The day you started lifting, is the day you became forever small because you'll never be as big as you want. I at times find this very true. Being a bodybuilder for over 10 years, the improvement never stops. When you step on that stage and see your pictures, you start to dissect and analyze your physique as well as your fellow competitors. Where are they bigger? Check their calves, lower back, shoulders, etc. And then, you become your biggest competition.
You are the only one standing in your way. We train harder, eat more, take more supplements to reach new levels of growth and girth. As this sport has evolved, many of us are always battling between the bulk and cut. Although there are many ways to approach both aspects, I've experimented so long to finally find my balance. Here are a few tips and techniques to help give you better insight on both cutting and bulking.
Let's begin with the bulk, for instance in my case, 5'7" and let's put me at 165lbs, 10% body fat, which was my weight 2 years ago. Having a high metabolism and keeping new weight on was a task. I did not want to be those guys putting on 20-30lbs going up to 20+% BF then having to cut all that weight during a prep. I wanted to perfect the clean bulk by adding only muscle tissue and keeping my fat percentage below 12%. I didn't want to put my organs through the added stress of heavier and unnecessary mass and fat gain. Organs are muscle too and work accordingly to your composition. I started to balance my nutrients and timing of them, which I believe is the most important factor. I always kept my protein intake the same, .6 to .8 grams of protein per body pound. You really don't need extra protein. To increase muscle volume you must increase your carbohydrate intake. But in the same regards, increase your energy output in the gym. The energy in to energy out ratio. Food is energy, and motion you create with exercise is energy. If you're in taking more energy than putting out, you'll store energy. Fat is stored energy. If you are out putting more energy than you are taking in, you'll deplete. And although that is not necessarily a bad thing, going on like that would ultimately result in muscle loss and fatigue. Again, this is where nutrient timing and balance come into play.
Example: 5 meals a day with protein at 35g each meal is 175g per day. That is 700cal in protein alone. Fibrous, green vegetables, which I only eat raw, never cooked, I have 3 servings a day at 2 half cups to one full cup. Again, these are revolved around my training times and to keep it simple, 1 cup at lunch, half cup with your pre workout meal and half cup at dinner. There is 4g of fiber in 1 cup of celery. That is about 2 stalks. 4 gram of fiber is 16cal. Plus the other 2 half cups equals to 32cal in vegetable intake. This may vary between different vegetables and portion intake but not by much because fiber is measured the same all around.
As far as carbohydrates go, this is where size comes in. Increase those carbs! Example: with your 5 meals a day, each meal at 80g of carbs per meal will get you 1,600cal per day. As far as fats go, that's at ones discretion. I only get my fats in the morning and at night but depending on my type of program, may even have a serving for lunch. To keep it simple, 15g fat in the morning and 15g at night. Lets do the math.
700cal in protein
1600cal in carbs
32cal in fiber
270cal in fats
Gives you approximately 2600cal in a day at five meals. That's only enough to maintain if your metabolic rate isn't burning more than that a day. Now some people may get even 6 meals so that's definitely above the 2600. Bump up your carbs for breakfast, pre workout meal, post workout meal and even dinner! Yes, you can have carbs at bed time.
My approach is 150g of carbs for breakfast, 200g with my pre workout meal, up to 250g post workout and back to 150 at bed time. now just increasing those carbs for those meals puts me at 1,200cal plus above the 2600, in five meals. At that point, you're sure to put on some size. Just pump it out and rip that muscle! Know your BMR(basic metabolic rate) to better gauge your intake of carbs. Measuring your protein is easy. Just keep it at standard .8 grams per body pound. You won't lose muscle, trust me.
Now at this point, your meals don't need to be all that "clean". You can still eat dirty and huge amounts on any given time and day. As long as you keep to your meal times and portion out, you can indulge in meals of up to even 1500 calories or more per sitting! That's a butt load!!
For instance, breakfast! My favorite meal of the day. Up to 6-8 whole eggs, a 5-7stack of pancakes or waffles with syrup, your OJ and any fruit! Heck, you may even get some hash browns. Huge meal. Don't be afraid to pack on the food. It's the snacking and eating again shortly after that kills your gut. Wait it out. And next meal can even be some steak, 6-8oz, a loaded sweet or baked potato. Yes, including all the caramel, marshmallows, pecans, honey and cinnamon for the sweet potato and some cheese, sour cream, chives and tomato for the baked potato plus your choice desert! Spike that insulin for training pre or post! Remember, we are trying to maximize our pumps and expansion of muscle.
These are some examples of what I do when I'm upping my carb intake and spiking my insulin.
A) 1.5c raw oats in the morning with any fruit and raw honey
B) Pre workout meal (approx 2hrs pre)
6oz choice of lean protein
8-10oz Sweet Potato also in honey but, i do add cinnamon to this mix to lightly prolong the absorption and maximize my workout. You're definitely ready 2 hours later for an awesome pump session.
C) Post workout, a Baked Potato, also n honey. I'll consume this within 20min of ending my workout so that by 45min post workout, I'm having my lean protein source(not necessarily a shake) consisting of egg or lamb with raw, uncooked vegetables.
D) Carbs at bedtime! Loaded Sweet Potato or a huge bowl of Pasta!
Do NOT neglect your vegetables. They are crucial in balancing of your hydration levels in and out of the muscle tissue. Responsible for sending messages, metabolism, disbursement of nutrients and absorption of minerals into your cells. Not to mention, the reduction of fat accumulation.
Save those dirty meals for the harder training sessions. I use them on chest, back and leg day. And the occasional free day where I just want to indulge in anything cake, ice cream and bread!
In conclusion, our metabolisms vary from one individual to another. The thing about the bulk, is it has got to be timely and precise. Most guys eat just to eat and that's not the proper 'clean bulk', that's just getting fat. Carbohydrates are specific in its functions in your body and you have to balance that energy in to energy out. Carbs help with muscle growth and fat loss but, if misused, will eventually result in sugar stores and then fat stores. Pump it out before it stores. All carbs have a different function for different and specific times of the day according to your training schedule. Keep your protein the same, keep your veggies consistent and play with your carbs, all of them. Find which work well for you and enjoy eating too. Just adjust the amount you take in. Balance is key.
You don't train to lose!