So, I'm currently in a bulking phase or what I'd rather call a growing phase. The goal is to gain as much lean mass as possible through proper nutrition and heavy, intense training while minimizing fat gain. Since you must eat in a surplus and maintain a positive caloric balance to build muscle, some fat gain is inevitable. I decided after my first physique show in May that I needed to gain size to be truly competitive in the physique competition world, and also, I simply love muscle and want more of it. So, I'm about one solid month into my current bulk. The first few weeks after my competition were a bit challenging as I had to determine my next step and then switch gears from cutting to building. I honestly jumped up in weight quicker than I wanted because I had to learn (the hard way) about reverse dieting which is increasing your calories (SLOWLY) so that you can carefully recalibrate your metabolism which slows during a contest prep cutting phase. So, here I am a little over two months since my first contest. I'm up significantly in weight from my contest weight, but I want to emphasize that it's not healthy to remain or attempt to remain at contest weight or body fat percentage. For a contest, you are in "peak" condition and if you stayed there, it would not be a "peak". So, unless you are prepping for a consecutive contest after competing, you want to slowly regain weight back to a maintenance weight and healthy body fat percentage. With my weight increase, I've jumped up 15 pounds in lean mass(not all due to pure muscle gain)...much of it being due to increased muscle glycogen (with muscle glycogen, comes water), but no doubt, I've gained some muscle mass (and some fat too, but that's normal).
Note: Lean mass and body fat measurements are being calculated via skinfold caliper measurements and scale weight taken weekly.
During the last two weeks in particular, I've seen some significant results that I had to share. This is the quickest that I've EVER had such an increase in muscle and strength. My diet has remained consistent, so the only attributable change in the last two weeks was in my training program. I decided to focus very intensely on the mass builders...the big, major players...the compound lifts.
Mass Attack: progress report...two weeks ago, I restructured my lifting program to be heavily focused on the big compound lifts...it's a 4 day lifting program with a rest day between each. 3 days are focused on squats, deadlifts, bench press (alternating days between incline and flat), and heavy barbell rows. I do those major lifts 3X per week and I complement them with assistance and auxiliary (isolation) exercises. The assistance/aux lifts vary each day, but I focus on certain areas with extra intensity based on areas I need to improve. The 4th day is a weak point training day to attack my lagging areas with extra work. Initially, I was concerned that doing major compound, heavy lifts 3X per week was borderline overtraining, but in two weeks, since I've started this program, I've seen a 2 lb jump in muscle/lean mass gain and my auxiliary lifts have increased significantly...for example, I went up 20 lbs on my leg extensions in two weeks! Talk about strength gains! So, my experiment has shown me that the real mass builders are the tried and true heavy, compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, heavy rows, and bench press. No need to reinvent the wheel to see results...focus on the major compound lifts. Compound lifts allow you to use heavy weight, target multiple muscles, and follow the natural movements of our bodies in order to develop symmetry and size.
Compound Major Lifts
3 Days Per Week: barbell back squats, straight leg heavy barbell deadlifts, bench press (flat/incline), heavy bent over barbell rows
Assistance & Auxiliary Lifts: (these lifts compliment the above compound lifts and are divided up among my 4 days of training)--
Cable Chest Fly, Pull-Ups, Chins, Lat Pulldowns, T-Bar Rows, Cable Rows, Seated Barbell Shoulder Press, Arnold Shoulder Press, Smith Machine Standing Shoulder Press (Front/Rear), heavy hanging lateral raises, rear delt lateral raises, face pulls, Skullcrushers, Rope Pressdowns, Preacher Curls, Barbell Curls, incline dumbbell curls, hammer curls, leg extensions, hamstring curls, calf raises (seated and standing), glute kickbacks and glute pressdowns
I train my shoulders twice per week because I feel that the delts are the capstone of the arm and thus accentuate the rest of the arm nicely. I also train calves 2-3 times per week. I've been hitting my back hard because I need to widen out my back and develop my lats more to downplay my naturally blocky waste. A work in progress...stay tuned...
I love bodybuilding! Bodybuilding is truly an art!