Firstly - what is a bulk, and why do we do it?
A ‘bulk’ is essentially a period of time chosen to build muscle and increase strength. During this time, your calorie intake will increase into a surplus, which means eating more calories than you are burning, (sounds scary, I know, but stay with me)!
The main aim of a bulk is to improve your overall physique and/or performance, and is often done in a cycle with a ‘cut’ to avoid a plateau.
When eating in a calorie surplus, weight gain is inevitably the goal, and although the intention is to mainly build muscle mass, gaining body fat is unavoidable. Gaining extra body fat as a woman can be hard to deal with, especially when society portrays the ‘perfect’ body to be slim and toned.
Do not let this pressure stop you from trying to develop yourself.
A lot of the time, what we see in social media is often unrealistic and unmaintainable, it’s near impossible to stay that lean all year round. There isn’t a right or wrong way to look, it’s about being happy within yourself.
Bulking should be viewed as a time of investment. Yes, you will gain a few extra pounds of fat, and the mentality of that can be tough to deal with, but in the long term you can cut that extra fat later, which can completely transform your body and strength.
I am now 11 weeks deep into my second bulk, and let me just confirm - the struggle is real! Nearly as real as the ‘fluff’ (extra body fat). I have days where I feel amazingly strong and positive, but I also have days where I feel ridiculously negative and fat.
That is the beauty of a bulk. I am in no way saying I am an expert on this subject, but I thought I would share some of my ‘top tips’, and ways that I have found to deal with the mentality of gaining that extra bit of weight.
Shift your mind-set
Bodybuilding, and going to the gym in general, is very aesthetically based. This can make it incredibly hard when you start to lose definition. In a weird way, it can make you feel like you are going backwards. However, it is so important to stop focusing on how you look, and start focusing on how you perform.
Set yourself goals based on building strength and muscle. For example; squat 80kg, do a pull up etc. By giving yourself performance based goals, rather than aesthetical ones, you’ll find it easier to take your mind away from gaining weight.
Which leads me onto training; there is absolutely no point eating in a calorie surplus, if you aren’t training correctly and implementing progressive overload, to ensure those extra calories are resulting in muscle growth, and not just being stored as extra fat.
This is the optimal time to improve your strength, therefore gym sessions need to be challenging. Aim to break personal bests’ on at least one of your compound movements a week, as this will help ease your feelings about your image, and leave you feeling badass.
Watching the scales go up and feeling your clothes get tighter can be extremely daunting, however, do not let this dishearten you. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is ‘Trust The Process’! Honestly, just believe in yourself and believe in the science.
Stop caring about having abs, stop caring about the scales - chuck on a baggy jumper, get your head down, and work hard!
When looking at the bigger picture, a few months in a calorie surplus are nothing, and if they are done correctly, can have a huge impact on your physique.
Although much easier said than done, enjoy your bulk! Enjoy the extra calories, the extra energy, view it as an investment in yourself, and do not let the extra fluff get to you!
I promise it will all be worth it when you cut back and have you’re at your best physically!