How to Bulk like a Bodybuilder

Have you ever seen a body builder stuffing their face with any food they can get their hands on? That means they are in the bulking phase of their training and will do anything they possibly can to get as big as possible before the cut. We’re going to fill you in how to bulk like a bodybuilder, all the way from diet, to training and what supplements to use.

What is bulking?

There are two main phases to a bodybuilder’s training, bulking and cutting. The bulking phase is where they add as much mass and muscle as possible. From here comes the cut and this is the part most people don’t like. You’re trying to become as lean as possible, which means a calorie deficit and cardio.

During the bulking stage, you will be eating more and lifting heavy weights to increase your muscle mass. There are two ways you can go about it, a clean bulk or a dirty one.

Clean bulk

This is when the calories you consume are as healthy as they can be. Usually you will be eating similar foods that you would on your cut, just more of them. It is normally around a 70/80% to 30/20% split of healthy eating to unhealthier meals.

Dirty bulk

This is exactly what is says on the tin. You are simply trying to consume as many calories from whatever foods you want, and they don’t necessarily have to be healthy. Usually a dirty bulk includes lots of high calorie foods such as pizza, cake and red meats.

Diet – How to bulk like a bodybuilder

When it comes to nutrition, there are certain things you need to be aware so that you can bulking properly. The ultimate aim is to be in a calorie surplus, which means consuming more than you are expending, the complete opposite of the cutting phase.

In-order to do this accurately, you will need to sit down and calculate your calorie expenditure on a daily basis. Everyone has a BMR which is your basal metabolic rate.

This is the number of calories your body would naturally burn without ANY movement or exercise.

From here, you can calculate how much daily activity you do in a day and then work out how many calories you need to maintain, lose weight or bulk, the latter being the one you need. You can find an online calorie calculator here.

When it comes to what to eat, that depends on whether you want to do a clean or a dirty bulk. However, regardless of the one you choose, you need to ensure you are hitting your calorie targets and getting enough of each of the macro nutrients.

You will need enough protein, especially in the bulking phase, as it helps to replenish the muscles after they have been put through the strain of a workout. Carbohydrates are the fuel source you need to maximise your workout and restore glycogen after the session, so you will need to ensure you maximise your use of carbohydrates around training times. Finally, there are fats, which when it comes to bulking, are simple an easy way to get more food in as they are calorie dense.

The finer details…

Now you know how many calories you need and the types of foods you should be consuming, it’s time to work out the finer details. As you’ll be consuming more calories than normal, it’s a good idea to roughly divide your calories equally between each meal.

Most bodybuilders have around 6/7 meals a day, so you can divide your calorie total by the amount of meals you will be eating. From here, you can work out your calories per meal manually, or use calorie counting apps such as My Fitness Pal.

Training – How to bulk like a bodybuilder

Training is a crucial part of the bulking process and your main workout goal should be to gain strength and build lots of muscle. There are some key pointers that will help you to plan your training programme and make things easier

Compounds are essential

Compound exercises use large muscles and lots of them, such as squat, deadlifts, bench press and row. These four exercises should be the foundations of your training programme as they will help you build the most amount of muscle.

Accessory exercises such as bicep curls should still be incorporated, but won’t be as important for larger muscle growth.

Cut down on cardio

As this is your bulking stage, you want to add mass, and doing cardio will be counter-productive to that.

Therefore, you should minimise your cardiovascular output as much as possible. It is still necessary to have good cardiovascular health, therefore, getting you 10,000 steps a day and being active is important.


You want to be lifting heavy if you want to build muscle, therefore volume is key. This means plenty of sets of each exercise. As well as this, as you are strength training, you will want to stick to a repetition range between 4-8 in-order to increase muscle strength and not endurance.

Furthermore, progressive overload is incredibly important in your training. If you aren’t progressing with your programme then you won’t be increasing muscle. Keep track of what weights you are lifting each week so that you can make small increments of progression.

Supplements – How to bulk like a bodybuilder

Supplements are the icing on the cake when it comes to any form of training programme, although useful, they won’t be unless you have your training and nutrition down to a T. There are several supplements being sold, therefore it can be hard to filter through and understand exactly what you need. Three supplements that will aid you with bulking are:


Helps to boost your energy levels and give your muscles that extra kick they need to last through a strong session. Find out more about pre-workout here


Protein shakes are a great way to help the muscles recover and replenish, plus it can be an easier way to add extra calories.


This is one of the most tested supplements and can also be found in pre-workout. Creatine helps to increase the energy supplied to the muscle cells so you can lift more and don’t exhaust as quickly.

Time to bulk like a bodybuilder

Now you’ve got the essential, you can begin planning your bulk phase of training. This is the easy bit and you’ll probably enjoy it much more than the summer cut…

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