Is Bulking Worth It?

After reading about what Marky Mark Wahlberg went through to prepare for his role in ‘Pain & Gain’ we were reminded of attempts made when we were younger to put on significant amounts of muscle to our sometimes unwilling frames.

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Marky Mark’s diet consisted of 10-12 meals a day plus two or three mass gainer shakes.  Meals would begin at 4:30am and even continue after going to bed at 9pm. That’s right, he would wake up at midnight, still full from dinner and eat again.  His diet included steak, fish, pasta and two whole rotisserie chickens a day.  He claims that after a while, food began to lose any real taste.  Sound fun?

This is a pretty normal regimen for action stars.  Christian Bale did it to prepare for Batman, Chris Hemsworth did it to prepare for Thor, and even Brad Pitt adhered to a pretty miserable diet to play Achilles.

These examples are probably more extreme than what any normal person would want to do, but if you’re already used to exercising and want to put on significant muscle, it’s going to require eating a lot more than you are now.  It also requires sustaining those habits because if you want to maintain that desired weight, you cannot just revert back to a normal diet after you’ve achieved your goal.  Ever notice how actors are quick to slim down to their natural body size after filming is over?

Along with a big diet, the best method to gain weight is with the ‘bodybuilder plan’.  That’s 5 or 6 days a week, for up to two hours per session, in the gym, performing almost exclusively heavy lifts with long rest periods between sets.  Cardio and metabolic conditioning has to be kept to a minimum.  Some people prefer this workout style, but it does little in the way of functionality, and only provides excess, often useless mass.

Bulking definitely has a place for many athletes, power lifters and bodybuilders, but before you decide that approach, you should determine if it’s appropriate for your goals and schedule.  Make sure you are dedicated to eating and spending a lot of time at the gym.  Recognize that a bigger does not necessarily mean stronger or more fit.  Gymnasts, who use only their bodyweight to train, are not the largest athletes but can be stronger and capable of more impressive feats than lifters.  Also, size can come at the expense of muscle definition, speed and agility.

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We’ve tried bulking before and decided it was not for us.  We prefer efficient and fun workouts with reasonable diets.  Plus, we'd take Superman or Spiderman in a fight against The Incredible Hulk any day.

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