What is Bulking?

what is bulking

There has been a bit of confusion amongst our readers when it comes to the term “bulking.”  Bulking should not simply refer to working to gain muscle mass, though that’s certainly the greatest portion of it.  Bulking is one of three cycles practiced by the most serious of athletes, body builders, and fitness freaks.  The other two phases are cutting and resting.  Perhaps down the line, we’ll spend some more time on the cutting phase and the resting phase but today, we’re going to be clearing up some of the ridiculous misconceptions about the term bulking.  As you read, please keep in mind that there are a variety of methods that can be used to have a successful bulking phase.  We’ve broken this blog post down in to the three most common methods to practice bulking on your quest to pure muscle gain.

GOMAD Bulking

A few months back we wrote a blog post about the GOMAD diet.  Previously viewed as a fad, it’s clear that the GOMAD diet is an effective way for individuals training to gain a seriously significant amount of weight in just a matter of weeks.  GOMAD, if you recall, stands for Gallon Of Milk A Day.  The full fat milk that you’re ingesting as a regular part of your diet will definitely pack on the pounds but those pounds don’t consist of visceral fat alone.  Much of that weight, assuming you continue to work out, will be muscle mass.  Following the GOMAD bulking diet with a cutting phase will leave you with a good bit of muscle that you didn’t have prior to the GOMAD exercise [1].

Clean Bulking

We actually JUST talked about this in our “How to clean bulk” blog post, so let’s just do a quick review.  Clean bulking tends to be slightly less effective than the other methods but doesn’t result in extreme fat gains.  Since you don’t really pack on a bunch of fat, your cutting cycle can be a bit less strict.  The KETO diet is a good example of clean bulking as you try to consume very few carbohydrates and substitute them with even more proteins [2].  Keep up with the exercise and you’ll see a difference, especially if you supplement intelligently.

The Intense Bulk Plan

The newest and most difficult bulk plan.  The intense bulk plan requires you to eat a lot.  Pretty much constantly.  Okay, maybe not quite that bad but the intense bulk plan is what professionals like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Terry Crews do.  The idea here is that you’re going to be in such good shape that your body can withstand literally hours of workouts each and every day.  Since you’re in the gym that often, you can’t ignore the caloric deficit that you’re putting your system in, which means you need to eat.  You can’t just eat anything though because you’re trying to build as much muscle mass as you can.  The intense bulking, also known as extreme bulking, requires most people to over double their usual caloric intake [3].  What’s more, 75% of those calories need to be from protein.  I hope you like chicken!


  1. Yuri Sukenobe,1 Masakazu Terauchi,corresponding author2 Asuka Hirose,1 Miho Hirano,1 Mihoko Akiyoshi,1 Kiyoko Kato,1 and Naoyuki Miyasaka1
    Normal/high-fat milk consumption is associated with higher lean body and muscle mass in Japanese women aged between 40 and 60 years: a cross-sectional study
    BMC Womens Health. 2018; 18: 32.
    Published online 2018 Feb 2. doi: 10.1186/s12905-018-0525-0
  2. Salvador Vargas,corresponding author1,2 Ramón Romance,2 Jorge L. Petro,3 Diego A. Bonilla,3,4 Ismael Galancho,5 Sergio Espinar,5 Richard B. Kreider,6 and Javier Benítez-Porres2
    Efficacy of ketogenic diet on body composition during resistance training in trained men: a randomized controlled trial
    J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018; 15: 31.
    Published online 2018 Jul 9. doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0236-9
  3. Gerald T Mangine,1 Jay R Hoffman,1 Adam M Gonzalez,1 Jeremy R Townsend,1 Adam J Wells,1 Adam R Jajtner,1 Kyle S Beyer,1 Carleigh H Boone,1 Amelia A Miramonti,1 Ran Wang,1 Michael B LaMonica,1 David H Fukuda,1 Nicholas A Ratamess,2 and Jeffrey R Stout1
    The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men
    Physiol Rep. 2015 Aug; 3(8): e12472.
    Published online 2015 Aug 13. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12472
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