Keep a journal
Use a journal to monitor your progress. Things you want to track are:
- How much weight you are gaining – ideally you want to gain about 1 pound per week. Faster gain is likely to mean that you are picking up more fat than muscle.
- Strength – note any gains in the amount of weight you are able to lift. As you bulk up you should expect to be able to lift more. If you can’t, look for patterns and make adjustments.
- Work out observations – note what you do during each session. You should also include information about how you felt, level of exertion and any other information that can help you monitor progress and track patterns.
- Nutritional intake – when it comes to bulking up you really are what you eat.
Don’t skip the cardio
Bulking up will require that you increase your intake of calories. Yes, you need extra calories but no you should not overindulge. The key here will be balance. Go for quality calories, including at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, healthy fats and whole grains. These will give you the energy you need to fuel hard work outs and to build muscle. Include cardio at least two or three times a week – ideally on non-lifting days – to help limit fat gain that would ordinarily come with taking in extra calories.
What you do when you aren’t working out matters, too
Of course your workout routine is an important component of your bulking up plan. What you do beyond that is also important.
- Take in protein and carbs within 30 minutes of your workout to support muscle growth. Have it with you at the gym to support this habit. Consider protein shakes for their convenience or if you are having trouble getting in enough from your diet.
- Get adequate rest – when it comes to exercise there is a point of too much. Adequate sleep and recovery days are important for bulking up so limit your workouts to 4 or 5 days each week max. Beyond that form deteriorates and muscles miss the benefits of rest including growth hormones that are secreted while you sleep.
- Keep a positive frame of mind – remember to have fun while you work out and stay focused on your goals without driving yourself so hard that bulking up becomes an obsession or a chore.
Finally, be patient with your progress and dare not to compare. Everyone’s fitness journey is different so don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, keep track of your own progress and work on achieving your personal best.