Workout Radically: Bulking Under House Arrest

By October 28, 2020 October 30th, 2020 Bulking

Give Me Bulk Or Give Me Death!

Bulking Under House Arrest


I have to stop short of saying I’m a prisoner in my own home, but in a lot of ways it’s been true. Starting in March, like it or not our lives changed…dramatically(drastically if you prefer). Since then all of us have done without a lot of things we took for granted, like seeing our friends wearing masks only on Halloween, going to a concert or getting a haircut. But most of all we miss being able to walk into our neighborhood gym after a long stressful day and breaking a sweat while getting our pump on. Or seeing our gym buddies, bunnies or trainers and pushing each other to do more. Now we’ve been forced to look at ourselves in the mirror and watch the gains of last year melt away.

Well I say, “Self-Pity I Spit On You!”, hell life is full of chaos and change, so just deal…and deal I will. Give Me My Bulk Or Give Me Death! I’m taking my fitness freedom back and if I have to make some changes to do it all the better. Only the Strong survive and the Strong Adapt! So I sat down and modified my approach to bulking, I adapted it to a more home-based approach, doing more with having less. I won’t be locked out of the things I love! The following is my homebrew for putting on more size, in this the season of bulk. I hope you get fired up too, take back your bulk and inspire those (less positive) around you to do the same!

As the year winds down, we can all agree that we’re not going to mourn the end of 2020. And while for some, the arrival of Fall means time to dust off those decorations you just yanked from storage or carving the holiday beast, for people like us it signals the coming of something much more sacred – bulking season. The time to put on size.

But for those of us who still haven’t set foot in a gym since March – a timeline that on a calendar marks just 7 months but under the lock-down of quarantine seems more like 7 years – the mere prospect of bulking season may feel impossible. Can you really head into the growing season without buying an entire gym for whatever space you can cram it into in your home? Well, we’re here to finally give you some good news: the answer is yes.

In previous years we’ve pointed to the fact that many bodybuilders have given into the idea that bulking season is an excuse to forego aesthetics in the name of “putting on muscle,” which loosely translates to gorging on ultra-processed comfort food while lifting as heavy as possible in order to add a layer of fat on top of any gains that might be had. With the growing need to get creative in order to achieve any sort of physique goals, we have the unique opportunity to do bulking season “right” this year, meaning adding on precious muscle without the extra fluff.

“Bulking Right Now Means Less Effort Cutting Later”

Don’t get us wrong – you’ll probably be putting on a little fat in addition to your new gains. But there’s a way to bulk without having to spend more time and struggle to cut in the spring to make up for it. Putting on muscle is no easy feat, so we dug into the latest research and put together this guide complete with diet, training, and supplementation to get you there even while under house arrest.

 

Part One: Diet – Eat To Live Eat To Bulk

We all know that putting on a solid 5-10lbs of lean muscle will look a lot more impressive than 15lbs of muscle covered by another 25lbs of fat. And let’s be honest – chowing down everything in sight won’t do your health any favors either. That’s why we’ve created a customized diet program that takes into account your individual needs so that if we face another round of barren grocery stores, you can use whatever you find in the back of your pantry to create a well-rounded nutrition plan without sacrificing your progress.

The Season Of Size

Let’s start with how many calories you should consume per day. We will go with a fairly simple method: taking your daily maintenance calories and adding 400 calories a day. This will allow you to gain just under 1lb per week. In order to build muscle, you have to be in a calorie surplus, but not so great that you are adding copious amounts of fat as well. The trick is keeping your body from decreasing insulin sensitivity, which inhibits muscle growth.

First, calculate your Daily RMR, or Resting Metabolic Rate, which is about how many calories your body burns just by going about its normal daily processes. Then, multiply that number by your activity factor, which accounts for exercise and any other activity you may do during the day to get your total energy expenditure (TEE). You’ll have to do this for each day of the week, the formulas below are guidelines based on DAILY rates, so if Monday is a heavy workout day you will consume more calories than say Tuesday, which may be you recovery day, capeesh? Or you can make it all a sh*t ton easier using your Fitbit, Apple or Garmin watch to track your daily calorie burn rates.

Activity Factors: 

  • Very Light (mostly sedentary, office work) = 1.2-1.3
  • Light (about 30 min of moderate exercise) = 1.5-1.6
  • Active (about 3 hours of moderate exercise, including biking and walking) = 1.6-1.7
  • Very Active (labor intensive job, full-time athlete, vigorous planned exercise) = 1.9-2.1

Step One: RMR = Weight (lbs) x 10

Step Two: RMR x Activity Factor = TEE

For example, a 180lb man who is active would find:

Step One: 180 x 10 = 1,800

Step Two: 1,800 x 1.7 = 3,060

Step Three: 3,060 + 400 = 3,460 calories per day

“protein synthesis is increased by the insulin response to eating a meal”

Next you will want to calculate how many grams of protein, fat, and carbs you need to eat following these guidelines. For protein, we are going to stick to 1.5g/lb of body weight. Fat will be 0.5g/lb, and the remaining calories will consist of carbs. Protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram each, and fat is 9. So, using the example above of a 180lb man:

Protein: 180 x 1.5 = 270g (270 x 4 = 1,080 calories)

Fat: 180 x 0.5 = 90g (90 x 9 = 810 calories) 

Carbs = 3,460 – (1,080 + 810) = 1,570 calories, or 392.5g carbs

Ideally you will space your food into 4-6 meals per day, as protein synthesis is increased by the insulin response to eating a meal. You will want to spread your protein intake fairly evenly throughout the day to take advantage of this as well. Finally, there is a 90 minute window after your training session in which your body uses the intake of protein and carbs to maximize gains by increasing recovery and protein synthesis. This is the “anabolic window” during which you will consume a post-workout protein shake with a carbohydrate supplement (see part four for more info).

So what should your meals consist of? In order to get optimal results from your diet, ideally you’ll stick mostly to “clean” foods. This meaning lean sources of protein (eggs and egg whites, chicken breast, turkey, greek yogurt, lean beef, etc.), whole grains (brown rice, wheat pasta, potatoes, etc.), plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats (avocado, olive and coconut oil, nuts, etc.).

That being said, as long as you hit your macros for the day, you can make significant mass gains without adding pounds of fat while still enjoying some treats here and there, or making due with whatever you have on hand. This doesn’t give you permission to turn your diet into an all-you-can-eat free for all, so make sure you’re falling within 5g of each macronutrient daily.

 

Sample Bulking Menu for 180lb man (274g protein, 86g fat, 389g carbs):

Meal One: 3 whole eggs + 4 egg whites, ¾ cup oats, ½ cup blueberries, ½ tbsp coconut oil

Meal Two: 5oz 2% Greek yogurt, 1 cup strawberries

Meal Three: 8oz turkey breast tenderloin, 2 cups brown rice, 2 cups broccoli, steamed

Meal Four (pre-workout): 2 rice cakes, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1 banana

Post-workout recovery assist shake: 2 scoops protein, 1 scoop carbohydrate complex

Meal Five: 8oz 93% ground beef, 1 wheat bun, 2oz avocado, 10oz (raw) sweet potato, 6oz grilled zucchini

Meal Six: 1 scoop casein protein with water – let’s be honest YUM!

 

Part Two: Weight Training – Change Is Good + Cheap And Good

Turns out you won’t have to recreate your entire gym at home to build extensive muscle mass? Here’s where that all comes together, in fact, three different plans for you based on the equipment options at your disposal. While we understand that it’s become next to impossible to find any weights in stores (that haven’t been price jacked to black market levels, anyway), we do suggest that at the very least you find a set of resistance bands to add extra tension to your workouts (search Amazon for “resistance bands”, there are good options today like the one’s below for $20 bucks, stackable to 150lbs – Full disclosure we don’t make a damn thing if you buy them).
Resistance Bands For Bulking - Full Disclosure: We Don't Make A Damn Thing Off These
 
This workout split might be a little different from what you are used to. Instead of a body part split, we’re going to focus on increasing training volume by doing full body workouts with focus sessions in between. While you won’t be torching individual muscle groups daily, you will increase both the training volume and frequency, leading to greater muscle growth (4). Remember how Arnold used to train twice a day to grow? This is an advanced adaptation of his concept.

You’ll add in abs as well three days a week on nonconsecutive days where you feel comfortable. We’re bulking here, so we’re going to completely eliminate traditional cardio and instead aim for 10,000 steps per day. There is also an optional yoga session, but basically the idea is to spend some time focusing on stretching your muscles after you’ve spent five days hitting them hard.

Both programs will also feature focus sessions – specific days using only resistance bands to get a pump going in your muscles. This will not only increase the volume for each muscle group during your non-lifting days, but will aid in performance and growth (2, 3). You’ll perform 15-20 reps of each exercise for 3 sets, with your goal being to have the target muscle group feel full after each set.

 

Limited equipment option:

“regardless your mindset will remain the same: train hard and push it to the limit”

Drum Roll Please! Now for what you’ve been waiting for – how you’re going to bulk without your beloved barbells. This approach will be somewhat variable depending on what sort of equipment you have on hand, but regardless your mindset will remain the same: train hard and push it to the limit. 

Without heavy weights, it’s going to be difficult to put the necessary stress on your muscles to create microtears that lead to growth, but not impossible. The program below can be done solely with bodyweight or with added resistance from bands and dumbbells, and the help of a chair and/or table.

That being said, the key here is going to be time under tension (TUT); that is, making each muscle work to full capacity by increasing the time spent on each movement to push growth. Sets will continue in the 4-5 range with reps falling between 8-12, and the greatest challenge will come from the TUT, around 40-50 seconds for the entire set (4-6 seconds per rep).

Remember, your muscles don’t see workouts in terms of number of reps, but rather in terms of overall load. So give each workout your all and you’ll reap the rewards.

Here is your training split:

Monday: Full Body

Tuesday: Focus Session + Abs

Wednesday: Full Body

Thursday: Focus Session + Abs

Friday: Full Body

Saturday: Rest/Yoga

Sunday: Rest

 

 

Outside Gym Access Option:

For the full body sessions, we will be keeping reps in the low to midrange at 6-10 reps per set for 4-5 sets after you complete all warm up sets. The most important aspect of the lifting is that you lift at a moderate pace without momentum (ie. 2 second eccentric movement followed by a 2 second concentric movement) and lift heavy enough to fail within that rep range for maximum hypertrophy (1). Lift Rest periods should be limited to 60-90 seconds.

This program will also feature focus sessions – specific days using only resistance bands to get a pump going in your muscles. This will not only increase the volume for each muscle group during your non-lifting days, but will aid in performance and growth (2, 3). You’ll perform 15-20 reps of each exercise for 3 sets, with your goal being to have the target muscle group feel full after each set.

Here is your training split:

Monday: Full Body

Tuesday: Focus Session + Abs

Wednesday: Full Body

Thursday: Focus Session + Abs

Friday: Full Body

Saturday: Rest/Yoga

Sunday: Rest

 

 

Part Three: Supplementation – Work Smarter Not Harder

Supplements are like the secret sauce that will help take your fitness goals to the next level. Taken alone, the only difference your see is how much your wallet shrunk. But put in the work, and supplements can give you the added edge to get results you’ve never seen before.
Top 10 Bulking Supplements For 2021

You will definitely want to take a bulking agent – a supplement designed to assist your body to increase anabolic activity and muscle building potential – especially if you have to get a little extra creative with your workouts. You can add tons of lean mass and improve your strength gains when following a proper training program. Opt for a natural anabolic if you’re just starting out or want a plant-based option, or for advanced results check out a bulking agent like Super Mandro or a Strong Bulking Stack. Getting a bulking stack is nice because it includes everything you need for your cycle, such as on cycle support and post cycle therapy; other options are available too.

Using a preworkout is also a great way to increase your energy levels when it comes time to train. We all have those days where we feel sluggish or didn’t get enough sleep. Using a preworkout formula will give you that extra dose of motivation to not only hit the gym, but complete your workout with enthusiasm and energy you may not have known you even had.

A good, quality protein powder is important after a weight training session to help your muscles repair and recover faster. Stay away from protein “blends” – you want high quality whey or vegetable protein that will provide plenty of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle, straight to your body. Also opting for a slow-digesting casein protein at night will help your muscles stay fueled during sleep.

Along with your post workout protein shake, you may want to add in a carbohydrate complex. With all the heavy training days, you will exhaust your muscles’ glycogen stores. The carbohydrates will go straight to replenish your muscles at the optimum time for consumption to increase recovery and growth.

 

Progress

Find Your Body Fat Percentage
As with any program, tracking your progress is a crucial component in assessing whether you are headed in the right direction. Take measurements weekly, including weight, chest, waist, hips, arms, and thighs, as well as body fat if possible (can be taken by any knowledgeable personal trainer or you can try it your self – FIND BODY FAT PERCENTAGE). Also, snap monthly photos in your swim suit. The camera never lies, and this will help you make sure you aren’t gaining the wrong type of body mass (i.e. fat). Besides you want to get practice taking those shots for when cutting season rolls around and you’ll be showing off your chiseled physique across social media.
 
So, how long should you be bulking for? Well that depends on a few different factors. Even those who are genetically gifted can only put on a several pounds of quality muscle per month without help. Make sure you are setting realistic goals for yourself. 5-10lbs of muscle in a 12 week period for instance is a reasonable goal. Use your body fat and weight to determine whether you are gaining any muscle. 
 
You also don’t want to bulk for too long – gaining and losing body fat will make your body hold onto it more stubbornly. Meaning if you gain a ton of fat around your love handles several times a year, it will become harder to get rid of as time goes on. Once you feel like your body is starting to gain more fat than anything else, it’s time to start reevaluating whether you want to continue or you want to start a new program to show off that newly gained hard muscle. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404827/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23669815
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5873332/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322023636_Evidence-Based_Guidelines_for_Resistance_Training_Volume_to_Maximize_Muscle_Hypertrophy
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285070/
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