Author Topic: Meal Plans/Bulking Up  (Read 1762 times)

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Offline RaptorChops

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Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« on: January 28, 2017, 08:27:48 pm »
So I'm curious as to how some you guys bulk up. For the past few months I've been trying to find a good bulking meal plan to go by and I just can't seem to find one I can enjoy and do. I'm not good with the whole counting calories (which is probably my first problem). I've lost so much weight in the last year and I don't know why but I'm thinking it's stress with my job and getting depressed, which equals my lack of motivation.

My areas I really want to bulk up are my chest and my arms and I haven't seen much change (maybe others see it and I don't) since I started lifting weights. I know it takes a while to see development but damn it's so discouraging when you feel like you've been trying. I drink protein shakes after every work out and take some supplements as well on my work out days. Maybe I'm just doing it all wrong.. but any insight on what you all do would be awesome!
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I dunno.

Offline FTMax

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2017, 09:31:01 pm »
If you want to add mass, you've got to be sure you're eating at a caloric surplus. Which isn't hard to do, but it's easiest to be sure if you count calories. It's tough to make sure you're eating all of those calories in quality food, but it's doable. Also, I've found that getting over invested in my diet/fitness was a good way to de-stress from my stupid job :) Might be a good idea for you too?

This is a good calculator to help figure out where you should be eating at:
http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

Now. This might be gross and way too much for some people, but I've found it's easiest for me to get calories in liquid form, so this gets my vote as far as easiest bulking diet method:

https://betterhumans.coach.me/the-1-000-calorie-protein-shake-201936321b13#.k3tilsycl
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Offline TransAm

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2017, 10:30:23 pm »
As far as food goes, I stick to the usual culprits--fish, lean beef, chicken, complex carbohydrates, cruciferous veggies--but I also don't try and 'deny' myself a ton, either. I just try to watch the portions when I do indulge.

FTMax is certainly right; you have to consistently eat a surplus to see gains. Typically this means a surplus in cleaner proteins and some fats when you're looking to add muscle mass as opposed to fat mass.
Another issue you could be having may not necessarily be related to your diet. Are you challenging yourself during the workouts? It's easy to get stuck in a rut doing the exact same movements for the exact same reps with the exact same rest periods with the exact same weight for months on end. It gets boring, you stop seeing results and you eventually get so discouraged that you end up wanting to quit. It's a very common thing.
Another possible sign that your body's no longer exerting the effort necessary to spur change is not feeling sore the day after a workout. I'm not talking about intense pain, of course, or feeling nearly crippled. And though soreness in and of itself isn't necessarily a prime indicator of adaptation or growth, if you're never experiencing it and you're also not experiencing gains, its absence is something worth noting. Muscle fibers have to endure some damage to grow--this is why soreness isn't a bad thing--but if they're simply going through the repeated motions of a stale routine, they'll remain stabilized and unchanged.

I've tried a few different brands of protein powder over the years and my favorite has to be GNC's ON Gold Standard Whey. It blends perfectly with zero grittiness, the sugar content is extremely low (between 1-4gs), it's 26gs of protein per scoop, there are 27 different flavors to choose from and I've seen excellent gains.  I divide a shake between a pre and post workout (with Fairlife skim milk, three cups at 13gs of protein per cup and a scoop and a half of the whey). At almost 80gs of protein in just the shake, it really boosts my intake.

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Offline RaptorChops

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2017, 11:00:04 pm »
Thanks guys for the quick responses!

I've been trying to read up more on eating and what not to just kind of keep my mind occupied. I don't eat terrible it's just me not eating enough on some days and getting lazy about it. I probably need to get into a better pattern of pre cooking my meals too so I don't skip meals. I will definitely check out the link about the liquid stuff because I could definitely do that with no problem.

When I do work out I don't think I challenge myself enough. I do try and increase the weights when I can and I probably should look into different exercises so I'm not getting use to them. As far as protein powders I tried the Sun Warrior stuff but it really made my stomach upset. I'm now using BSN Syntha-6 protein powder which I actually enjoy since it tastes good. I've already gone through 1 tub of it. I'll look into that GNC Whey also.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I dunno.

Offline Viktor

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 08:41:49 am »
I'm interested as well. Atm I'm on a low-carb diet but do eat tons of protein, (fish/chicken mainly) haven't noticed a significant loss of energy because I still have a few excess pounds to shed for surgery, and my body is busy eating those up, but have noticed increase in muscle mass all the same.

When the excess weight is gone I'm going to have to switch to adding carbs to have the energy for proper workouts. But I guess you do have to have a regular intake that gives surplus and take it at the right times before or after your workouts. Bodybuilding forums and bodybuilders I know seem to stress the precision of this stuff.

My problem is I like low carb diets, they make my mind less foggy and I become less tired and more alert. The idea of going back to carb intake doesn't appeal.

Offline FTMax

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 09:50:24 am »
Are you on a low card diet or a no carb diet? IMO, most bodybuilding diets don't stress carbs too much, and you can play with the macros to really make it what you want (emphasizing protein and fat over carbs for example).
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Offline Viktor

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 11:10:19 am »
At the moment it's no carb, seems to suit my physiology better, but I guess it won't hurt provided those carbs are put to immediate use.

Offline Asa Spades

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 05:52:23 pm »
(Disclaimer that this is mostly what I've picked up over time and from personal experience to some extent)

It sounds to me like your workout program isn't working out for you. That's probably going to be your biggest issue in your case since you said you aren't too bad in the diet department. That can make or break things. If you haven't been getting noob gains (I'm assuming) and you aren't starving yourself or eating pure, proverbial crap, that's where I'd look first.

It isn't just about not pushing yourself enough, though that is a part of it. You weren't specific as to what you meant by that, but in case it's helpful to you or someone else... The point is to go to failure - what that means is your last rep is the last one you can do with good form. So if you have to do 10 reps of dumbell chest press, you pick a weight that you think you can do just 10 reps with good form and then adjust the weight for your next sets if needed (like if you couldn't finish or it was too easy). Poor form is where you're starting to "compensate" to get the rep - so other muscles are starting to take over, you're going lop-sided, you're using momentum, that kinda thing. The exercise loses it's meaning pretty quickly after that. Typically something like 2 seconds up, brief pause, 3 seconds down though you might have some exceptions. But that can really help to take some of the internal effort away because the "rules" are already set.

For the diet part - having a nutrient-dense diet is more important than anything else. Focus on that first. You'll probably see gains from that alone, actually, even if you aren't upping your cals. After that, you can start looking at increasing your calories. If you increase your cals without enough nutrients in your diet, your body isn't going to have much mortar for to build muscle.

What you end up eating doesn't have to be complicated. It's better if it's simple. Start with items that are as close to their natural state as is reasonable, then go nuts with however you like them done up. There are of course some processed foods that are good for you like PB (especially if you can go with the 100% peanuts stuff) and EVOO and whole grain bread. But you get what I mean. To start out, I wouldn't worry too much about specific stuff like macros and micros or whether agave or honey is better for you, unless you're into that kinda thing anyways. Don't skimp on the veggies ofc but you know that. The rest can come over time when you're ready/able.

Sorry that was longer and more lecture-y than was probably necessary...
TL;DR - Basically, start with getting your fundamentals down, then you can start going in a more specific route that suits you like gaining mass etc.






Offline RaptorChops

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2017, 09:40:35 am »
I go until my arms are pretty much shaking lol.. which I assume is failure. I think I just need to get in some more calories and switch up my work outs a bit so I'm not getting bored and losing motivation. I have noticed my muscles becoming more toned so, I'm probably just trying to discourage myself because of self esteem issues. Also I'm sometimes inconsistent with my meals because of my work schedule so I really need to get my meals made ahead of time. At least I see where some of my problems may be at so I can try and improve.

I just need to encourage myself a little better. It's hard but I'll find a way :)
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I dunno.

Offline TransAm

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2017, 02:27:16 pm »
Failure is when you pretty much couldn't go one more clean rep even if you wanted to due to (temporary) inadequate muscle strength. This is why a rest period is required between sets.
This is why it's also vital to remain conscious of the weight you're using for any given exercise like Asa Spades said.
It's usually a good idea to increase the weight by the smallest increment (which is often five pounds) especially when you're using free weights to reduce the risk of potential injury.
For example:
If you're doing one-arm dumbbell rows with a 40lb weight for 4 sets at 10 reps a piece and you're able to complete all the prescribed reps, it's time to move on to a 45lb dumbbell in future endeavors.
If your next workout with the increased weight looks something like this: 10, 10, 8, 6 (the number of reps you were able to successfully perform), that's normal. Again, once you hit the targeted reps for the increased weight, increase your weight again.
Also, any time you see an exercise with a varied rep range (like if you go on bodybuilding.com or something similar and wish to embark on a pre-set program), like 8-12 for example, *always* aim to hit the 12 reps in your head, especially on your last set. If you aim for 8, you may hit six. If you aim for 12, you're more likely to hit 8-10 which puts you within the rep range. Lifting weights is sometimes a lot more of a mental exercise than people think.


One thing to remember when you're using free weights is to always make sure -you're- controlling the weight and not the other way around. Those people doing sloppy 'reps'/half reps with weights way too heavy for them are accomplishing far, far less than someone using appropriate weights with good form. They're also needlessly putting themselves at a high risk for injury.

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Offline kings joker

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2017, 04:52:28 pm »
What do you guys think about using muscle specific machines over free weights? I know this is a pretty loaded question in that free weights will always give you better form but will using machines just be pointless for those specific muscles groups?

I ask because my school just got brand new machines and I've never been a huge fan of free weights.

Offline TransAm

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2017, 05:16:29 pm »
The biggest issue with solely using machines is that they don't do anything for your stabilizer muscles. You'll make gains on machines, but they won't necessarily be functional gains (IE: useful in real life situations). Your structure will improve without an increase in applicable function.
If you're doing a free weight barbell bench press, you're not simply pushing the bar up; you're stabilizing the movement of the bar, preventing it from swaying, trying to insure that the weight is equally distributed between both your arms and pecs and generally controlling the movement of the bar. In a smith machine press, you're just pushing and giving a slight twist of the wrist when you're done.

That's not to say there's nothing wrong with machines--they can be quite useful when they're utilized *after* a free weight workout to trigger new growth when your stabilizer muscles are spent--as long as they're used sparingly and in conjunction with a free weight routine, in my opinion.
You'd be doing yourself a disservice in the long run by only using them.

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Offline FTMax

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2017, 05:27:36 pm »
IMO, free weights are best but it's not like machines don't do anything. Generally, if the size weights I need or rack I want to work in are available, I will opt for non-machines. But I don't like hanging around waiting, working in with someone else, or deviating from my routine so I'll sub in a machine to get through a workout before I'd do any of those things.
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Offline kings joker

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2017, 05:38:20 pm »
The biggest issue with solely using machines is that they don't do anything for your stabilizer muscles. You'll make gains on machines, but they won't necessarily be functional gains (IE: useful in real life situations). Your structure will improve without an increase in applicable function.
If you're doing a free weight barbell bench press, you're not simply pushing the bar up; you're stabilizing the movement of the bar, preventing it from swaying, trying to insure that the weight is equally distributed between both your arms and pecs and generally controlling the movement of the bar. In a smith machine press, you're just pushing and giving a slight twist of the wrist when you're done.

That's not to say there's nothing wrong with machines--they can be quite useful when they're utilized *after* a free weight workout to trigger new growth when your stabilizer muscles are spent--as long as they're used sparingly and in conjunction with a free weight routine, in my opinion.
You'd be doing yourself a disservice in the long run by only using them.



Not saying that I don't want to use my muscles but they are more for looks than they are usefulness. I'd like to pick a girl up with more confidence but I'm really just trying to get the toned look....

Offline Asa Spades

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 03:50:28 pm »
What is it about them you don't like?
Avoiding freeweights can really be putting a limiter on you. Machines aren't terrible and have their place, but you miss out on a lot if it's all you use. I found this article to be helpful, personally: http://www.builtlean.com/2013/06/11/free-weights-vs-machines/






Offline kings joker

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2017, 04:30:08 pm »
I've got chronic neck pain and find that free weights, being more engaging, can aggravate it. I know this is probably something I should take up with my doctor but I generally just try to avoid anything that causes pain.

Offline xSMITHx

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2017, 06:32:18 am »
Food wise, Protein is your friend. I've had good luck with protein powders but be careful; if you don't get some exercise, you may just gain weight.

Offline Contravene

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2017, 03:07:53 am »
I'm trying to get rid of some more body fat but should I go straight into bulking or should I cut to lose weight first then bulk? I've seen some guys say cutting is a waste of time if you're just going to bulk up afterwards unless it's just for maintenance. I don't know, maybe that's a little off topic but I've always wondered.

Offline FTMax

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2017, 12:23:31 pm »
I'm trying to get rid of some more body fat but should I go straight into bulking or should I cut to lose weight first then bulk? I've seen some guys say cutting is a waste of time if you're just going to bulk up afterwards unless it's just for maintenance. I don't know, maybe that's a little off topic but I've always wondered.

I don't think there's a one size fits all answer to this. Seems to be largely based on preference and timing (ie. if you're deciding now in the dead of winter that you want to look good for swimsuit season, a good cut may make the most sense).

I personally like to cut before bulking. Starting with a clean slate (esp. if you are aiming for a certain body fat % range), I think enables me to feel more confident that my gains when bulking are good gains and not junk weight now that I'm eating more.
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Offline Viktor

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Re: Meal Plans/Bulking Up
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2017, 08:23:18 am »
It helps to 'reset' the body in my experience, to get down to the weight you want first then start a new regime. I can't do this at the moment due to a bunch of factors, getting messed up by a past thyroid issue, having to get in shape during my referral period for surgery, and diet which I have to do to lower blood pressure, etc. but I'm still getting good steady adipose loss and muscle gain simultaneously so I don't suppose it really matters. All that matters is you stick to it till you get the result?

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