Bulking Program For Beginners: Complete Workout & Diet Plan

Want A Bulking Program That Is Proven To Get You Bigger And Stronger In A Matter Of Weeks? Read On…

 
bulking program for beginners
 
 
Even if you are a complete newbie in the gym you have most likely heard that most bodybuilders work in two phases called “bulking” and “cutting”. First, you focus on building strength and size, while consuming more calories than your body burns throughout the day. Then you try to get rid of any extra fat by cutting calories while maintaining lean muscle mass.
 
In this article, I will teach you everything you need to know to successfully “bulk up” by adding serious muscle mass and maintaining a relatively low level of body fat over a period of four to eight weeks (on longer if you want). The principles I talk about are similar to the ones in my Beginner’s Guide To Building Muscle, but with a focus on putting on size FAST. 
 

Why Do I Need A Bulking Program, Anyway?

 
The logic behind a well-designed bulking program is simple. In order to force our body to grow more muscle tissue in very little time, we need to lift heavy and consume extra calories. Basically, all successful bulking guides rely on these two factors. If your workout is too light (meaning not enough weight and too many reps per set) or you simply don’t take in enough calories, even hitting the gym five times a week won’t get you any results. 
 

The Complete Bulking Workout Program

 
The most efficient way to gain serious muscle mass is by doing basic compound exercises and consistently increasing the weight you are using. Compound movements utilize multiple joints and are usually performed using free weights instead of machines. That way they target several muscle groups at once, giving you the best muscle activation measured by the time you spend working out. Not only will you achieve maximal muscle recruitment, but more nervous system activation and an increase in testosterone levels. 

 
Whatever bulking workout you decide to go with (keep reading for my personal favorite), always start your training routine with compound exercises that target whatever muscle group(s) you are training that day. Isolation exercises make up only a small portion of a good bulking program and should only be done at the end of your workout. 
 
 
Don’t Forget Progressive Overload
 
Simply put, progressive overload states that the only way to continue building more muscle over longer periods of time is by progressively lifting heavier weights (or more reps). Even though it is one of the most important pillars of successful bodybuilding, many people forget that if you don’t provide your muscles with adequate amounts of stress, they will have no incentive to change. When bulking, take advantage of the extra energy you’re getting from the additional calories and make sure to add a few more pounds to your lifts every week.
 
 

The Ultimate Bulking Workout Routine

 
The optimal bulking workout for beginners is basically the “normal” workout routine I recommend beginners to follow. It’s a 3-day full body split routine built around the four most important lifts for building strength and size: Squats, Deadlift, Bench Press And Military Press. 
 
You will be doing only 5-7 reps per set (instead of the traditional 8-12 reps per set), along with more weight (around 85% your 1RM). The reason for this is that scientific research suggests that a lower rep range and higher weight load can be more effective for building muscle mass.
 
One possible adjustment for beginners with more than three months experience is to raise the set range from 3 to 4. This will definitely increase the workout’s intensity quite a bit, so make sure your body can handle it. 
 
 
 
Schedule Week 1:
Monday – Full Body Workout 1
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Full Body Workout 2
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full Body Workout 1
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest
 
Schedule Week 2:
Monday – Full Body Workout 2
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Full Body Workout 1
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Full Body Workout 2
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest
 
Schedule Week 3: Repeat Week 1
 
 
Exercises:
 
Full Body Workout 1:
 
Squats: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Bench Press: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Bent Over Barbell Row: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps
 
Full Body Workout 2:
 
Deadlift: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Pull-Ups: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Military Press: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
 
Rest: 2 – 3 minutes between sets 
 
 

Alternative Bulking Workout Routine For Intermediate And Advanced Trainees

 
This second bulking workout routine is meant for trainees past the beginner’s stage. It’s a classic Upper/Lower Body Split, which trains each major body part twice a week. Unlike the beginner workout it also features a few isolation exercises as well as ab exercises.  
 
Make sure to lift heavy on the compound exercises (while maintaining perfect form) and don’t overdo it with the number of isolation exercises (one or two as outlined below is enough).
 
 
Schedule Week 1:
Monday – Upper Body 1
Tuesday – Lower Body 1
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Upper Body 2
Friday – Lower Body 2
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest
  
 
Exercises:
 
Upper Body Workout 1:
 
Bench Press: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Barbell Rows: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Lat Pulldown: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps
Skull Crusher: 2 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps
Hammer Curls: 2 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps
 
Lower Body Workout 1:
 
Deadlift: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Weighted Lunges: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps 
Leg Curls: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps 
Hanging Leg Raises: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps
Ab Crunches: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps
 
 
Upper Body Workout 2:
 
Military Press: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps
Pull-Ups: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps
T-Bar Row: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps
Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps
Barbell Curls: 3 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps
Triceps Press-Downs: 3 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps
 
Lower Body Workout 2:
 
Squats: 3 Sets of 6 – 8 Reps 
Leg Extensions: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps 
Calf Raises: 3 Sets of 10 – 12 Reps 
Hanging Leg Raises: 3 Sets of 8 – 10 Reps
 
 
Rest: 2 – 3 minutes between sets 
 
 

The Ultimate Diet For Your Bulking Program

 
Alright, now that we have covered the training aspect of the ideal bulking program, the next order of business is to decide how to diet during a bulk. You will find tons of bulking meal plans on the internet, some good and many bad. The good ones all follow more or less the same pattern:
 
1. Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
2. Add a certain percentage to your TDEE to get the ideal calorie count for your bulk
3. Reach this calorie count by eating (mostly) healthy foods
 
Let’s look at all three steps individually:
 
 
How To Calculate Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
 
The simplest method of calculating your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is by using this TDEE Calculator here. It will ask you for your age, weight, height and weekly exercise to determine how many calories you burn per day. While the result will not be 100% accurate – since we all have different metabolisms and genetics – it will give you a good idea of how many calories you need to consume in order to maintain your current weight. 
 
The resulting TDEE value will be based on a few key factors that are important to remember:
 
BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate, which describes the sum of calories your body burns while resting (= with no activity)
TEF: Thermic Effect of Food, which describes the sum of calories burned while digesting any kind of food you ate
NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which describes the sum of calories burned during all activity but exercise
TEA: Thermic Effect of Activity, which describes the sum of calories burned when exercising 
 
 
Creating A Calorie Surplus: How Many Calories Do I Really Need To Consume? 
 
This part is probably the most controversial part of any bulking program. Some gurus will tell you to “lean bulk”, adding only around 10 – 15% of additional calories to your TDEE to avoid gaining any unnecessary fat in the process. Other will tell you that this number is too low and your metabolism will most likely speed up and erase such a tiny surplus.
 
So who’s right?
 
As often in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It is true that the human body has a limit of calories it can put towards the process of muscle growth. Consuming more calories than that won’t speed up muscle growth but will make you fatter. However, most (super) skinny guys won’t mind a little extra fat and will also have an easier time losing it afterward. It is also extremely time consuming to maintain a lean bulk over several weeks, having to perfectly track your calories all the time. 
 
This is why in my personal bulking program I prefer to eat around 500 calories more than normal (around 20% of additional calories to my TDEE). That way I make sure to give my body enough energy to build muscle, even if my metabolism were to speed up. Meal planning is also easier that way because 500 calories equal more or less an additional large ham sandwich, which can easily be eaten as a snack throughout the day.
 
How large your daily bulking calorie count has to be, really comes down to how your metabolism reacts to more food and how you feel about tracking calories and gaining unnecessary fat. If you are skinny and simply want to get bigger, don’t be afraid of eating a lot. You won’t get fat over night and have plenty of time to counteract should your body fat percentage rise too quickly.
 
 

Which Foods Should I Include In My Bulking Diet?

 

We covered how much you need to eat during a bulk, now we take a look at what you should be eating. The key is to eat the right foods with the right amount of macro nutrition. A good starting point is having your daily calorie breakdown be 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. Here is a list of the perfect foods to cover your carbs, protein and fat intake:
 
 
Good Sources Of Carbohydrates:
Brown Rice
Whole Grain Pastas / Breads / Cereals
(Sweet) Potatoes
Quinoa
Oats and oatmeal
Vegetables 
Seeds
Chia
Nuts
Yams
Lentils & Beans
 
Bad Sources Of Carbohydrates:
White Pasta / Bread
Bagels
Sweets and Candies
Processed potato / corn / rice products
 
 
Good Sources Of Protein:
Lean Chicken (Chicken Breast)
Fish (Tuna, Salmon, Halibut)
Lean Beef and Veal (Low Fat)
Cheese (Non-fat Mozzarella)
Yogurt
Milk
Eggs
 
Vegetarian/Vegan Sources Of Protein:
Green peas
Leafy greens
Quinoa
Seeds, Nuts & Beans
Chickpeas
Tofu
Hemp
 
 
Good Sources Of Fat:
Avocados
Eggs
Olive Oil
Nuts
Nut Butter
Fatty Fish
Dark Chocolate (in moderate amounts)
Coconuts and Coconut Oil
 
Bad Sources Of Fat:
Burgers
Pizza
Basically any fast-food
Frozen Foods
Potato Chips  
 
 

The Ideal Supplements For Your Bulking Program

 
As a general rule, most supplements will have little to no actual effect on your results. There are, however, three supplements I recommend, simply because they will make your life a lot easier. They include a good protein powdercreatin and fish oil (I have linked the products I use).
 
Protein Powder
 
You don’t need a protein powder to build muscle, but it is a lot more convenient than eating high protein foods all the time, especially before and after a workout or when traveling. I recommend getting a simple but quality whey protein like the one I linked above. 
 
Creatine
 
Creatine is an organic acid found in many foods (such as fish and beef). As a supplement, it will improve strength (thus build more overall muscle) and help you reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Myths about creatine causing kidney problems have been disproven by countless studies. For healthy adults, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects and only people who already suffered from kidney diseases reported problems from creatine supplementation.
 
 
Fish Oil
 
While not as important as protein and creatine supplements, fish oil will not only boost your mood, but help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and strong bones and ligaments. It isn’t necessarily going to help you build muscle faster, but indirectly it will improve your health and increase the quality of your workouts. 
 
 

Bulking Program For Beginners – Summary

 
Bulking Workout
  • Focus on compound exercises
  • A lower rep range and heavier weight loads have shown to be most effective
  • Progressively increase your weights
 
Bulking Diet
  • Maintain a calorie surplus
  • Get the majority of your calories from healthy foods
  • Adjust your diet should your body fat percentage get too high
 
 

Feel Free To Ask Questions And Share Your Thoughts In The Comments Below!

 

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