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"Dirty" Bulking

And why it doesn't work

We need to talk about the dirty bulk. Dirty bulking seems attractive with all of the sweets and family dinners just around the corner. That’s how it works, right? Dirty bulk in the winter and then cut for spring to get your beach bod back? Not exactly.

Studies have shown that the most muscle the average young man can gain in a week is 0.5 lbs. It’s about half that for young women, because of our lower testosterone levels. The further you are away from puberty, the more that number drops. There are a few exceptions, like the rapid “noob gains” you might see when first starting in the gym, but this is the exception, not the rule. What that means is, if you’re gaining much more weight than this during your bulk, it’s not muscle. A certain amount of the weight will be water and glycogen stores in the growing muscles, but this tops out at around 500 g.

You do need to eat at an excess to gain muscle. But your body can exhaust its ability to build more muscle and those calories then go into fat storage. The general rule of thumb is 2500 calories to build a pound of muscle, so let’s do the math. If we divide that over the 14 days it would take to put on one pound of muscle, it’s about 179 calories to add on per day while bulking. ONLY 179 EXCESS CALORIES! That’s maybe an extra protein shake or snack!

So, sadly, you can’t just eat whatever you want and expect to gain tons of muscle. The average person’s calorie intake while bulking should be your maintenance calories (including what you burn while exercising) plus 1-200 more. You also need to watch the macronutrients in your food, because your body needs to have enough protein as the building blocks for your gains. You won’t gain muscle if all you consume is candy and soda.

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