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Why Your Bulk Isn't Working

Trying to grow muscle but feel like you're not getting anywhere? Maybe you've been successfully bulking up until now, but you've hit a wall and can't get past it? Give these 5 pointers a read!


Sam Barnes Lifestyle client result

You're Throwing The Kitchen Sink At It

My client Sam (photo above) is a great example for this post. The progress he has made over the past year of working with me is phenomenal. He came to me in April of last year having hit a wall in terms of growth. The solution? Do less. We dropped his weekly sets down from 130 to 70, switching the main focus to optimal exercise selection and intensity, and we also dropped his protein intake down from 230g a day to 150g. More isn't better if what you're already doing isn't working, better is better.


"Better is better."

Not Eating Enough

Ok, on the flip side of that you then have the people who aren't throwing the kitchen sink at it, and possibly aren't even throwing anything at all. A lot of the time people underestimate how much food it takes it grow muscle. If your training and recovery is on point and you're not growing, increase your calories.


This increase doesn't have to be huge. It might even be that just an extra 100 calories is enough to tip the scale, but an increase is going to be needed none the less.


Starting In Poor Condition

9 times out of 10 if you've got to ask whether to bulk or cut first, the answer is cut. You want to be lean when starting a bulk. This won't just help with overall health, but will also allow you to stay in a bulk for longer.


If you continue to push body fat levels really high during a bulk, you'll also be effecting the results you get after your next cut. The more body fat you have, the longer your cutting phase will have to be, and therefore the more muscle you'll risk losing.


Chopping & Changing The Plan All The Time

In the year that I've been working with Sam (minus the time he had off for top surgery) his training has been very similar every block.


He'll run a training block for around 12 weeks, we'll assess how it went, how it coincides with his progress and, if we need to make changes, we will do. However, so far, the changes have been very minimal. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.


"If it isn't broken, don't fix it."

Not Giving It Enough Time

A proper bulk takes a serious amount of time. I always tell clients that, in most cases, the minimum length of time I'd like to keep them in a bulk for is 6 months. However, the longer we can keep them in a surplus, the better. Yes, they'll be mini cuts and possible holding phases along the way but, if you want to gain serious muscle, you have to stick at it for a long time.


Let's use Sam for the last time as an example. Started with me in April 2022. Bulked up to his top surgery in September 2022 (where we actually used his recovery period as a cutting phase), came back to me in November 2022 and, up until now as I'm writing this in May 2023, he's been bulking, and we don't have any plans to stop soon.


Feel like you could do with even more help with your goal of building muscle? Click here.

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