The following article was sponsored by The 110 Lb Hulk

I packed on 45lbs of lean muscle, and so can you with this clean bulking diet.

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5’6, 125lbs and feeling that I was at my genetic limit, vs. 5’6, 170lbs and feeling like a genetic beast

Weighing 110lbs and fed up with being bullied and rejected by girls, I discovered bodybuilding towards the end of high school. Throughout college I continued lifting weights and made good strength gains, but no matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t get past 125lbs. Frustrated and unwilling to risk the dangers of PEDs, I immersed myself in books and Internet forums for the next 6 months with all signs eventually pointing to a woefully inadequate diet. Although I felt I was eating a lot, my diet had nowhere near the quality or number of calories that a hardgainer needs to put on serious lean mass.

In bodybuilding speak there are generally two accepted phases: the bulking phase, which entails eating larger quantities of food with the goal of putting on as much muscle, and the least amount of fat, possible. Opposite to that, we have the cutting phase which entails losing the most fat, while sparing as much muscle possible in the process.

Bulking can further be divided into two types: a dirty bulk, and a clean bulk. A dirty bulk generally involves eating large amounts of food with little attention paid to the nutritional density of the diet (aside from possibly extra protein). A clean bulk, however, involves not only paying attention to the amount of food being consumed, but also to the quality of food and specific macronutrients in each meal (namely protein, fat, and carbohydrates). As you can probably guess, a clean bulk is much more effective than a dirty bulk, but also requires much more willpower, planning, and mental fortitude.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to focus on the exact bulking diet I used to pack on 45lbs of quality muscle. After bulking, I still had to spend 3 months in a cutting phase to get as lean as I wanted, however I was able to retain almost all of my muscle and about 95% of my strength throughout the entire process thanks to the clean bulking strategy that had resulted in little excess fat.

One thing I’d like to note is that these results did not happen overnight—this was the result of 3 years of hard, consistent work in both the gym and the kitchen. If it was easy, then everyone would be jacked right?

Muscle Math And The Art of Keeping Things Simple

Fully bulked -- before and after

Fully bulked — before and after

Before we dive right into the actual nutritional plan, let’s make sure that it’s going to make sense for your particular body structure.

Everyone has a different height, weight and body type, so just because 3000 calories a day worked well for me, it doesn’t mean that 3000 calories will work well for you. My successes started as a 125lb hardgainer, while you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum. Luckily the math and experimentation is almost the same in each case.

First, take your current weight (in lbs) and multiply that by 15. That number represents a rough estimate of how many calories you’ll need to eat each day in order to stay the same weight. Sure there are a million complex formulas on the Internet that will give you varying numbers, but remember this is just an estimate and no calorie calculator is going to be 100% accurate.

Next, increase that number by 500 and make sure that you consume very close to that number of calories each day (while eating clean) and making sure that roughly 30% of your calories come from protein, 20% from fat, and 50% from complex carbohydrates. For the next 30 days, eat as consistent as you can on this plan, while lifting weights 3 – 5 times a week.

If you find you’re gaining 1 – 2lbs a month with very little noticeable fat gain, then your body is responding well and you should continue on this path. If you find that you’re putting on too much fat, subtract 300 calories a day for the next month; likewise, if you’re not gaining quickly enough, add 300 calories a day. Continue adding or subtracting until you’re gaining lean mass at a steady pace (1 – 2lbs a month if you’re just starting out).

This is a one-time experiment, and through these trials you’ll begin to understand what your body responds to — future clean bulks will now be a piece of cake.

My Sample 3000 Calorie Clean Bulking Diet

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A typical Sunday in my kitchen

This meal plan represents a typical day for me while bulking. I’m a very busy person and I don’t have a lot of time to cook, so I prepare as much of this as I can on weekends and. While I vary the types of food I’ll eat for maximum nutrition, I keep it pretty much the same every day in terms of the macronutrients – in other words, I might substitute chicken breasts for lean ground beef, fish, or steak, and frozen vegetables for raw spinach. Nothing complicated, but enough to keep the diet sustainable over long periods of time.

7:00 am 2/3 cup of oatmeal mixed with fruit, scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites), 1 slice of whole wheat toast with sugar free jam, water, multivitamin Calories: 543; Protein: 39g; Fat: 16g; Carbs: 60g
10:00 am Apple, 2/3 cup trail mix, water Calories: 617; Protein: 13g; Fat 29g; Carbs: 75g
1:00 pm 4oz chicken breast, 2 medium sweet yams (or sweet potatoes), vegetables, water Calories: 452; Protein: 54g; Fat 5g; Carbs: 59g
4:00 pm (pre-workout) 1 cup Greek yogurt with sliced up banana and strawberries, water Calories: 412; Protein: 30g; Fat: 1g, Carbs: 70g;
7:00 pm (post-workout) Protein shake with 2 scoops whey, water, 1/3 cup of oatmeal, frozen fruit, and 1 tbsp. of natural peanut butter Calories: 438; Protein: 55g; Fat: 7g; Carbs: 39g
8:00 pm 4oz chicken breast, 300g brown rice, vegetables, water Calories: 547; Protein: 45g; Fat 6g; Carbs: 78g
Before Bed (Optional) Casein shake with 1 scoop and a banana. Calories: 225; Protein: 25g; Fat: 0.5; Carbs: 31g

Total Calories (without optional shake): 3009; Protein 226g (30%); Fat: 65g (19%); Carbs: 381g (51%)

Note: Anytime you post a nutritional plan on the Internet, you run the risk of inciting rabid flame wars. Some people will look at 50% carbohydrates as being too high, but remember that while we’re bulking, we’re trying to maximize our workout intensity. Consuming lots of high quality carbohydrates is going to ensure that we’re going to be energetic for our workouts and that we can recover quickly enough to tear it up in the gym the next day as well.

What’s Next?

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Shredded for the summer

After you’ve spent 6 – 8 months bulking up, you’re probably going to want to get yourself shredded for the summer or a special occasion. If you thought that bulking was hard, the cutting phase will separate the men from the boys. This is where the numbers become much more precise and small mistakes will cost you hard earned muscle.

I’ve written extensively about this and many other topics in my 300+ page book The 110lb Hulk which includes everything you need to know to reach your body’s full potential, including:

  • 40+ illustrated exercises that will leave you pumped hours after leaving the gym.
  • 5 sample workouts, and 6 sample diets tailored to your current goals of bulking or cutting.
  • Mastering the mental game, bodybuilding science, and tips on how competitive bodybuilders peak for a single day.

Available on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other major online book retailers.

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