The cold arrives and the famous bulking phases begin, in which you try to gain as much muscle mass as possible.
Calories go up, and so do McDonald's trips.
The problem is that in many cases, it's not just the arm that gets bigger, but the belly too.
It's perfectly fine to gain some fat when you want to gain maximum muscle mass, but getting fat along the way is unnecessary.
The more fat you gain at this stage, the more time you'll have to spend on the treadmill before summer.
More time you will have to go on a diet to lose weight, and ironically, more muscle mass you will lose in this process.
Maybe it's a good idea this winter to approach the bulk phase more calmly, no?
Weigh yourself weekly
It is important to know if you are gaining weight, and if you are, how much weight you are gaining.
If every time you step on the scale you have another two kilos, it means that after 4 weeks you weigh 8 kilos more.
This feeds the ego, and of course, it's motivating to see the scales go up, at least in the early stages. The problem is later.
It's impossible to gain 8 kilos of lean mass in four weeks, and often without realizing it, what you thought was pure muscle mass is mostly fat.
If you're gaining weight too fast, it might be a good idea to cut down on calories.
Always weigh yourself around the same time of day, preferably when waking up fasting. This will avoid the typical fluctuations that happen throughout the day.
Also, don't forget that the more advanced you are, the slower your muscle mass gains will be, so don't expect to keep the same pace over time, nor use that as an excuse to skyrocket your number of calories.
Attention, don't just be guided by the weight on the scale.
Gradual increase in calories
If you are consuming 2500 kcal a day and your weight is stable, going up to 4000 kcal is not a very good idea.
If at 2500 kcal your weight doesn't go up or down, you're probably close to your caloric maintenance needs.
If you're already training and your current diet doesn't change your weight, try adding just 300 kcal.
In the case of 2500 kcal it would be an increase to 2800 kcal.
If you're going to start, or start training again, you can go up a little more, but never more than 500 kcal in the space of two weeks.
Ideally, make gradual increases and see how you react.
If you add 300 kcal and you don't gain weight or see results after two weeks, try increasing another 200 kcal.
If on the other hand you added 300kcal and two weeks later you increased 1kg, you are probably on the right track.
Don't you know how many calories you need?
see the article How many calories to use to gain muscle mass?
If 80% of your calories are in carbohydrates, you're hardly going to get the best muscle gains possible.
It makes a good distribution of macronutrients, adapted to your lifestyle and your training.
In terms of proteins, multiply your current body weight by a value between 1.8 to 2.3g.
Then, use between 20% to 30% of your calories in fats, and the rest fill with carbohydrates.
The more intense your day, and your training, the higher the percentage of carbohydrates you should use.
As for fats, never use less than 10% of your caloric intake.
To learn more about protein consumption, see our article How much protein do I need per day?
For fats, you have our article How much fat do I need per day?
The more feedback you get, the better.
It's easy to let go of weight gain at this stage, and only realize it too late.
In addition to the scale, it uses other forms of feedback, don't just be guided by the weight on the scale, nor by the mirror.
Take a measuring tape and measure your arm, stomach, chest and legs every two weeks.
Take pictures regularly, with the same lighting and poses.
Ask someone close to you for a sincere opinion.
The more feedback you have, the easier it will be to know if you're on the right track or not, and it will help you identify weaknesses.
But it also pays attention to the source of this feedback.
That boy at the gym who hates you is probably not the best person to listen to, and neither are your parents who hate you going to the gym.
To achieve the greatest possible lean mass gain, with the least fat mass gain, you need a good workout, well done.
You need to stimulate the muscle to grow.
It's no use having the best training plan in the world if you don't try hard at the time of executing it.
You need to execute that training plan, and you need to execute it well.
You don't need to be the bench press king or write your name in the gym's squat cage, but you do need to push yourself, increase loads and evolve.
If you're doing sides with one arm, and sending messages with the other, you're hardly going to get good results.
Most likely you have a smartphone, but if you don't, a notepad will do.
Point out the loads you use, the exercises you do, repetitions, sets, how you felt and what changed.
This will help you to be aware of whether you are really evolving or not.
If after a month of training everything is the same, something is wrong.
Of course you don't need to write a 5 page diary per workout, but the more data you have, the easier it is to see where you can improve, where you're failing and where you're on the right track.
Cheat meals, garbage meals, garbage days, or whatever you call it.
There are several approaches to this strategy, but it usually involves eating without restrictions, in one meal, or in the case of garbage day, for an entire day, without paying much attention to calories.
This type of meal does not cause great problems, eaten once a week, but it also does not bring great benefits beyond the psychological, especially in phases of muscle mass gain.
If you're eating this type of meal every other day, be prepared for garbage results.
If your diet to gain muscle mass is costing you so much, and you have dreams at night with more exotic foods, something is missing in your diet.
Calories are the number one factor in gaining weight, and the number one reason someone goes from a beach body to a Michelin body (and vice versa).
If your ideal number of calories to gain weight is approximately 3500 Kcal, using 5000 will not give you extra muscle, just extra fat.
Exaggerating your caloric intake or not is what will make the biggest difference between a good evolution, with good gains in lean mass and minimal fat, or a huge increase in weight, not only in muscle, but also in fat .
It's one of the best investments you can make to get good results in the gym, and it's worth more than any supplement.
It's cheap and shows you that the oats you put for breakfast are not 100g but 200g.
You don't need to carry it around with it in your backpack, but over time you'll start to get a sense of the amounts you use, even without using a scale, and benefit from it.
The best known supplements to gain weight are the gainers, or hypercaloric ones.
Mega Mass once dominated this category, nowadays there are a lot of supplements of this kind, and luckily, better ones.
You can use them, they are easy calories, and if you choose a good gainer, they are good calories.
On the other hand, you get the same results using food, and most of these supplements are of low quality.
You have here the example of a good quality homemade gainer.
If you are really determined to buy supplements to help you gain muscle mass, take a look. in this article.
To gain muscle mass, you need a diet hypercaloric, which will also lead you to gain fat.
This doesn't mean that for every gram of muscle you gain, 1kg of fat comes behind.
Your goal in the so-called bulk phase should be to gain as much muscle mass and as little fat as possible.
If you control the increase in calories well, follow a good training plan and the rest of the tips in this article, you will see that you get the results you are looking for, without excessive fat gains.
To help you with your nutrition at this stage, see our article What to eat to gain muscle mass.
If you have any questions, use the comment area below.