Bulking: What is it & How to Bulk for Muscle Growth 

A vector image of a bodybuilding who is bulking

Bulking is an essential part of the muscle-building process, and if you do not know how to bulk correctly, you could end up just spinning your wheels and make no progress in the gym. 

Moreover, there is a ton of misinformation about bulking online, so much so that you could end up ruining your physique if you aren’t careful. 

This is why we decided to create this science-based article telling you everything you need to know about bulking. Let’s get right into it.  

What Bulking Is (and Isn’t) 

Bulking refers to a state in which the body is easily able to put on muscle and mass and it is achieved by being in a caloric surplus.  

What is a caloric surplus you may be asking? Well, it’s simple; being in a caloric surplus simply means eating more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. 

Being in a caloric surplus (or bulking) is essential if you want to put on weight.  

This is because your body needs more calories to create new muscle or fat tissue – did you think your gains were just going to come out of thin air?  

To find out how many calories you need to put on muscle, go over to our free calorie calculator and get a quick estimate based on numerous variables like your height and weight.  

Of course, you’ll also need to follow a good training program and eat enough protein If you want to put on muscle, but being in a caloric surplus is just as important if not more so than those other two variables.  

However, there are a few misconceptions about bulking. 

Many people assume that bulking equates to eating anything and everything in sight – this just is not the case. 

A good bulk is one that is planned out thoroughly so you can meet your nutritional needs, and this usually means going around 250-500 over your maintenance calories. 

If you just eat what you want and don’t count calories, you are going to put on a ton of fat unnecessarily.  

Another misconception about bulking is that it is only for professional bodybuilders. 

Anyone can bulk, no matter your goals.  

In fact, bulking is required to put on muscle, so if you want to get your ideal body, you are going to have to bulk. 

Bulking is just a simple concept that many people overcomplicate.   

If you eat in a slight caloric surplus, follow a good workout routine, and consume enough protein, you WILL gain muscle and strength if you stay consistent for a long-enough period of time.  

Is Bulking Safe? 

When it comes to the safety of bulking, there is often a cloud of confusion and misconceptions. 

Many individuals worry that bulking may lead to unhealthy weight gain or compromise their overall well-being.  

However, with the right approach and understanding, bulking can be a safe and effective method for achieving your fitness goals.  

First and foremost, it’s important to emphasize that bulking, when done correctly, is a controlled and intentional process.  

It involves strategically increasing your calorie intake to provide your body with the necessary energy and nutrients for muscle growth.  

The key is to strike a balance between calorie surplus and quality nutrition, ensuring you’re fueling your body with the right foods while avoiding excessive fat gain. 

A common misconception is that bulking automatically leads to gaining large amounts of fat.  

However, the goal of bulking is to primarily gain muscle mass while minimizing fat gain.  

By carefully monitoring your calorie intake and focusing on nutrient-dense foods, you can promote lean muscle growth without compromising your overall body composition. 

Moreover, bulking should be approached with a clear plan and timeframe.  

Setting specific goals and monitoring your progress allows you to make adjustments along the way, ensuring you’re on track and not pushing your body beyond its limits. 

Another aspect of safety to consider during bulking is listening to your body.  

Pay attention to any signs of excessive weight gain, discomfort, or changes in your overall health.  

If you notice any negative effects or feel that your body is being pushed too hard, it’s essential to reassess your approach and consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness expert. 

Common Bulking Mistakes  

Getting Carried Away  

One of the most common mistakes during the bulking phase is getting carried away with excessive calorie intake, also known as dirty bulking.  

While it’s true that you need to consume a surplus of calories to support muscle growth, going overboard can lead to unwanted fat gain.  

It’s essential to strike a balance between calorie intake and your body’s actual needs. Remember, quality trumps quantity.  

Focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide the necessary fuel for muscle growth, rather than mindlessly consuming empty calories. 

Struggling to Eat  

Believe it or not, struggling to eat enough can also be a stumbling block in your bulking journey.  

For some, the challenge lies in consuming large quantities of food due to a smaller appetite or a busy lifestyle.  

However, it’s crucial to prioritize your nutrition and make a conscious effort to fuel your body adequately.  

Plan your meals ahead of time, incorporate calorie-dense foods, and consider adding snacks or shakes to boost your intake.  

Remember, consistency is key, so find strategies that work for you and keep you on track with your calorie goals. 

Bulking Too Long 

Once you begin to see strength gains, it can feel incredible.  

However, it can be far too easy to just focus on your numbers at the gym and ignore the weight on the scale.  

After bulking for a long time, you will have likely put on a decent amount of mass, being made up of both muscle mass and fat. 

Muscle gains diminish over time, and if you continue to eat at the surplus you did when you first began, you will quickly begin to accumulate a ton of fat. 

To balance this, you will either need to reduce the size of your surplus over time (only after you have been lifting for at least 2 years) or shorten your bulks so they are more manageable.  

Determining Your Calorie And Macronutrient Intake  

The Muscle Gain Equation  

If you want to gain muscle, there are four main things you need; a caloric surplus, a good workout routine, adequate protein consumption, and progressive overload in the gym.  

If you optimise these four aspects of bulking, you will maximise your muscle and strength growth.  

To figure out how many calories you need to consume and how much protein you need to eat, you can use our free online calorie calculator and protein calculator to get a quick and easy estimate.  

Calories Are King  

When it comes to bulking, calories take the throne. You see, to build new muscle tissue, your body needs an excess of energy.  

This surplus of calories provides the fuel needed for your muscles to grow and develop.  

Therefore, consuming more calories than your body burns is essential for successful bulking.  

But remember, it’s not just about devouring anything and everything in sight.  

Quality calories from nutritious sources will yield the best results. 

Macro Factors  

While calories are vital, the composition of those calories also matters.  

This is where macro factors come into play.  

Macros, short for macronutrients, are the building blocks of your diet.  

They consist of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  

Each macronutrient plays a unique role in supporting muscle growth.  

Proteins repair and build muscle tissue, carbohydrates provide energy, and fats aid in hormone production.  

Balancing these macros is crucial for optimizing your bulking progress. 

The Whole Plate  

A well-rounded bulking diet consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods.  

Think of your plate as a canvas, where you can create a masterpiece of muscle-building goodness. 

 Include lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu.  

Add complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, and fruits. Don’t forget healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.  

Fill the remaining space with an array of colourful vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals. 

Macronutrient Calculator  

To simplify your bulking journey, a macronutrient calculator can be a handy tool.  

It helps determine the optimal distribution of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats based on your individual needs and goals.  

By inputting your weight, activity level, and desired caloric surplus, the calculator provides you with the ideal macro ratios to support muscle growth effectively. 

Total Calories: Per Day 

Now, let’s talk numbers. Your total daily calorie intake is a crucial factor in successful bulking.  

It’s recommended to aim for a moderate surplus, typically around 250-500 calories above your maintenance level.  

This surplus provides your body with the extra energy needed for muscle growth without excessive fat gain.  

However, keep in mind that individual differences exist, so adjust your calorie intake based on your body’s response. 

Foods To Eat And Avoid A. Foods To Eat B. Foods To Limit 

A. Foods To Eat 

Include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your bulking diet. 

 Lean proteins like chicken, lean beef, eggs, and Greek yogurt provide essential amino acids for muscle repair.  

Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, and oats offer a steady release of energy.  

Incorporate healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil to support hormone production and overall health. 

B. Foods To Limit 

While it’s important to enjoy your meals, some foods are better consumed in moderation during the bulking phase.  

Processed snacks, sugary treats, and sugary beverages may provide empty calories without offering substantial nutritional value.  

Limiting these foods can help you maintain a healthier overall diet and optimize your muscle-building progress. 

Training for Gains  

Stay Objective  

To make the most out of your bulking journey, it’s important to set clear goals and track your progress along the way.  

Define what you want to achieve in terms of muscle size, strength, or specific lifts. 

 Keep a training journal to record your workouts, weights lifted, and any notable changes you observe in your physique.  

Regularly reassess your goals and adjust your training plan accordingly to stay on track and maintain motivation. 

Be Tactical About Cardio  

Cardiovascular exercise is crucial for overall health, but during a bulking phase, it’s essential to be strategic about your cardio sessions.  

While cardio can help improve cardiovascular fitness and aid in calorie burning, excessive cardio can interfere with muscle growth and recovery. 

 Instead of long, steady-state cardio sessions, consider incorporating shorter, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.  

HIIT provides cardiovascular benefits while minimizing the potential impact on your bulking progress. 

More Isn’t Always More  

When it comes to training during a bulking phase, it’s important to understand that more isn’t always better. Quality of training trumps quantity.  

Focus on lifting with proper form and technique, ensuring that you’re engaging the target muscles effectively.  

Instead of endlessly adding more sets or reps, strive for progressive overload by gradually increasing the weights you lift over time.  

This progressive approach will challenge your muscles and stimulate growth without overtaxing your system. 

Put Recovery First 

Recovery is a vital component of any successful bulking plan. Your muscles need time to repair and rebuild after intense workouts.  

Prioritize quality sleep, as it plays a crucial role in muscle recovery and growth. Adequate nutrition, including consuming enough protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, is also essential for recovery.  

Additionally, consider incorporating active recovery strategies such as foam rolling, stretching, and mobility work to prevent muscle imbalances and promote overall well-being. 

Supplements 

When it comes to bulking, many people wonder if supplements can help accelerate their progress.  

While a solid nutrition and training plan should always be the foundation of your bulking strategy, supplements can play a complementary role in supporting your goals. 

Remember, supplements are meant to supplement your nutrition and training efforts, not replace them. They should be used in conjunction with a well-balanced diet and a solid training program.  

Consistency, proper nutrition, and progressive training remain the foundation of a successful bulking journey.  

Supplements play a much smaller role in the muscle-building process than most people assume, and unless you are trying to squeeze out an extra 5% optimization, you do not even need to dive into supplements at all.  

Bulking Supplements for Bodybuilding  

Pre-Workout  

Ready to crush your workouts and unleash your inner beast during bulking? Pre-workout supplements can be a game-changer.  

These power-packed formulas are designed to provide you with an extra boost of energy, focus, and endurance, ensuring that you make the most out of every training session.  

From intense weightlifting sessions to high-intensity interval training, pre-workout supplements can help you push past your limits and reach new heights. 

Creatine Monohydrate  

If there’s one supplement that has stood the test of time in the fitness world, it’s creatine monohydrate.  

This mighty compound has been extensively studied and proven to enhance muscle strength, power, and overall performance.  

By increasing your body’s creatine stores, creatine monohydrate can fuel your muscles during intense workouts, allowing you to lift heavier weights and perform more reps.  

It’s like having an extra reserve of energy at your disposal to push through challenging sets and stimulate muscle growth. 

Protein Powder  

While it’s crucial to consume an adequate amount of protein through whole food sources, protein powders can be a convenient and efficient way to meet your daily protein needs during bulking.  

With various options like whey, casein, and plant-based protein powders, you have the flexibility to choose what works best for you.  

These powders provide a concentrated dose of high-quality protein, essential for muscle repair and growth.  

Shake it up with water or blend it into delicious smoothies, and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy muscle-building potion. 

Mass Gainer  

For those seeking to pack on size and bulk up rapidly, mass gainers can be a valuable addition to your bulking arsenal.  

Mass gainers are specially formulated to provide a significant calorie surplus in a convenient shake form.  

Packed with a balanced blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, these supplements deliver a concentrated dose of nutrients to support muscle growth and weight gain.  

Whether you’re a hard gainer struggling to meet your calorie requirements or simply looking for a convenient way to boost your intake, mass gainers can be your secret weapon. 

Multivitamin 

When you’re pushing your body to the limit, it’s important to ensure you’re meeting all your nutritional needs.  

That’s where a high-quality multivitamin comes in.  

While whole foods should always be the foundation of your nutrition, a multivitamin acts as an insurance policy, filling in any potential nutrient gaps.  

Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, a multivitamin supports overall health, immune function, and helps optimize the body’s natural processes for muscle growth and recovery. 

Macronutrients 

When it comes to bulking, understanding the power of macronutrients is key.  

These are the three essential components that make up your diet: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  

Think of them as the building blocks for your muscles, the fuel for your energy, and the support system for your overall well-being. 

If you struggle to get any of these macronutrients, there are supplements out there that can help you achieve your targets.  

Bulking Is a Phase of Bodybuilding 

At the end of the day, bulking is just a phase of bodybuilding.  

While some people may overcomplicate bulking and make it seem way more difficult than it truly is, the core idea behind bulking is incredibly simple.  

Bulking is just eating in a caloric surplus so your body can put on muscle and fat. 

It’s as simple as that.  

However, it would be wrong to mention bulking without talking about cutting. 

While we will not go in-depth on cutting in this article, cutting is what you do to shed any excess fat you may have put on during a bulk. 

Cutting is the exact opposite of bulking, meaning you go into a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its weight) instead of a caloric surplus. 

These two tools are essential for building the body you want.  

Bulking – FAQs 


Is Bulking Actually Healthy? 

Yes, bulking is actually healthy when done correctly.  

As long as you are not currently overweight and maintain a balanced diet while bulking, you are not going to negatively impact your health.  

What Does Bulking Actually Do? 

Bulking allows you to put on both muscle and fat mass much easier.  

If you are not in a caloric surplus (which is all bulking is), you will not put on any weight or increase muscle mass.  

What is The Bulking Meaning In Gym? 

The bulking meaning in gym is being in a caloric surplus. 

This means eating more calories than your body needs to maintain your current bodyweight.  

What is The Bulking Meaning in Bodybuilding? 

The bulking meaning in bodybuilding is eating in a caloric surplus, or eating more calories than you need to maintain your current body weight to put on mass.  

What is The Best Bulking Workout? 

There is no best bulking workout.  

There are thousands of effective training programs out there, and as long as you are being consistent, you can make progress on any one of them. 

Is Bulking Just Eating More? 

No, bulking is not just eating more. 

Bulking refers to eating in a caloric surplus, which means eating more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight.  

How To Start Bulking? 

To start bulking you need to eat in a caloric surplus.  

To do this, go to an online calorie calculator and find out how many calories you need to put on weight at a rate you are comfortable with. 

What Is Bulking and Cutting? 

Bulking is a term that describes someone who is eating in a caloric surplus, while cutting refers to eating in a caloric deficit.  

What is The Bulking Meaning In Slang? 

The bulking meaning in slang is somebody who is eating in a caloric surplus, or eating more calories than they currently need to maintain their current bodyweight.  

 
We hope you will put the information in this article to good use. 

Once you know how to bulk properly, gaining muscle and putting on weight will become easy.

Bulking is just that important for gaining muscle – if you don’t know how to bulk, you aren’t going to get anywhere. 

If you would like more bulking advice or fitness information in general, feel free to take a look at the rest of the content we have available at MovingForwards.