So it is that lovely time of year again. The time for cookies, tamales, warm nights in and sleeping in over time. There’s something so magical about this time, we spend all of our money, and if we’re not careful- all our damn macros ( and some).
The beauty of all this is you can utilize all the overeating ( why fight it) and cozy time spent in doors for some gains.
The biggest mistake I see amongst female athletes is constantly being on a diet, or in a caloric deficit. For fat loss, this is beneficial ( obviously), but if you feel you have hit a plateau, it may be time to consider a lean bulking phase.
“According to Wharton, 10 pounds of muscle would burn 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat would burn 20 calories”.
So basically, the more muscle you have, the more energy you expend. This will make cutting in the summer easier, and you’ll look more sculpted.
I personally balance a “lean bulk” with the occasional “yolo” moments. I do know people that do 100% clean bulks, but that’s no life I really want to live. I eat clean enough the rest of the year, I allow myself a 70/30 split of clean foods and “yolo” food during my bulking.
HOW TO BUILD LEAN MUSCLE
1) Caloric Surplus
May I say it again? Yes lady, eat more. You need to eat more to develop muscle. I start by going 10% above my maintenance calories and weigh myself every week. If I’m gaining too quickly, I scale back, if I’m not gaining, I eat more. I eat a plant based diet, but aim to eat 0.8-1x my bodyweight in protein, 0.3-0.5g of fat per lb. of bodyweight and the rest in carbs. Carbs are so important in bulking. Please don’t cut them. I also incorporate a BCAA supplement for recovery.
2) TAKE RECOVERY TIME SERIOUS
You’re recovery during this period is so important. You should take at least one day off in between training a muscle group (everyday is NOT glute day ladies), sleep at least 8 hours a night, and take at least one day a week off from training. I also like to give myself 2 weeks off from training every 12 weeks to allow my body to reset and recover.
3) LIFT HEAVY
Now is where you’ll put that pumpkin pie to good use. Use those extra calories to hit PR’s, and challenge yourself. I recommend lower reps, and burn out accessory exercises after heavy compound lifts to really burn out your muscle.
4) DO CARDIO SEPARATE
I always recommend this, but especially for building phases. Don’t totally quit cardio, you need it for heart health, but do it on a day where you won’t be lifting. Two to three 30 minute sessions a week should be adequate, and keep you from gaining excess fat during a bulking phase.
5) DON’T GO CRAZY
Yes, you’re bulking. We want to build as much lean muscle without gaining 25 lbs of fat. I’ve seen it too many times where a friend went yolo, made really good gains but had to diet extra hard and basically lost those gains trying to lose the excess fat she put on. Its about balance, 70/30 friends! A couple cheat meals won’t be bad, but cheat marathons… yea that won’t be good!
Good luck making those gains! Look out for my CQ @HOME Booty Building Program, launching January 2018 at barbella-apparel.com