Subj: How I gained 30 pounds with dirty bulking.
When I started bulking my goal was to add as much muscle mass as possible onto my frame in the shortest amount of time.
I gained 30 pounds over a 4 month bulking phase – A significant amount of weight, I jumped from 200 pounds to 230 pounds.
Sounds great right?
It would have been great if I was 230 pounds cut and dry but in reality I was pretty fat.
Not super fat like Shaumu or a blimp but I was definitely thick and on the verge of pudgy.
Bulking is your friend when you want to put on as much muscle mass as possible in a short period of time. But how you bulk should depend on your goals, body type and training routine.
What is Bulking?
Simply put, bulking is adding on mass. This mass could be muscle or fat. Usually the intent of bulking is to add muscle mass. So when people say they want to bulk up, this means that they want to add some muscle.
The only way to bulk is to eat more than normal. If you want to gain weight you must eat more then you currently are.
You should also weight train to turn those extra calories into muscle. You need to eat enough calories to have energy for your workouts and to recover from your workouts.
A calorie surplus is required to gain weight. That means eating more calories than you burn. The trick is you want to burn a lot of calories with hard workouts, so you must eat and eat and eat to keep up.
You bulk to add mass and size quickly. Athletes do it in the off season to put their bodies in a calorie surplus. Bulking allows your body to replenish nutrients and fat stores easily. The trade off for being easy is the added body fat, too much of which can have the opposite effect of being healthy.
Bulking is typically followed by a cut phase, or cutting, when you lose the fat put on during your bulk but keep the muscle. Cutting requires nutrition adjustments.
How to Bulk Up
There are two types of people in this world, “Easy Gainers” and “Hardgainers”. Depending on which one you are you’ll take a different bulking approach.
Easy gainers gain weight easily. They are usually big eaters by nature. Many ‘big boned’ people are easy gainers. They usually have big appetites and have no problem chowing down and gaining weight (muscle and fat).
Hard gainers struggle to gain weight.
These guys usually have an Ectomorph body type (Thin with very little muscle and body fat).
Hardgainers have trouble putting on weight for several reasons. If you’re young, active, a light eater, and have a fast metabolism and want to bulk up, you need to try dirty bulking.
Clean Bulking & Dirty Bulking
There are two ways to Bulk for the wannabe weight gainer – You can Clean Bulk or Dirty Bulk:
Clean Bulking (A.K.A. Lean Gains)
Clean Bulking is a way to make lean muscle gains without adding fat.
Clean Bulking requires you to consume all natural, quality, lean, preservative free foods. You eat ‘clean’, avoiding excess fats, oils and sweets.
You eat just enough calories to completely recover from your workouts and just a little extra to ensure you’re in a small calorie surplus each day.
How do you know if you’re in a calorie surplus? The best way is to keep a food journal and track your workouts. Track your workouts to know your activity level (the more activity the more calories you will burn). And track your macros (calories) to know how much you are eating.
Now, weigh yourself on the scale everyday and write down your weight. If you’re losing weight you need to eat more. Same if you’re not gaining weight after a few days. If you start to get too fat for your liking, dial back your food intake.
This diet avoids fast food, simple sugar, and refined carbohydrates. This requires a lot of fresh meats, eggs, and dairy products. Think chicken, beef, beans, green vegetables and potatoes.
Clean Bulking requires a lot of disciple. I’ve had my best results and physique improvements while clean bulking. I used meal prep to make sure I had the right amount of food around at all times.
If you’re in your 25 years old+ then I would use a little more discretion with your diet. Your metabolism slows down and typically you lifestyle is less active. Clean bulking is the way to go. Clean bulking might take a little more time because of the thought and planning involved to avoid bad foods.
Dirty Bulking is for gaining weight. Period. Weight gained while dirty bulking will be muscle and fat.
Dirty bulking has only one rule:
Eat anything you want, as often as you want, as much as you want.
Dirty bulking is most acceptable for the Hardgainer.
Here’s what you do:
Train hard in the gym and eat like a pig.
If you see food you eat it. Donuts, pie, cake, crackers, pudding – it doesn’t matter just eat. For 30 days, if you see food, put it in your face. Eat cottage cheese, steaks, chicken and pork loin. Lobster, crab, duck, turrle soup. Just eat everything and you will grow.
But that’s the reality kids – bulking up isn’t always pretty. Dirty bulking is especially ugly. While dirty bulking is the easy way to gain weight fast, it’s not for everyone. It’s best suited for hardgainers.
What’s it like to Bulk up? – My Bulking Story
I’m a hard gainer. I had to make an effort to gain weight. It took discipline and often times I have to force myself to eat food. I didn’t begrudgedely force myself to the point of puking or where eating was unenjoyable. If I thought of something I wanted to eat then I ate it without restraint to my satisfaction.
I ate pizza, nachos, and drank pop and beer. The more fat and sugar, the better. I did however make sure I was getting enough protein and quality foods. I would eat at least 2 ‘square’ meals a day with fresh meats and veggies. I’d also have a portion shake after each workout.
I ate a lot. After my morning workout I’d have a big breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee. I’d eat a decent sized lunch and a big dinner when I got home.
Snacks on snacks on snacks
Snacking often helped me put on weight. I snacked on nuts, protein bars, and random snacks that people brought into the office. I had cookies, brownies, cake, and various there sweets a few times a week. Pop and beer were common with dinner or just because. At one point I was eating chips and dip in bed and drinking beer while watching T.V. I was determined to gain some weight. For better or worse.
It didn’t matter what it was. I ate it. When it was meal time, I ate until I was full and ate a little bit more. I drank beer and wine in the evening if I felt like it. Ice cream and snack where very common.
My Workouts while Bulking
I hit the weights, 3-5 times a week. Each day I did at least 2-3 heavy barbell lifts. Squat once a week, deadlifts, weighted dips and weighted pull ups.
Worked out in the morning half of this time. It was a great experience waking up early and killing it in the gym to start my day. I put on some serious mass even though I worked out on an empty stomach.
I ate a big breakfast after my workout and had lunch (usually sandwiches or left overs from dinner the night before) and a big dinner. Snacks were eaten all throughout the day and at night before bed.
I weighed about 200 in this picture to the left, below. This picture was taken in Mid November. Notice my awesome goatee. I participated (the best I could) in No Shave November.
This was a bad idea because I looked like a used car salesman at best and, as one dude stated that I looked like “a terrible Christian Bale”. Whatever. I toughed it out and made it through the entire month of November with scraggly pubes on my face (Go, Me).
Anyway, I digress. Back to the point –
The second photo of me was taken 16 weeks later in March. I weighed 230.
So What Happened When I bulked up?
I added mass almost everywhere. My legs, butt, back, waist and shoulders were noticeably larger. My pants got tight. The same pants I’m wearing in pic #1 I wore when I was 230. They fit very snug when I was 230 and became very close to being uncomfortable tight.
My close friends commented on my size. My girlfriend didn’t say I looked fat or anything like that so I was still doing OK aesthetically, I guess.
At work people noticed I was larger. Several of my colleges commented on my shoulders being thicker and broader. One guy even came up and asked if I was putting on weight for some sort of competition (I don’t talk about lifting or bodybuilding at work so I knew my size increase was apparent).
My doctor physically flinched when he looked at my weight compared to my last weigh in. 200 pounds to 230 pounds between routine check-ups 6 months apart. The previous years I’be been between 190-205. This lead to a few curious questions about what I was doing differently. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t “stuffing myself with twinkles”. I wasn’t. I prefer oatmeal creme pies.
In the Gym:
I got stronger, but – I attribute the strength gain more to the weight lifting routine rather than my weight increase. I was lifting lower reps and higher weight. My upper body and lower body strength did increase. My bench was about the same as when I did intermittent fasting so I do not believe that bulking contributes to strength gain.
Is Bulking Worth it?
- If you’re going for sheer size, then by all means eat dirty and lift hard.
- If you want to add muscle and stay trim. Take the clean approach and eat a lot of healthy food.
Although I put on some muscle I got kind of fat. And because I’m not putting on weight to be tight end in the NFL, I won’t bulk like this again.
The muscle gains I did make stayed for the most part. My back and shoulders maintained most of my gains when I cut back 15 pounds from 230 – 215. I still have a ring of fat around my waste running below my belly button. But that’s nothing 4 weeks of intermittent fasting and some lifting can’t fix.
Next time I want to add some muscle I will take a different approach. I’ll be a little more disciple and use discretion with my diet. I could have built the same amount of muscle without the added fat if I have bulked cleaner.
Key Learnings from My Bulking Experiment
It’s quicker and easier to add body fat than muscle. That is clear in the photos. Although I was able to add the maximum amount of muscle during this time (due to being in a calorie surplus constantly) I gained a much larger amount of fat then I did muscle.
If you’re trying to look your best, the adding and inch around your shoulder but two inches around your waste isn’t the way to do it.
My advice is to eat clean and lift hard and you’ll grow. No need to pack on all that weight (mostly fat) that fast only to have to work to shed it all off again. You’re better off training hard and eating clean for the best results.
Are you trying to bulk up? Here are some things that will help:
- I recommend getting some quality protein and a blender bottle to make your life easier.
- Check out my shopping list for strategies by good food without breaking the bank.
Have you tried bulking? Let me know how it went in the comments below! Also, if you’re new to this and want some advice, just let me know if I can help you out.
How to Bulk Up using 3 simple Techniques and tips
GOMAD diet. Drink a Gallon of Milk A Day. You’ll probably put on some fat but if you’re a skinny guy you can afford to put on some fat. Plus if you’re hitting the weights hard enough you’ll put on way more muscle than fat.
Ginger Ale and Heavy Creme. Drink a mixture of ginger ale and heavy creme twice a day.
See-Food Diet. If you see food you eat it.
Crackers and bagels. Grab a box of crackers or a bag of bagels and take them with you everywhere. always be munching on them at school, home or work. Use these tactics and you’ll bulk up without problems.
Down and Dirty Dirty Bulking Tips for Hardgainers:
Take bagels and peanut butter with you everywhere. Eat a bagel with a generous slathering of peanut butter between each meal.
Muscles need calories to grow so you need to eat enough to build muscle and keep the muscle once you have it. Just eat, Pete.
All bulking programs need protein shakes. Protein shakes are an easy way to get quality extra calories.