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‘Clean bulking’ is when you sustain your nutritional well-being and you don’t sacrifice your short term health, to achieve your strength goals.
You also monitor on a daily basis the calories and macros that you are eating and ‘clean bulking’ requires a higher frequency of meals.
It also requires that you eat higher quantities of foods and there are few short cuts along the way. Realistically, you will only gain 1 or 2 pounds of muscle mass per month but will gain minimal body fat as opposed to ‘dirty bulking’.
When clean bulking you need to determine whether your goal is cut the fat or bulk up on the muscle.
Just remember, that you will be eating 500 calories more per day from a healthy macro source and this strategy will also minimise you from gaining fat.
You are in charge of the clean foods that you are consuming and preparation of these foods, although time consuming is paramount to the success of your strength gains.
Clean bulking focuses on eating non-processed foods over artificial junk foods. By eating a well-balanced diet of healthy lean meats, complete plant proteins, complex carbs, Omega 3 fatty acids and a rainbow colour of vegetables will ensure that you are eating all of the necessary micronutrients and energy. This will stimulate the hormones to build muscle effectively.
Some clean bulking foods include tuna steak, chicken breast, quinoa, eggs, brown rice and whole wheat pasta.
When the cutting phase is on the horizon, less time will be required for you to lose the fat after using the clean bulk method. A clean bulk usually results in a 75% to 25% muscle gain to fat gain ratio, this is compared to a 50:50 split for dirty bulking.
Therefore, the cutting phase it a lot easier when using the clean bulking approach but this is dependent on factors such as genetics and your age.
Add clean muscle mass tip #1 – Adding protein
Add a protein shake into your pre or post workout schedule, as this will not only help with recovery and replenishing proteins stores but it will also increase your total calorie intake.
Snack on some boiled eggs throughout the day but don’t go overboard with the shakes and egg intake, as this could be entering into the ‘dirty bulking’ domain in terms of calories consumed (although they are healthy calories).
Try to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per body weight per day and stick to this guideline!
Add clean muscle mass tip #2 – Upside of clean bulking
As mentioned previously the biggest benefit is to your health. An added bonus is that you get to hold onto your aesthetics whilst obtaining gains in strength, without getting fat.
The healthier the foods that you put into your body will translate to a healthier fuel source and better utilisation of your energy.
You will definitely be more mentally alert, have enhanced energy levels, improved sleep patterns, less cloudy thinking and a reduction in sickness levels.
All of these positive benefits of clean bulking will help to form good and healthy eating habits; which you can drive forward throughout your training regime.
This will transpire to an increase in energy in the gym and you will be able to train a lot harder, because you have the right fuel to do so.
Therefore, the results of this improved fuel utilisation will definitely improve your strength and muscle mass gains.
Add clean muscle mass tip #3 – Eat enough calories but don’t get sloppy
Always track your progress using a food diary, training log and body weight assessments.
This will determine if you are gaining at all, gaining too fast and/or gaining body fat. This is a very important element to ‘clean bulking’ because if you get sloppy; your bulking will be limited.
You will gain some fat when clean bulking because in order to gain muscle, you need to eat surplus calories.
If you prepare your own food and do the food shop yourself, this should keep you on track during this stage of building muscle.
Some people try to stay shredded while gaining muscle by increasing their cardio and/or reducing the amount of calories. This approach is counterproductive and you will not gain adequate muscle but you will stay lean.
The best approach is monitor your food intake, eat sufficient calories to build mass and still perform some HIIT cardio twice a week.
Add clean muscle mass tip #4 – Using Tabata along with clean bulking
Tabata is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) method that is taking the fitness industry by storm.
The main reason why this training method is revolutionizing the way that we workout is quite simple; it takes a lot less time to get amazing results!
In fact the workouts may only take 4 minutes from start to finish, and the maximal results that are being achieved after this time period are truly remarkable.
You will still need to put 101% effort into the 4 minutes or longer, to optimize your fitness goals and sweating will undoubtedly be on the agenda.
The following is a basic outline of the Tabata training design:
- 4 minutes in duration
- 20 seconds of high intense exercise e.g. sprinting on a treadmill
- Followed by 10 seconds of rest
- Total of 8 rounds per session
Tabata training enhances the ‘after burn’ or EPOC up to 24 hours post exercise.
This increase in fat burning potential is not evident in steady state conventional cardio and has the following key benefits for burning fat and building muscle:
- It increases the fat stores being used as fuel via the release of free fatty acids in the blood
- Enhances muscle and liver uptake of the glucose instead of stored as fat
- Heightened catecholamine levels which are required for breaking down fat
- PFK (phosphofructokinase) increases post work out and this is required to breakdown glucose efficiently
- Helps to preserve lean muscle mass via its anabolic effect e.g. increase in testosterone and HGH
- Stimulates the mTOR pathway which is required to produce new skeletal muscle
Strength gains and clean bulking
One of the best ways to determine if you are gaining muscle; is if you are getting stronger.
You can improve strength without gaining muscle but for the main part strength equals size.
If you are bulking and not gaining strength or losing strength, then something needs tweaking.
Remember to add in your rest days into your training plan and don’t over train any major muscle groups.