Bulking — it’s become a popular name for gaining a lot of muscle in a short amount of time. It’s fairly obvious as well; you’re bulking up and getting big. Though it’s a common fitness goal, especially for men, it’s not easy. There are numerous factors that dictate failure or success, and the process of building muscle on its own can be enough to persuade many to refocus their fitness goals.
Though having a proper diet and sleep schedule are tantamount to achieving your goals, you also have to put in the effort — that is, get your ass in the weight room, burn some calories, and leave some serious puddles of sweat on the floor. You have to lift, run, jump, and stretch. You need to do work, son.
But a common problem that often stops people in their tracks is a lack of resources. That may be a lack of time, or a lack of equipment. Even if you have a gym membership, you might have a lack of transportation to get you there. Or, perhaps your gym doesn’t have the equipment you need. There are a lot of possible roadblocks, but if you can successfully figure those things out, there’s one thing that you shouldn’t let stand in your way: not having enough weight.
You see videos and pictures of guys putting up tremendous amounts of weight — stacks of 45-pound plates or dumbbells that have triple-digit figures imprinted on the side. You may think you need those, but you don’t. You can get big without having big-time weights. Sure, it may mean you’re restructuring your routines, but again, you shouldn’t let it stop you.
So, when your workout plan calls for more weight than you can manage to squeeze onto a barbell, or more than is available in dumbbells or kettlebells, what are you supposed to do? The trick is to crank things up to 11 — or go for volume. Do more repetitions. Your end goal is to tire out your muscles and exhaust them. Then, your body can start the muscle-building process.
Basically, you can boil it down to this: more reps, less weight. That’s it. If you don’t or can’t stack on the 45-pound plates, than simply do more with less.
According to numerous studies and sources, increasing your rep volume while lifting lighter loads is as effective a way to build muscle as going for a few reps with heavier loads. It all comes back to fatigue — fatigue is the point at which your muscles are sputtering to a stop and you start struggling with your lifts. Even if you’re bench pressing a low amount of weight, with enough reps, you’re eventually going to tire out and struggle to get the bar back up.
That point is the key — and you’ll feel it after you finish your set. Refocus your goals from hitting max weight to max reps. If your muscles are spent at the end, then you can leave the gym satisfied.
This gets back to the very way in which our bodies actually build muscle. When we work out, we’re actively doing some damage to our tissues; we’re breaking down old fibers through exercise, which are getting worn out and aren’t providing us with the strength we require. Through exercise, we’re continuously breaking down old fibers and replacing them with new, stronger, more flexible tissues. That’s how you actually end up gaining strength and bulking up. It’s through that continuous process we reach our goals.
This is where diet becomes so important — perhaps more important than getting enough workouts in. Your body needs resources to rebuild itself and replace the broken down and discarded tissues and fibers with new ones. If you’re filling yourself with junk food, or food with little nutritional value, you’re going to have a much harder time getting there. By supplying the building blocks from vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins, your body can effectively build the muscle you’re looking for.
But it all comes back to muscle fatigue, which is where your body is doing the demolition. Even if you don’t have the big amounts of weight you want, substitute by doing more reps. Just wear yourself out. That’s the key.