Lean Bulking for Women: How to Bulk as a Woman
“Bulking” is usually a word that women try to avoid while talking about their fitness and wellness goals. But why is that? Is it because it’s usually associated with men’s goals? That women should avoid looking “bulky” because it’s not aesthetically pleasing? Is it because the fitness industry has basically demonized that word entirely?
Whatever the reason, bulking is not usually something on a female's mind while working out since bulking basically refers to gaining weight. But we’re here to challenge that point of view in today’s post because we know that there is a much more effective way to gain weight if you’re looking to add muscle.
We’ll discuss the definition of bulking, why women should consider bulking, how to know if you should bulk and the steps you can take to bulk.
What Is Bulking?
Bulking is actually pretty simple. It means you are intentionally trying to gain weight, with the goal of putting on more muscle mass.
It’s the combination of eating in a caloric surplus (by increasing your daily caloric intake by about 10%) and strength training at least four to five days a week. The result of bulking the right way? Muscle growth and overall change of body composition.
So wait. I need to be in a caloric surplus so does that mean I can eat whatever I want? No, not exactly. While, yes the goal is to gain weight but food quality is super important especially if you’re trying to avoid excessive fat gain.
Why Should I Bulk?
So if bulking means weight gain, why should I do it? We get it, as females it may be hard to get your mind around that concept as we’ve always been told by the media that we need to lose weight, shrink ourselves into itty bitty sizes and a plethora of other toxic messages around body image. However, there are some major (and kind of life changing) reasons why you should bulk as a female. Let’s get into it.
Increases Your Metabolism
Did you know that when you have more muscle, you burn more calories at rest? It’s true. Building muscle increases your metabolic rate even if you’re binging the latest season of your favorite Netflix show.
Totally Changes Your Body Composition
What’s body composition? It’s used to describe the percentage of fat, muscle, bone and water in your body. Since muscle takes up less physical space in your body than fat, your body composition determines leanness.
If you’re looking to lose weight, your first thought may be to do more cardio. Although cardio is great for your overall wellness and calorie expenditure, it’s not the best strategy when you want to see muscle definition. In order to change the shape of your body and have more muscle definition, you have to build muscle through lifting weights and eating adequate amounts of protein.
Everyday Activities Become Easier
Building muscle can help boost your endurance and strengthen your tissues, bones and ligaments which can lead to better performance in the gym and in everyday life. Since resistance training makes you stronger, daily activities like climbing stairs, carrying groceries or maintaining great posture becomes easier.
How to Bulk The Right Way
Getting In A Caloric Surplus
Since you should be in a caloric surplus while bulking, we first suggest figuring out how many calories you should eat. In order to do that, you first need to know your total daily energy expenditure aka (TDEE), which is the number of calories you burn each day. Also referred to as “maintenance calories.”
This helps you determine how many extra calories you have to eat to gain weight. Check out this online calculator to help you determine your TDEE. In general, you’ll want to start increasing your calories by about 10%. For example, if your maintenance calories are 2700, you can add 270 calories each day.
Let’s talk about macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat. Getting adequate amounts of each macro will make sure you are fueling your body in the best way possible and ensure your bulk is much more successful. The amount of each macro you need will differ from person to person.
Protein is absolutely essential for both building and maintaining muscle mass. As a rule of thumb, you should eat 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. If your activity level is high then your protein intake can be higher, if it’s lower, then your intake can be lower as well.
Carbohydrates are also necessary to ensure your body has the right amount of energy to get through your weight training sessions. They’re also great for recovery and help replenish the glycogen stores you lose during your gym sesh. Women should aim for about 2-2.5 grams of carbs per body weight per day. For example, if you’re 150lbs, you should aim for 300-375 grams of carbs per day.
Fats are great for overall satiety, hormone regulation and vitamin absorption. You should aim for 0.5-1 gram of fat per kilogram of body weight per day.
Important tips for bulking without gaining a lot of fat include increasing your calories gradually, consistently hit your macros and getting adequate sleep each night to reduce stress and cortisol levels.
Resistance Training And Bulking
Weight training is the best way to build muscle while you’re in a bulking phase. Something you should keep in mind is that when you’re trying to add muscle, it’s important to train for hypertrophy. This means you actually need to lift enough weight to induce the muscle damage needed for your muscles to grow bigger.
This usually means you should aim for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps or until you reach failure. Then, using the strategy of progressive overload (progressively increasing your weight) to increase your muscle strength overtime. To maximize your muscle growth, you’ll want to train four to five days a week.
What Supplements Should You Take While Bulking?
When you need that extra kick to take your sweat sesh to the next level, you can reach for Cira’s super healthy pre-workout powder, Pump. All the gains without the jitters, this stimulant-free supplement is specifically designed for our women warriors. Pump also acts as a natural appetite suppressant by keeping those cheeky 3pm cravings in check. The result? Your workout game elevated.
Creatine helps the body use energy stored in your muscles when you engage in high intensity exercise like HIIT, lifting heavy, sprinting or jumping and so on. In short, creatine helps your muscles work harder, longer.
This powerful supplement has reached hall-of-fame-like status in the fitness community for being one of the best out there for enhancing strength and increasing muscle mass. Adequate amounts of creatine can also help boost muscle recovery, prevent injury and even regulate your body temperature.
Although creatine is also found in protein-rich, animal-based foods, it may prove to be difficult to get an adequate amount each day. Especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. How do we combat this? High quality supplementation.
Cira’s Creatine Monohydrate kicks your athletic performance up a notch and boosts gains in and out of the gym. Packing a punch when added to your water or tasty smoothie, this is the champion ingredient your workout didn’t know it needed.
As we’ve stated, protein is essential when it comes to bulking. It can be super overwhelming to see how much you need on a daily basis. Afterall, there’s only so much eggs, chicken, greek yogurt and protein bars you can eat, right? That’s when a high-quality protein powder comes in handy.
Our Bright Whey supplement powder is your all-in-one fitness bestie. Packed with 25 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs and 120 calories per serving, it’s a no-brainer for fuel on the go. Zero added sugar but still tastes like a treat. No blender needed. Just add one low carb scoop of Bright Whey to your shaker bottle along with your beverage of choice. Psst, our amazing customers love to add unsweetened almond milk to their protein shake for that extra bit of tastiness.
Need a vegan alternative? Our high quality, plant-based Bright Vegan formula is uniquely made with organic pea protein isolate, sunflower seed protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, watermelon seed protein and mung bean protein with a little dash of natural stevia extract for the perfect amount of sweetness. With classic and delicious flavors like chocolate and vanilla, we’ve got you covered.
Bulking doesn’t have to be a bad word. Weight gain doesn’t have to be a bad phrase. As long as you gradually increase your daily calories and are willing to put in solid effort at the gym, you will be rewarded. We absolutely love celebrating strong, wellness warriors!