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Getting Cut Vs. Bulking Up

by
author image Michelle Dawn
Michelle Dawn has written professionally since 2005, covering a variety of topics over that time, the majority of that work focused on health and well-being. A Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Instructor, she enjoys teaching others how to live their healthiest, happiest life.
Getting Cut Vs. Bulking Up
Get cut or bulk up, depending on your weight routine. Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The idea that all weight exercises make you turn out looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger is just a myth. You can actually determine if you gain lean muscle mass or make big muscle gains and bulk up. Whether you want to stay lean or get big and bulky, it's crucial to create a proper workout plan and stick to it, to get the results you're after.

Warm Up Right

The way you warm up has a significant effect on your workout. To pack on the muscle, it's best to work up to your heaviest weights, performing a few strength exercises to prepare your body for the workout. Use a lighter weight than you plan to use in your workout, with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up before your workout. (see Reference 1)

Sets, Reps, and Weights, Oh My

Planning your workout with the right number of sets and reps and the right amount of weight is essential for determining if you'll gain lean or bulky muscle. If your primary goal is making big muscle gains, stick to five or six reps and do four to five sets, lifting the maximum weight you can manage. This increases strength, which can contribute to size. A repetition range of 8 to 12 reps is widely regarded as the optimal range for muscle mass increases or "hypertrophy". To build muscle but stay lean, lift a lighter weight and do more reps. An ideal workout plan for building lean muscle mass would comprise of three sets of 12 to 15 reps of each exercise.

Rest Periods

Adequate rest periods are a crucial part of any strength-training workout routine. When you're lifting more weight with the goal of gaining big, bulky muscle, allow more time for resting between sets. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets. If you're lifting a lighter weight for lean muscle, stick to 30 to 60 seconds rest between sets. Train for three to four days a week for lean muscle; bump it up to four to five days a week to bulk up. Aim to train on non-consecutive days when possible, to give your muscles time to recover and repair before the next workout.

Diet is Detrimental

Watching what you eat is always important when you're trying to get in shape and get healthy, and is particularly important when you're aiming to gain lean muscle mass or bulk up. You need to take in enough calories to pack on muscle. As the experts at Nerd Fitness warn, if you're not getting enough calories with the right foods, your body isn't getting the fuel it needs for the muscle building process. The required number of daily calories varies from each person, depending on your gender, age, and other personal factors. Using a calorie counter helps you stay on track and ensure you're getting the necessary calories each day. Try to take in fewer carbs each day if your goal is cutting up.

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