A Simpleton’s Guide to Bulking: $^*@#@* Eat!!

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It seems not a week goes by where I don’t receive an email from some random broseph explaining how he’s been trying to put on some weight.

It usually goes something like this:

Hey Tony, I’m 6-1, 155 lbs, and I swear on my mother’s grave I eat, like, all day. I just can’t seem to put on weight no matter what I do. HELP!!!!!

PS: You’re pretty much my idol and I plan on naming my first born after you.

While this is a pretty loaded question to say the least, I generally answer the same way, every time.

1. Try as you may, you aren’t fooling anybody. Trust me, you’re not eating enough. Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it, you eat ALL the time. Well I’m here to tell you that no, you don’t. I know you think that just because you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a Clif Bar (Really?? A freakin Clif Bar?) at some point during the day that you’re on your way to ginormousville, but the fact of the matter is that it ain’t gonna happen.

2. To give you an idea, click HERE and HERE to see what a sample day looks like for me. Seems like a lot, right? I probably eat more protein before noon than most people get their entire day. And the kicker? That’s just to MAINTAIN my current weight, which is generally around 200-205 lbs year round.

Of course, that isn’t to say that one would have to eat that much (particularly for those who aren’t carrying as much six pack). But it does shed some light on what it takes to actually go out of your way to put mass on.

3. Along those same lines, and using myself as an example, about six to seven years ago I put myself through a fairly significant 9-10 month bulking phase where I went from 180-210 lbs.

One of the things that helped me most was holding myself accountable. It sounds cheesy, but I participated in a friendly wager with a bunch of buddies to see who could get to 200 lbs first. Seriously, it’s amazing how easy it is to make progress when you put yourself out there, WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS, and hold yourself accountable to other people. If you have a few friends who are in the same boat, there’s nothing like a little friendly competition to light a fire under your ass.

4. Getting into the nitty-gritty, though, here’s how I approached it; and not coincidentally, I think this approach works well for most guys trying to add mass on while still trying to not become a fat-ass.

– Days I trained lower body, I ate like a mofo. Personally, at the time, I was trying to add mass to my lower body so it only made sense to eat the bulk of my calories on those days.

Specifically, my post-training meals generally looked like this:

Meal #1: One serving Surge (or anything equivalent). Yes, chocolate milk would suffice as well.

Meal #2: (45-60 minutes later): 2-3 cups of cereal (Smart Start, Honey Bunches of Oats) with scoop protein powder, 1 yam (mashed with cinnamon), apple, and some cottage cheese with yogurt.

Meal #3: (another 60-90 minutes later): 2-3 servings of whole wheat (or spinach) pasta with marinara sauce, a chicken breast, and broccoli.

Meal #4: (another 90 minutes after that): 2 cups rolled oats with blueberries and cinnamon.

As you can see, I didn’t mess around. People aren’t kidding when they say you need to eat……a lot. As with anything, and this is an important point, you need to build yourself up to that much food. It wasn’t like I just woke up one day and decided to go for broke. I had to push myself past the “I swear I will regurgitate my liver if I eat another bite of food” feeling, but it didn’t take long before I could easily eat all that food and then some.

– On days I only trained upper body, I would omit one of those meals above (usually the oatmeal).

– On days I didn’t train at all, I’d omit one of those meals plus the post-training shake. Breakfast and pre-bed meals stayed relatively the same (eggs, fruit, blah blah blah).

5. Food prep. Everyone reads about this and knows how important it is, but no one ever wants to do it.

I’m too tired. I got home too late. I broke a fingernail.

Quit with the excuses. Suck it up and get it done. I like to do the majority of my food prep on Sundays right after I do my grocery shopping. Namely, this just entails cooking all my meat for the week and/or asking my girlfriend to do it for me. In return, she just laughs at me.

6. Moving on, another great idea that I stole from John Berardi – and a strategy that I use a lot with my high school athletes – is to buy a bunch of bagels and slap some natural peanut butter between each one. In between every meal, grab one and eat it.

7. Another option, while extreme, would be to take advantage of nocturnal feedings. One caveat, however: Don’t be an asshat and set your alarm to wake yourself up in the middle night. This does nothing but mess with your body’s circadian rhythm, not to mention pisses off your significant other. Instead, chug a glass of water prior to sleepies, which in turn will help your body wake itself up naturally to go to the bathroom. Once you’re done pissing all over the floor, you’ll drink the protein shake you conveinently set aside next to your bed. BAM – an easy 200-300 kcals right there.

Of course, we could (and should) get into the discussion of what strategies can be done in the weight room to help facilitate the process (focus on compound movements, limit metabolic conditioning, stop doing leg curls FOR THE LOVE F GOD), but that’s a topic for another day. The point is, the battle of the bulk (for lack of a better term) is quite literally, won and lost in the kitchen.

Have some food for thought? (HA, pun intended). Share them below!

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