The ever-popular bulking season is upon us where we allow ourselves to bulk up and add a little fat in order to maximize our muscle gains. After all, we are heading into the winter months where we can hide a little extra fat under extra layers of clothing while bulking. The problem about bulking is that the majority of people bulking are dirty bulking when they need to be clean bulking.
The different between clean bulking and dirty bulking is pretty simple. You are what you eat. If you allow yourself to eat everything under the sun, your diet is considered a dirty one and you will have to work that much harder to take the excess fat off when you enter your cutting phase. If you clean bulk, you will take in less bad fats and have less fat to deal with. Make no mistake about it though, bulking will lead to excess fat gains, but the difference is how much you have to deal with at a later date. Extended cutting periods will no doubt cut into muscle gains, so you want to keep these lengths of times to a minimum.
Let’s do a case study of a 200 lb. man looking to bulk. His goal is to add 15-18 lbs. of lean muscle mass in the next 6 months. While it may not sound like a lot of lean muscle to add, you really should be striving for 2-3 lbs. of lean muscle mass per month. Anything more, and it is probably fat being added. Besides simply measuring body fat, an easy indication to see if you are adding lean muscle mass is to make sure that you are breaking PRs as you put on weight. Even if you are not strength training, you will get stronger as you put more muscle on. You should be breaking PRs (check out our one rep max calculator). If not, you could just be putting on fat.
Clean Bulking by the Calories
This 200 lb. man knows that he needs an excess of 3,500 calories for each pound of lean muscle he is looking to add. To hit 3 lbs. per month, let’s average that out to a pound for every 10 days. Over those 10 days, he will need to consume an extra 350 calories per day to use those calories for muscle.
The trick here is to know exactly how many calories make up your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which tells him how many calories he needs to consume daily to maintain his current weight. This is a whole other post that we will get to soon as well, but let’s say for the sake of rounding ease that he needs 3,000 calories per day to maintain his weight, he now knows that he needs to consume 3,350 calories per day to add 1 lb. of lean muscle mass every 10 days.
The trick now is how he hits his macros. We are going to say that this guy does a 50/30/20 split with his macros.
50% Carbohydrates or 1,675 calories
30% Protein or 1,005 calories
20% Fat or 670 calories
1,675 calories of Carbohydrates = 418.75 grams Carbohydrates
1,005 calories of Protein = 251.25 grams Protein
670 calories of Fat = 74.44 grams Fat
The rest is easy. We now have to split these numbers by 6 assuming he eats six meals per day. Using this formula, each meal should contain the following.
80 grams Carbohydrates
42 grams Protein
12 grams Fats
Remember that he wants to split his macros evenly throughout the day, so if he sticks to these numbers, he will be clean bulking his way to a leaner, meaner 218 in 6 months.