Bulking shouldn’t mean getting fat!!
Traditionally bodybuilders go through very distinct phases: bulking and dieting.
Bulking usually consisted of an “any calorie is a good calorie” approach, where any increase in weight was a good one, with total disregard to the quality of that gain. Such an approach is flawed and here is why.
Fat cells are involved in the aromatisation of testosterone to estrogen: to be very clear – the fatter you become, the more comparatively feminine you become from a hormonal perspective, which is bad news for muscle growth and further fat accumulation. One study found that “the decrease in androgen levels is proportional to the degree of obesity” (Shayeb and Bhattacharya, 2009). This explains why another recent study used an aromatase inhibitor with a high affinity for fat cells to restore the testosterone levels of a group of obese men (Loves, Ruinemans-Koerts and de Boer, 2008).
This should clearly explain why bulking is very bad news for an individual that is wishing to gain muscle. Sure, you need excess calories to grow but the muscle growth that you experience is exposed to diminishing returns and will be associated with ever increasing fat accumulation. Furthermore, triggering your body to produce new fat cells is something we all want to avoid.
What is a better approach?
Set meal plan with a cheat: We suggest following a set meal/calorie plan when in the off-season. This way calories and macronutrients (particularly carbohydrates) can be manipulated in response to increased fat storage. By having set meals, one can also factor in a set and responsible cheat meal to allow for a more enjoyable off-season. By keeping everything else consistent, a second cheat meal can be added, as long as the individual is not accumulating too much fat.
Use mini-diets: In the case that an individual’s body-fat is getting into double digits, we suggest throwing in a mini-diet as a means to reduce body-fat before then resuming a calorie surplus.
- The fatter you get, the harder it is to gauge the quality of your gains and the more effort required to lean out for your comp, for summer, your wedding or whatever it is that you wish to get in condition for.
- More fat = less androgens and more estrogen = less muscle and more fat
- Enjoy your off-season, but don’t use it as an excuse to blow out.
- Have a set a meal plan and apply the same rigorous planning to your bulk as your do to your diet.
- Remember: fat is fat regardless if you are trying to put on muscle.
Get bigger responsibly,
Loves, S., Ruinemans-Koerts, J. and de Boer, H., 2008. Letrozole once a week normalizes serum testosterone in obesity-related male hypogonadism. European Journal of Endocrinology, 158(5), pp.741–747.
Shayeb, A. and Bhattacharya, S., 2009. Review: Male obesity and reproductive potential. The British Journal of Diabetes \& Vascular Disease, 9(1), pp.7–12.