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22 February 2018

My First Ever Bulk | What I've Learned & What I've Gained

My First Ever Bulk, What I've Learned & What I've Gained, eating clean, meal prep, carbs, protein
The first thing I noticed when doing this bulk was how lovely it was to have a few extra calories for the winter months! I started my bulk in October & lasted for 4. But why did I chose to bulk? It was partially because I wanted to gain strength & muscle, but mostly because I enjoy a challenge. I wanted to explore the unknown & experience for myself what I have seen so many other people do. I also wanted to test the correlation between my food & my training & learn a lot more along the way. All of which I have now experienced.

As I mentioned, the bulk lasted for 4, where I slowly increased my calorie intake by 50 a week, until I was eating 350 extra calories a day. My macros were 30% fat, 30% protein &  40% carbs initially - with the emphasis on carbs to consume my extra 350 calories. As for my foods, they were mostly clean (around 80%), as although you're bulking, you still need to fill your body with good, useful foods - unfortunately not donuts & take outs... Then it came to my workout. I've been training around 4-5 times a week - a few more rest days to allow my muscles to rest & repair. My training has been more strength focused, really pushing myself - less reps, more sets, heavier weights & longer rests. And admittedly cardio needs building up again! I have been incorporating my cardio into HIIT ab sessions instead. For more details of how to begin a lean bulk, have a read of this post.

My First Ever Bulk, What I've Learned & What I've Gained, workout plan, weight training, back, shoulders, gains, weight training
Now onto the important bit. What have I learned & what have I gained from this experience?

I have learnt to love my body even more so. Yes I've put on a little round the edges, but I know it's only temporary, that it's part of a process & that I am proud of just what my body is achieving. So honestly, I don't care. This is the first time in my life I can say I don't care about putting on weight!

I have learnt how much extra food my body can consume & not blow up like a balloon! I feel I now have a more trusting relationship with food - as in if I go over my calories, with the right foods & am training, I know the calories are being put to good use. I guess I know more about fuelling my body now.

I have learnt how nice it is to eat the extra calories over winter. To have more constant meals & snacks. I don't know if it's mind over matter, but I feel like it kept me a little warmer over winter, having a hearty hot meal at lunch.

I have gained so much strength. 3 months ago, I was just about squatting my bodyweight & now I'm upping my squats by 5kg each week -  currently on 85kg. And every single time I squat or deadlift or lift a little more, I feel a buzz of excitement!

I have gained confidence with my lifting. Before the idea of lifting so much was daunting, but I am learning to break through that fear, as I know that is the biggest thing holding me back. If my form is good, I have a spot & I increase the weight slowly, I have confidence that it will be ok.
My First Ever Bulk, What I've Learned & What I've Gained, workout plan, weight training, abs, muscle, lean
And I have gained weight! 2kg to be precise. Body fat percent has increased by only 1% - chuffed / shocked it's not more! And muscle? We'll I've gained almost 1kg - which I am so pleased about, considering how much harder it can be for women. I am also surprised since December & January I was sick & not eating much for a few weeks.

So with all that said, yes I am really happy I tried bulking. Will I do it again? Hell yes!!! Same time next year I think. I have gained so much more than muscle on this journey, but strength, pride & confidence. I also feel so much more at piece with my body, with every new adventure I take in fitness. I appreciate my body more & love it for what it has achieved, so to hell with any haters! Plus, I'm convinced my ass has grown (should have done after all the squats!) - so win win all round. Next stop? Lean for Lent - slowly bringing my calories down to maintain & eating IIFYM for 40 days, followed by easing into a cut for summer. Feel free to join me! :)

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