be wondering, "What are the tangible benefits?" Besides more energy and seemingly "full" muscles, is there any evidence to back up a pre-workout for bulking?
A study performed in 2010 found that taking a pre-workout before the gym led to increased training volume and increased lean muscle mass. What's not to like?
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. In simple terms, BCAAs are the amino acids that make up a good bit of your muscles.
Here's the catch: your body doesn't produce these amino acids like leucine and valine. The only way to get an adequate amount of these proteins is through food and supplements.
Whole foods like beef, chicken, eggs, and the like have BCAAs. Essentially, your protein sources are where you get the bulk of your BCAAs.
When you can't get enough of these amino acids from food, supplementation may be a good idea.
BCAAs are responsible for providing energy during workouts and helping your muscles recover after the fact. During bulking (anytime, really), how your muscles recover is paramount to getting stronger and building bigger muscles.
When you're looking for BCAA supplements, you want to see the three following amino acids in the ingredient list: