Getting bigger can be a challenging and slow process, and in my opinion is even harder to do than losing weight. Getting jacked (aka gaining weight) through a bulk phase means eating A LOT of food, all the time. I have compiled a list of tips to help you bulk effectively and gain as much muscle as possible without gaining too much fat. Gaining fat is inevitable whenever you gain weight, but if you follow these tips, you will still be able to maintain a lean physique throughout your bulk phase.
Keep it clean!
Now depending on your metabolism, some people can eat whatever they want and still gain weight without becoming a pig (getting fat). Let me tell you, those people are rare for one and two that is extremely unhealthy even if you don't gain fat. Third, getting your calories and macro nutrients (proteins, carbs, fats) from unhealthy sources is not near as effective for gaining muscle. 20 grams of protein from a big mac is not near as high quality of protein as 20 grams of protein from grilled chicken. Eating 2000-5000 + calories of clean foods is what makes the bulking phase so challenging, it is a lot of food. You have to eat all day and won't feel like eating some of the time. But I can promise you that it will be worth it. You will stay relatively lean and feel much better throughout the whole process.
Gain weight slowly!
Try to gain between half a pound a week to 1 pound a week max. Gaining muscle is a tricky and slow process. If you try to gain more than a pound a week, then you will most likely be gaining more fat than muscle. You can only gain muscle so fast, so do not try to push the envelope as you will only gain too much fat. Now, there are exceptions. If you are gaining a pound a week and notice that you are not getting any fatter, then I would say ramp it up. If you can gain 2 pounds a week and experience minimal fat gain then great, keep going. But I would say that most people simply cannot do this. To prevent yourself from gaining too much fat do yourself a favor and take it slow.
Increase your calories slowly!
This tip goes hand in hand with gaining weight slowly. DO NOT go from eating 1400-2500 calories a day to 3000-5000 + calories a day overnight. This will only freak out your metabolism and cause you to gain more fat then wanted. My recommendation would be to take it slow and to increase your calories by 500 every week until you reach your calorie goal. Slow and steady wins the race.
Still do cardio!
A common mistake I see whenever someone is bulking is that they quit doing cardio completely. While doing cardio at a high intensity every day is not a good idea, you should still be doing low intensity cardio at least a couple times a week for a few reasons. Doing cardio every day at a high intensity is a bad idea because you are trying to gain weight, and burning more calories only means you have to eat more. Doing low intensity cardio at least two times a week is a good idea because cardio boosts your metabolism (meaning you will be hungrier and can eat more) and it is great for maintaining cardiovascular health. Low intensity cardio will also help you burn off any of the fat you have accumulated throughout your bulking phase.
Keep your macro nutrients in check!
When you are trying to gain muscle mass, it is CRUCIAL that you maintain your macro nutrients in the proper way. The macro nutrients are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Each one of these macro nutrients plays a crucial role in muscle building, and none of them should be neglected. 8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is recommended while you are bulking. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you should eat between 160-200 grams of protein a day and no more. Don't believe the common misconception that you need more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, its complete BS Your body can only use so much protein and too much (over 1 gram per pound) is bad for your kidneys and can be stored as fat. For fats, 30-35% of your calories should come from fats. Each gram of fat is 9 calories. So if you eat 3000 calories a day you would do (3000 X.30) / 9 = 100 grams of fat. That would mean that 900 calories (100 grams of fat x 9 calories per gram) are coming from fat, which would be 30 percent of 3000 calories. The rest of your calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs and protein are both 4 calories per gram, so just divide whatever you have left calorie wise by 4 (since carbs are 4 calories per gram) and eat that many grams. So if you are eating 200 grams of protein a day (200 X 4 = 800 calories) and 100 grams of fat a day (100 x 9 = 900 calories) and are eating 3000 calories a day, you would do the equation (3000- 1700 (combined calories from fat and protein) = 1300 calories / 4 = 325 grams of carbs per day.
I know all of this information might seem overwhelming and hard to commit to, but I can promise you that once you get the hang of it that you will not want to stop. Gaining muscle mass can be tricky, but is paramount in creating the physique of your dreams. Not to mention that the more muscle mass you have, the easier it will be for you to lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. Follow these steps and I can guarantee that you will gain muscle while keeping your physique relatively lean.