Thursday, December 9, 2010
Bulk like a Bear for Winter....Not Exactly.
As many people know, bears will gain as much weight as possible in order to hibernate for the winter. Most of the weight gained being fat, to be stored for food to be cannibalized during the long winter hibernation. When the winter is over and they come out of their dens, they are lean and wiry, hungry for their first meal.
In the realm of fitness, and much more narrowly in the area of bodybuilding theory and practice, those who would like to increase in lean muscle mass tend to “bulk” during the winter months. This means packing on the mass in order to shred as much fatty tissue as possible before the summertime. This practice is an emulation of professional bodybuilders who will pack on the pounds during an off season and then cut down prior to competition in order to have more muscle density, definition and size.
Here we have a proper bulk cycle.
However, the two processes are not to be confused. You do would not want to bulk like a bear. “Bulking” in terms of packing on body mass does not mean you gain lots of fat and then lose it later. The term bulking refers to packing on as much lean body mass as possible within a certain time frame while keeping the gains of fatty tissue down to a minimum. In other words you are not going to go out and have fast food for every meal and say you’re bulking. In gym culture this may be a pet peeve of the advanced and older lifters when new lifters start off, because of the prominence of “street knowledge” sometimes more commonly referred to as “bro-science” that is very hard to dispel and replace with solid backed information.
Once the bulking cycle is over, the person would then shift their workout program to higher repetition exercises with shorter rests in between sets. Focus is kept on burning as much fat accumulation while keeping the lean muscle gains from bulking.
A proper bulk would consist of working out as intensely as possible within a short amount of time, keeping rest times high enough to completely recover in order to hit the lift heavy for another set again. Once the workout is complete the rest of the day is focused on eating about every 3-4 hours with calorie dense healthy foods.
Now let’s not get the term “intensely” mixed up either. When working out intensely to stimulate as much growth as possible while bulking, you want to recruit as many motor units as possible by lifting very heavy and for low end reps. The common program being 5X5, five sets, five reps, with 2-5 minutes rest in between. When you lift this way you need to be lifting the most amount of weight you can handle for the 5 reps. Lifting without a spotter is not ideal as you would not be able to finish your repetitions with the amount of weight. You would also benefit from splitting your workouts as much as possible into days for certain body parts with no more than 5 exercises per body part. This way you can hit each muscle group hard and give it a whole week to recover, and grow from the stimulus received. Cardio is still essential only in moderation. No more than 3 time a week.
So this winter if you wanna pack on the mass remember these rules.
1. Eat clean calorie dense food, i.e. peanut butter, juices from concentrate, breads, pastas, grains etc.
2. Make sure you eat enough. Growth is done after your workout, eat plenty of clean foods and you wont have to worry about the fat packing on.
3. Don’t skip out on cardio, unless you have a super fast metabolism that necessitates maximum caloric allocation.
4. Don’t cut out your carbohydrates. They are the major energy source for what you’ll be doing in the gym. They wont make you big, but they will allow for the proper building of muscle by making sure it isn’t cannibalized.