The colder weather is now beginning to creep up on us and for most bodybuilders, especially here in the north, that means we automatically go into our bulking mode. There’s really no need to stay super lean, our Advanced Genetics battle gear seem to find their way into our daily outfit choices on a more regular basis and it’s a great time to focus on building more muscle. The old adage of championship physiques are built in the offseason is most definitely true and this is a time when you should really be focusing on allowing your body weight to come up a bit. By consuming more calories than you would during a maintenance or reduction phase while trying to get or stay shredded, you have an opportunity to really pack on some size. But be forewarned here, there are some considerations you must keep in mind as you approach your bulking phase. These considerations, if kept to forefront of your thinking, will keep you looking like a bodybuilder while progressively increasing the size and muscularity of your physique.
Consideration #1: Look Like a Bodybuilder
I can remember years and years ago reading an article in a Flex Magazine written by Lee Haney, and he was describing how he would approach his offseason phase. He agreed that you need to allow your calories to increase over a maintenance phase, but his point was that you still have to keep in mind the fact that if you are going to call yourself a bodybuilder then you should probably always look like one. The line he used was something like, “you can get big, but remember, you can’t flex fat”. So many of us have been guilty of adding more adipose tissue to our physiques than we probably should have in our quest for size and it’s easy to go overboard with our caloric intakes when we get focused on the number going up on the scale. So, the cautionary tale here is to increase everything you need to with your nutrition but pay attention to the mirror as well. You should never feel embarrassed by how you look under your pump cover so just keep things in check, increase the cals slowly, maintain a decent body composition and just grow at a reasonable rate
Consideration #2: Don’t Injure Yourself Unnecessarily
No one ever wants to get injured, let alone while training, so what do I mean when I say don’t injure yourself unnecessarily? Well, for some reason or another, people tend to think that when it’s time to bulk up and get huge, they automatically have to change the way they’re training. “You gotta lift big to get big” is probably something you’ve always heard and there is a little bit of truth to that but it’s not the gospel. In fact, my suggestion is to simply keep training the way you enjoy training and have been training and just let your nutrition do the work for you. When you think you need to start training super heavy right of the start during your bulking phase, you significantly increase the chances of injury for yourself and that’s what I mean by saying unnecessarily. You don’t have to pile on the plates and test your might on day one. Just let the natural rhythm of progressively getting stronger occur in the gym as you up your calorie intake. Trust me, it will happen so don’t force the issue and just train and be safe.
Consideration #3: Sleep
This is probably the most overlooked and underrated component of the offseason or bulking phase for so many bodybuilders out there who have nothing but good intentions for themselves and anyone else they work with. Sleep is probably the biggest factor for growth. Remember, you don’t grow when you train, you don’t grow when you’re running around all day at your job or whatever it is you’re doing. You grow when you sleep and rest. That means you should be focusing on getting at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every single night so that you can enter into that all important REM phase, which is where all the magic happens. I know when you’re wound up from all the stresses of life, it sometimes becomes difficult to shut your mind off to sleep, but you have to try your best to do so if building muscle is a priority. If you want a little help in this regard, you can always try our Go Dark Sleep System aid to help improve your total sleep time and sleep quality.
Getting huge has always been a priority for this writer and believe me when I say, I did get big (relatively speaking of course) but I didn’t always go about it the right way. Experience has taught me that there’s no rush when it comes to getting big and building muscle and you can always overdo your approach and turn things sloppy. You don’t want that and if you keep the considerations mentioned here in this article in your mind, you won’t make the same mistakes I did. Train hard but smart, increase your total food intake but keep things in check, focus on getting your sleep and you will enjoy the best offseason you’ve had to date.
Author: Dana Bushell
Dana Bushell, a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University (BAHK, B.Ed) is an Educator, Writer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Nutrition Advisor, Contest Prep/Lifestyle Coach and former competitive bodybuilder, who has been involved in the Fitness Industry for over 25 years. He has worked and written for major fitness publications and many popular bodybuilding sites, is a Gym Star Team member and works hard at teaching and promoting a fitness-based lifestyle in his career as a Physical Education Specialist.