I used to flip on by articles on bulking up while reading my weightlifting magazines, for fear that I'd follow the advice therein and consequently get fat. Yes, believe it or not, there are many body types which gain weight much too readily, and should they follow the average advice on bulking up they would get fat very rapidly.
Every time I tried to bulk up, I would inevitably accumulate ugly fat around my midsection. I have learned from this mistake, and would like to share with you a way which I hope will help you to beat the big belly blues while bulking.
First of all, most of the advice in these articles is very good. However, I would like to add a couple of very crucial points to the list. Now, it is true, that to gain weight, you must, very simply, eat more and more and more . . .
Protein supplements and blender drinks help a great deal here. I find that most thin fellows with the endomorphic type of body have a hard tome gaining since their body chemistry seems to burn up everything they consume.
Yet almost always, I have found that the average thin person isn't really eating as much as he thinks he is, and should force himself over time to eat more high calorie foods, along with high calorie, weight gain drinks. Gaining weight for some people can be as hard, in forcing down the food, as losing weight is for others.
However, those of us who tend towards the fat type of body must be wary. For those of us who find it too easy to gain the wrong kind of weight, bulking can be a trap IF IT IS DONE TOO RAPIDLY. This is the key for the type just mentioned. If you tend to gain the wrong kind of weight too rapidly, then be sure to gain weight very, very slowly -- purposely hold it back if you have to, but keep on eating well.
KEY: Whatever you do, DO NOT NEGLECT BELLY WORK DURING YOUR BULKING ROUTINE.
I am convinced that this is, without a doubt, the most common mistake made by the person seeking additional muscular size. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you should DOUBLE or TRIPLE the amount of abdominal work you are doing while pursuing a bulk program. By doing this you can avoid getting fat around the middle, while gaining solid, gorilla-like bulk. But be careful, because you are still going to have to judge, on the basis of knowing your particular type of body chemistry, just how rapidly you can afford to gain weight. Don't fall into the "it's easy to gain 20 pounds of solid weight in two weeks" trap. Sure, you can gain 20 pounds of FAT in two weeks, but who needs that?
Let me prove my point to you. Just observe the top stars whom you admire. How much have their photographs taught you? If you watch present and past magazine issues carefully, you'll notice that even the top stars are lucky if they can gain a quarter inch on their arms in a year's time, or six pounds of solid muscle in three months. You see, the top men in the iron game aren't interested in gaining fat weight -- they want solid, granite-like muscle. That's the name of the game. But how often do you see a top star gain, e.g., 20 pounds of "solid muscle" in two weeks! So don't be fooled by this kind of false advertising.
Gaining solid muscle fiber is hard, hard work. Brad Steiner's articles on how to gain solid muscular bodyweight are the best references for advice which you'll find anywhere.
He's absolutely right about doing three solid sets of BASIC work to THE LIMIT and hard, hard work. This is the way to build up, without a doubt. Avoid the trap of overtraining. Just because three sets are "good" doesn't mean that 20 sets are better! You may want to do 20 sets while preparing for a contest or peak to get cut up and veiny, but NOT WHILE YOU'RE TRYING TO BULK UP.
Just to divert from the subject for a moment -- have you ever observed the more muscular animals in nature? Did you know that some animals have a natural "instinct" about how much to eat, and that other animals, such as a horse or dog, will eat so much that it could die of bloating or excess eating? And it is interesting to study the most muscular animals, such as the gorilla. I'm serious! I used to go down to the zoo in Honolulu and spend hours observing these giant apes. The strength of one of these huge beasts would probably make the strongest weightlifter look like Don Knotts.
It would be interesting to measure the arms of some of these larger animals, but I seriously doubt whether a measurement of, say, thirty or thirty-five inches in the arms is unusual! The thing which struck me about the gorillas was the amazing way they could relax all the muscles except the one which they were using. Observe these animals and you might learn something from them. Seriously, did you know that all of man's inventions such as radar, the bear trap, etc., were already existing in nature?
Getting back to the main topic of my article, what I ate while watching the apes at the Honolulu zoo, I'd like to summarize the most important points for you. I feel that certain of these points are critical if you are to bulk up properly, without getting too fat.
Here is the summary of the main points to remember when bulking up:
1) Gain weight SLOWLY. Resist the urge to gain "20 pounds of fat in two weeks".
2) DOUBLE your abdominal work DURING your bulking routine. This will decrease the danger of accumulating fat around the middle, while gaining solid muscle bulk.
3) Follow the excellent advice of people like Brad Steiner in doing only 2 or 3 sets per body part, but lifting extremely HEAVY and max-out on reps. If you're a beginner, be sure to build up to this slowly.
4) Know your body type. If you tend to burn up everything you eat, then force your food and use high calorie weight gaining drinks. But if you tend to gain fat easily, be careful and go slowly.
In summation, remember the timeworn but excellent advice that in order to build huge, solid, hard muscle, you must train brutally HARD.
Avoid training too much.
Eat plenty, but whatever you do don't neglect that belly work.
Enjoy Your Lifting!