Tips For Adding Winter Muscle Bulk
As the dark and cold winter evenings quickly approach us, the shift in seasons marks the switch in periodisation phrases for many bodybuilders. Not every gym goer is familiar with training periodisation, although some may be implementing the method into their training plan without realising it! Periodisation is simply the cycling of various training methods with each phrase geared towards a specific goal. In bodybuilding the dietary, supplementary and possible performance enhancing drug use will also reflect the goal of the current phrase.
As a basic overview, a bodybuilder may “bulk” over the winter months. The goal during this phrase is to bring about maximum muscle growth (with less regard to body fat levels). This is achieved via training methods, heightened dietary intake, supplements, and possibly performance enhancing drugs. Bodybuilders who use anabolic steroids can use compounds which bring about maximum muscle gain with less regard to minimising water retention. As the summer approaches the goal shifts away from increasing muscle mass and is geared towards losing body fat whilst retaining the newly acquired muscle tissue. A cardiovascular program may be introduced, or increased in activity. Training will still be intense, yet we can expect intensity and energy levels to reduce as calorie intake decreases due to a more restrictive diet. Anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs which the trainee may use will likely be those which promote fat loss and retain muscle mass whilst bringing about minimal water retention (water retention results in a less defined “puffy” look).
A few tips for adding bulk (suitable for natural bodybuilders)
There has been some debate over recent times regarding the benefits and negatives of having a midnight snack opposed to allowing for a full (undisturbed) night sleep. Generally it is unnecessary to wake up to eat more food during night, but if a bodybuilder is finding it difficult to gain weight due to lack of calorie intake during the day then the night time could provide a good time to eat that little bit extra. This would not be necessary for the majority of bodybuilders.
Choose a snack which is slowly absorbed. Cottage cheese is an ideal choice, or possibly a serving of a casein based protein shake.
Add a serving of quality high calorie mass gainer to your diet
Lots of wholesome foods are required for adding quality muscle mass, yet sometimes people struggle to gain weight even after consuming a large quantity of food (referred to as “hard gainers”). In such a situation a good quality mass gainer drink could be consumed to increase calorie and protein intake to promote growth (a decent product may contain 50g of protein and 500cals per serving, so a half serving may even be suitable). Ensure the mass gainer is of good quality. Reflex Instant Mass is such a quality mass gainer drink, containing a protein blend and low GI carbohydrates from organic oats and barley.
Have a one or two cheat meals, but don’t go OTT
An occasional cheat meal is not going to diminish your hard work and can be vital for sanity. The key is to not go overboard. The food choice should not change drastically when bulking; foods should remain “healthy” choices (low in saturated fats and sugars) yet consumed in higher quantities. A bulking phrase which consists of lots of take away meals will likely lead to excessive fat gain with less quality nutrients consumed to support muscle growth and repair.
Lift heavy and reduce isolation exercises
Energy levels should be at their highest during a bulking phrase so this should be taken advantage of during gym sessions. Exercises which require multiple muscles will be favoured over isolation exercises. Squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, bench presses, dips, rows, and chins will be of choice during this phrase. Repetition range should still reflect the goal of inducing muscle hypertrophy, with a moderate range generally optimal (between eight and twelve per set).