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An introduction to bulking

When it comes to physical fitness, bulking is always an interesting topic – and many people struggle to understand how to do it efficiently and how it can impact the mind. This article, following on from a recent discussion on diet, will explain more.

What is bulking?

In the context of exercise, bulking is a common term for consuming an excess amount of food, in order to increase mass & weight on the body. There are a couple variations of bulking: Dirty bulk, and lean bulk. 

Dirty bulking

Dirty bulk is what the majority of beginners start with, as it gives you the freedom to eat whatever you want, and forms the foundation of putting weight on. To put on weight, you need to consume an excess number of calories, more than you expend throughout the day. For dirty bulking, as long as you are regularly working out as well as consuming more than you are expending, then you will reap the full rewards.

An example of a dirty bulk diet, would be a lot of junk/fast food to make up calories, as well as ensuring you achieve the protein and fat consumption. As a result of dirty bulking, you will put on excess fat, but it will also allow you to become much bigger in a shorter time.

Pros:

  • Quick mass gain.
  • Able to lift heavier, because you have the mass on you.
  • Freedom to eat whatever.

Cons:

  • Excess fat on the body.
  • Feeling lethargic the majority of the time.

Clean bulking

Clean Bulk is the same as dirty bulk in the sense of calorie consumption, however, instead of the freedom of food, it is focused around consuming the correct nutrients – ensuring you hit both  macronutrient and micronutrients.

Physique changes here as well, as a clean bulking meal plan will provide you with a lean build. It enables you to have a better feeling after eating, due to endorphins being released as a result of the healthy food you are consuming.

Pros:

  • Quick mass gain.
  • More exposure to healthy foods.
  • Feeling energetic after eating.

Cons:

  • No freedom of food.
  • Overthinking what you eat, lack of flexibility.

Getting your desired physique

A clear difference between dirty bulking and clean bulking is physique, which is what most people strive to improve in the gym. A clean bulk will give you a leaner looking physique than a dirty bulk, purely due to what you are eating. 

The calories can remain the same in both plans, e.g., 3240 calories per day of dirty bulking, as well as 3240 of clean bulking – but throughout the day, the calories can be made up of various different foods. Dirty bulkers may eat junk/fast food whereas clean bulkers will be committed to eating their greens and healthy foods such as chicken, rice, broccoli, etc.

How many calories do I need to bulk?

To work out how many calories that you need to expend per day, as well as how many to consume, please refer to https://www.calculator.net/tdee-calculator.html).

The final word

Bulking with the right foods can have a positive impact on the mind, helping to release endorphins which can help you feel happier throughout the day. Dirty bulking, although often seen as a ‘quick fix’ may achieve the desired physical results, but will make typically make you feel lethargic and tired due to the foods you are eating and can be undermining to your progress in the long run.


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Anish Mehan
Anish Mehan is an aspiring nutritionist/dietitian. By day, I am a technology recruitment consultant and by night, I am a part-time Fitness Professional.

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