The Winter Bulk

For bodybuilders, winter season is also known as bulk season. It’s the season where they increase their calorie intake and stack the weight on the bar to build muscle. It’s also the time of year when they utilise the anticipation of competitions, and the cold weather to push themselves further than before. It sounds simple – but, in reality, everyday life can easily get in the way of your routine and it can be difficult to stick to a strict schedule.

Thankfully, protein nutrition brand MaxiNutrition has prepared an easy-to-follow winter bulk regime to help you gain size quickly.

Eat more calories
But keep it healthy. You’ll need to consume a caloric surplus, but make sure they are ‘good’ calories. You still need to consider the nutritional value of the food you eat. Avoid fizzy drinks and refined carbohydrates. Swap them up for water and wholegrains. As a general rule, your diet should consist of the three main macronutrients, good carbohydrates, lean protein and essential fats.

When building muscle, you must ensure you keep your protein levels high. Following a workout, it’s wise to drink a post-workout protein shake to boost your protein levels. This also starts the repairing process for your muscles.

Rest more
Rest is so important in the muscle building process – so don’t miss this out. Schedule rest days into your regime and make sure you have enough sleep so that your muscle have plenty of opportunities to repair before your next workout.

Compounds are king
Whilst most workout plans usually advise you to combine a good mix of both isolation lifts and compound lifts, when it comes to stacking on the size, compounds lifts are king. They are your priority when working out because they place the most amount of pressure on your central nervous station, which promotes a release of muscle building hormones. Not only that but they target the most amount of muscle groups in a singular motion.

The four-week programme
The following is a sample five-day-per-week program that can be used throughout winter. Because mass is the goal, we’ll be cycling through a two-week ‘strength routine’ followed by a two-week ‘volume’ phase to maximise gains.

During the plan, you should ensure you’re lifting close to failure. What this means is that you should feel fatigued by the last few reps of each set. If it’s easy, it isn’t working.

The first two weeks of the program will see you performing heavier lifts for around 6-8 reps at 70-80% of your 1 rep max.

Phase one

Fit rest days in where desired. In the second week, up the weight amount anywhere between 1-5kg.

Day 1 – Back

  • 5 x 8 Barbell Shrug
  • 5 x 8 Dumbbell Raise
  • 3 x 8 Deadlift
  • 5 x 8 Bent Over-Rows
  • 3 x 6 Pull-Ups

Day 2 – Chest

  • 5 x 6 Bench Press
  • 5 x 8 Pec Flys
  • 5 x 6 Incline Bench
  • 5 x 8 Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

Day 3 – Legs

  • 3 x 8 Barbell Squat
  • 5 x 8 Leg Extension
  • 5 x 8 Dumbbell Lunges
  • 3 x 8 Front Squats

Day 4 – Arms And Shoulders

  • 3 x 8 Military Press
  • 5 x 8 EZ Bar Bicep Curls
  • 5 x 8 Overhead Tricep Extensions
  • 3 x 8 Chin-Ups

Phase two

This phase focuses on volume to induce hypertrophy. Ensure you’re lifting a weight that leaves you fatigued by the end of each set.

Day 1 – Back

  • 5 x 12 Barbell Shrug
  • 5 x 12 Dumbbell Raise
  • 3 x 10 Deadlift
  • 5 x 12 Bent Over-Rows
  • 3 x 10 Pull Ups

Day 2 – Chest

  • 3 x 10 Bench Press
  • 5 x 12 Pec Flys
  • 3 x 10 Incline Bench
  • 5 x 12 Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

Day 3 – Legs

  • 3 x 10 Barbell Squat
  • 5 x 12 Leg Extension
  • 5 x 12 Dumbbell Lunges
  • 3 x 12 Front Squats
  • 5 x 12 Seated Leg Curls

Day 4 – Arms And Shoulders

  • 3 x 12 Military Press
  • 5 x 12 EZ Bar Bicep Curls
  • 5 x 12 Overhead Tricep Extensions
  • 5 x 12 Dumbbell Shrugs
  • 3 x 10 Chin-Ups

By running this program over the course of a few months, you should start to see great results. Ensure your protein intake is high, as your body can only build muscle in the presence of amino acids. Hit the gym hard this winter and you’ll emerge with more mass and a better route into the summer shred.