How to Gain Weight, Build Muscle and Get Stronger As a Hard Gainer
Is Dirty Bulking Ever Worth It?
Although most people are interested in weight loss, a fraction is looking to gain weight for specific reasons. Dirty bulking is the easiest way to gain weight, build muscles and get stronger, especially for a hard gainer. Dirty bulking refers to taking calculated calorie surplus and combining it with high-intensity resistance training to build muscle and boost strength gains.
Dirty bulking is efficient for weightlifters, average gym-goers, and off-season bodybuilders looking to pack on some size.
Will dirty bulking help put weight?
Dirty bulk involves taking junk foods that contain a lot of calories which helps you grow. Junk foods include carbohydrate sources that are simple, processed, and lack fiber. The idea of dirty bulk is hitting the gym hard and following it up with as much food as you can, whether junk or fruits.
Your body can convert many calories into muscles when you pair high-calorie intake with resistant training or exercise. The quickest way to get calories is by dirty bulking. It’s a fact that you’ll take more calories by eating a Domino’s order compared to eating a lean muscle-building salmon meal.
Although you can’t judge the amount of muscle you put on from the calories you take, the two works hand in hand.
How to Use Bulking to Gain Weight and Build Muscles
The goal of bulking phase is to eat more than what your body needs. The amount of calories your body needs depends on physical activities, gender, and age.
Eat More Calories than Your Body Burns
When you want to add weight, the most important thing is to create extra calorie by eating more than your body’s requirement. You can easily calculate your calorie needs using a calorie calculator then determine how many calories you need per day to gain weight. If you want to gain weight fast, 700 to 1,000 calories above your burn each day will be enough. But, if you’re looking to gain weight slowly but steadily, 300 to 500 calories above your maintenance level is enough.
It’s important to note that calories calculators aren’t accurate, and they give estimates. Thus, you may find the answers vary by hundreds of calories per day.
You don’t need to use the calorie calculator throughout, but you need to determine your calories for the first few weeks to determine how many calories you’re taking in.
Eat Plenty of Protein
Proteins are among the healthy nutrients you can use to gain weight, so feel free to add them to your diet for building muscles. Muscles are made of protein, and thus they’re essential in your diet to prevent existing muscles from being converted into fat.
However, you should keep in mind that protein is highly filling and may significantly reduce your hunger and appetite, thus making it hard to get enough calories. If you’re looking to gain weight, 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is enough. But, if your calorie intake is high, you can consume more proteins.
The high-protein foods you should include in your diet include dairy products, meats, eggs, fish, nuts, and legumes. You can also add protein supplements such as whey protein.
Fill up on Plenty of Carbohydrates and Fat
Taking plenty of carbohydrates and fats is a perfect idea when you’re looking to gain weight. It’s the easiest way to get the surplus calories you require.
Take at least three meals per day
Intermittent fasting is perfect for people who want to lose weight, but doing it when you want to gain weight will make it harder. Ensure you take three meals a day and add energy-dense snacks whenever you can.
Eat Energy-Dense Foods and Use Condiments, Sauces, and Spices
Adding spices, sauces, and condiments to the food makes it tastier and easier to eat a lot. Energy-dense foods are perfect for a hard gainer as they contain many calories relative to their weight.
Examples of energy-dense foods that are perfect for gaining weight are:
- Grains: whole grains such as brown rice and oats
- Fats and Oils: avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil
- Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts
- High-fat dairy: Cream, full-fat yogurt, whole milk, and cheese
- Dried fruit: Prunes, dates, and raisins
- Tubers: Yams, sweet potatoes, and potatoes
- Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, and chicken
Most of these foods are very filling, and thus you need to force yourself to eat more even when full to meet the targeted daily calorie intake. You should avoid taking a lot of vegetables as they leave less room for energy-dense foods.
Lift Heavy Weights to Improve Your Strength
Lifting weights is essential in ensuring the excess calories go to your muscle instead of fat cells. You should go to the gym at least four times a week. Lift heavy weights and gradually increase the volume and weight over time.
If you’re new and you don’t know where to start, consider hiring a qualified personal trainer to assist you. It’s essential to consult your doctor before embarking on dirty bulk and resistant training if you have skeletal problems or other medical issues.
How much creatine to take
Creatine is a muscle-building supplement that helps gain muscle strength, size, and power. Although creatine is very safe, it’s essential to take the recommended amounts since overconsumption may make one experience side effects.
The safe amount you can take is 4 to twenty grams per day.
Top tips to gain weight faster
- Avoid drinking a lot of water before meals as it fills the stomach, making it harder to get in surplus calories.
- Drink milk to quench thirst instead of water.
- Take weight gain shakes that are high in calories, carbs, and proteins.
- Eat more often and squeeze a snack or additional meal whenever you can.
- Use a bigger plate since a small plate makes one automatically eat less.
- Quit smoking as non-smokers tend to gain weight faster compared to smokers.
- Be consistent to see progress, growth, and change in your weight.
Dirty Bulking Controversies
The „dirty bulk” approach, where instead of counting calories you pretty much adopt a „see-food” diet. That is, eat every single thing in sight that even slightly resembles food. Have their pros and cons, and can work to gain weight and muscle, but in hindsight, after over a decade in the gym there is a clear winner if you value getting the best results possible for the hard work you put in the gym and the kitchen.
1. You Can Only Build So Much Muscle At a Time
This is reason enough to cut out dirty bulking from your muscle building strategy once and for all. Your body can physically only build a limited amount of new muscle tissue over any given day/week/month. Read that again so it can sink in because it’s important to really understand: no matter how much you eat and how hard you train, there is a limit to how fast your muscles grow.
Some beginners fall into the trap of thinking that if you eat more, you’ll gain more. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. So what does this mean for your muscle gain diet? Once you reach a certain amount of calories in a given day – ideally a few hundred calories ABOVE your „maintenance” calorie level so you can generate muscle growth in the first place – there’s absolutely no reason to go higher. Once protein synthesis has been maxed out, any additional calories will simply be stored as excess body fat. Which leads us to the next reason to ditch the dirty bulk once and for all.
2. You Will Gain Too Much Excess Fat
With a dirty bulk, and therefore gaining more unwanted body fat than you would otherwise, you’re only making things harder for yourself down the track when you want to burn that fat and get ripped. This is assuming you want to get ripped of course, but I’m assuming you do because most guys don’t just want to bulk up but they want to be lean as well.
Most people prefer having a lean, fitness-model physique as opposed to the bulky bodybuilder look (I’m no different). It looks better and it’s healthier overall. Cutting fat is a tedious, long, and often difficult process to go through, and the more extra fat you gain during your bulking phase, the harder (and longer) you’re making your cutting phase.
3. You’re Making Things Harder in the Long Run
You find a lot of guys get stuck in the back and forth process of bulking up quickly and gaining quite a bit of fat along with a little bit of muscle (because remember you can’t physically build too much muscle THAT fast), and then losing motivation because of the excess baggage and quickly switching over to a serious cutting cycle and then losing quite a bit of their gains as they really try to burn all that fat off with a caloric deficit and a ton of cardio.
In other words, they’re stuck in short term thinking like a hamster on a wheel trying to chase that elusive carrot in front of them. I’ve been stuck in this yo-yo cycle of bulking and cutting in the past, so I’m not judging here. But if you adopt a longer term focus and bulk cleanly and more SLOWLY, and then cut more slowly, you’re minimizing both the excess fat gain during your bulking phase and minimizing the muscle loss when you switch over to a caloric deficit.
So ditch the dirty bulk for good, do a little pre-planning with your caloric intake when packing on that mass, and you’ll be glad you did as you won’t have to endure seemingly endless, tedious cutting periods, and you’ll be maximizing your muscle gains anyway. As a general guideline I would aim for a surplus of 200-400 calories per day ABOVE your maintenance caloric intake).
Is Dirty Bulking Ever a Good Idea?
There are times when dirty bulking just might be an option to consider. Kind of. I mean, when I first started on my journey to gaining muscular weight as a super skinny guy, I did many dirty bulks and whilst they weren’t the most effective way to go about things – they did work to finally put some meat on my bones as I had tried and tried to gain weight for a long time before that with no results.
As a scrawny noob with a high metabolism, going all out and eating everything in sight may just what you need to kick start some growth because you tend to underestimate just how much food you actually need to take in to bulk up compared to what you were eating before in your skinny days. And eating everything in sight and dirty bulking is probably better than not bulking up at all….so everything has its place.
But looking back I would do things a little differently, because I took dirty bulking a little too far in my first few years in the gym and had to spend so much time in cutting phases to get rid of all that excess fat which wasn’t fun. At least not compared to bulking. If I had to do it all again I’d definitely stick to clean bulking as much as possible to minimize the cutting work I’d have to do later down the track. A little planning ahead now will help you in the long run.
So next time you think of pounding down every burger and extreme-calorie mass-gainer protein shake in sight on your quest to bulk up – think again. Or don’t, and learn the hard way with an agonizingly boring, literally painful cutting phase that never seems to end. Cutting is hard; why do you think 6 pack abs are so rare? Don’t make it any harder than it already is by dirty bulking your way to a big beer belly.
To recap, a clean bulk is ideal because:
- You gain less excess body fat
- You can still build muscle at or near your max potential
- Your motivation will be higher during and after your bulk as you won’t feel frustrated by all the excess fat you’re gaining
- You’ll feel better physically and mentally during your bulk and you’ll have more energy
- You won’t need to do a long, boring, frustrating cutting phase to burn all that extra fat once you’re done with your bulking phase
For discerning readers who are thinking, but what about building muscle and burning fat at the same time? Isn’t that possible? Short and simple answer? Nope. Unless you’re a genetic freak, or you’re on the 'roids, it’s just not going to happen unfortunately and you have to accept some sort of fat gain when on a mass-gain program and diet.
I’m not saying it’s completely impossible, but the odds are you won’t pull it off and you’ll spin your wheels. Try to chase two rabbits, ie bulking and cutting at the same time, and you’ll likely catch neither. But with a clever approach to your bulk, you can seriously minimize your body fat gains, maximize your muscle gains, and you’ll be a happy and healthy camper.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand dirty bulking better and what it involves. Dirty bulking is the perfect solution for a hard gainer who wants it to gain weight faster. Eating foods with high calories, fats, and carbohydrates and resistant training help gain weight, build muscles, and grow stronger. Apply the above gaining weight tips to make your journey smoother.
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