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Natural Ways to Bulk Up
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For the natural bodybuilder, bulking up presents a special challenge. Without steroids to aid in muscle gain, the natural bodybuilder must make the most of training, diet and recovery to be able to progress. With the right natural techniques, even the drug-free bodybuilder can add impressive muscular bulk.
Raise Caloric Intake
The most important factor in gaining muscular bulk is eating sufficient calories. Gaining muscle weight requires eating more calories than you burn, resulting in a caloric surplus. To ensure consistent progress, add 500 calories of protein and complex carbohydrates to your daily caloric intake. If you do not notice muscle gain after a week, raise your daily caloric intake by another 500 calories.
Drug users can get away with lighter workouts because steroids speed muscle growth through increased protein synthesis. For the natural lifter trying to bulk up, heavy weights are an important tool for bulking. Multi-joint exercises, such as the squat and bench press, performed with heavy weights, increase the amount of muscle fibers recruited. By fatiguing more muscle fibers, workouts are more effective. Use weights that only allow you to perform three to five repetitions.
Muscles are composed of about 75 percent water. To keep them growing and healthy, you must drink enough water each day. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends men drink 3.7 liters of water per day while women drink 2.7 liters. To be safe, drink at least a gallon of water per day to replace the water you sweat out during training.
Supplement with Creatine
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound produced in the body. Creatine is used by the body to generate energy during resistance training. Supplementing with creatine improves short-term endurance, allowing you to complete more repetitions per set and engage in more effective workouts. Creatine is regarded as safe by the American Council on Exercise, with no serious side effects.
Immediately following training, muscles are primed to absorb more nutrients than normal. A shake containing whey protein and simple carbohydrates will counteract the muscle breakdown that normally occurs during training. By minimizing muscle breakdown, muscles recover and grow at a faster rate.
- The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Dobbins; 1999
- American Council on Exercise: Healthy Hydration
- American Council on Exercise: Supplement Specifics
Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of "The Business and Practice of Personal Training" and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.