For the second installment of the Bulking Protocol, we are going to outline the “how much?” portion of the method.
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are interested in putting on size or at the very least understand how it can be done with good results. Many ask, how do I increase the number on the scale without a massive increase in my waistline?
Or the better question, how much size and muscle as can one put on while limiting fat gain?
This is a question that will produce 130 million responses from Google in .003 seconds if you search it and I am going to take you through the steps to get you there.
At the CrossFit Football seminar we instruct our coaches to tell their athletes that are participating in the CrossFit Football style program, to gain weight they will need to consume 18-20 calories per pound of body weight.
To maintain their weight, they will need to eat between 15-17 calories per pound of body weight.
And to lose weight, they will need to consume less than 15 calories to per pound of body weight. This is all assuming they are doing a CFFB style of training, which includes 4 heavy strength days, 2 sprint days mixed in among 3-5 metabolic conditioning days, practice and training for their sport.
This prescription came from was my own training and testing. I started getting my body fat and basal metabolic rate (BMR) testing done early in my career in 2001, as I wanted to know exactly how many calories I needed to consume to gain, lose or maintain my weight. From this information I learned, the more lean body mass I carried, the higher my BMR would be. My best BMR came in 2002, I weighed in at 308 lbs with my body fat tested in the BodPod at 8.6%. I was right around 282 lbs of lean body mass and my BMR calculated at 4300 calories.
My body was burning 4300 calories just to maintain basic function; this worked out to around 14 calories per pound of body weight.
For me to maintain my weight while training, I needed to consume around 5300-5500 calories a day or 17 calories per pound of bodyweight.
For me to try to gain weight during the off-season or maintain my weight during training camp, I ate around 6000 calories a day. Needless to say, eating was a full time job.
Since I cannot guarantee these levels are accurate for everyone reading this doing a Power Athlete template, like CrossFit Football, we must start by calculating your BMR.
If you do a quick search, you will find a hundreds of equations and calculators online that will calculate your BMR. While these will work for our purposes, the best way to get an accurate number is find a lab or doctor testing the BMR and get it done. It takes about 12 minutes and is painless.
However, the Harris-Benedict equation will give us a moderately accurate number for the purposes of this blog post.
Male: 66.5 + (13.75 x W) + (5.003 x H) – (6.775 x A) = BMR
Female: 655 + (4.35 x W) + (4.7 x H) – (4.7 x A) = BMR
W = actual weight in kg (weight in lb/2.2 = kg)
H = height in cm (height in inches x 2.54 cm/in)
A = age in years
Lets examine our test subject Nate A.
28 years old
66.5 + (13.75 x 100) + (5.003 x 187.96) – (6.775 x 28) = 2192 cals
Based on this, Nate’s BMR is 2192 calories a day. This is the minimum energy requirement for Nate to sustain his body’s function while awake. Personally, I find this number to be low. In my experience, most hard charging athletes have a metabolism more akin to a furnace and require 11-12 calories per lbs of body weight sustained function. My BMR was as high as 14 calories and the test I took last month had me at 12.8 calories. Also remember, this does not take into account his activities during the day. If an athlete is lifting weights, sprinting and conditioning he will need a lot more calories.
Therefore, for Nate to bulk up he is going to need to consume between 3750-4000 calories a day. This number can increase or decrease based on individual results, but this is a good place to start for most athletes.
A problem I find happening all too often is athletes becoming obsessed with daily calories. One day they under-eat, then feel they have to over-eat to make up for the deficit. So, I found an easy way to alleviate this problem by counting the calories in a weeklong block instead of day to day.
Nate will need to consume 26,520 and 28,000 calories over the course of 7 days for his bulking. Now the division of calories and macronutrients becomes even more important when our goal is to increase the scale weight and muscle and not add globs of body fat.
The calories and macronutrients are broken into heavy training days and light training days.
I learned this trick from Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale when following the anabolic diet. The anabolic diet asks an athlete to eat a ketogenic diet (no carbs) Monday through Friday, then consume massive amounts of carbohydrates during the weekend. While the effects can be beneficial for body composition, they are not always advantageous during training. My heaviest days of training were Monday through Friday and I found myself hitting the wall while training on no carbs.
The tweak I learned was to use carbohydrates as fuel and consume them on my heavy training days, then go back to a modified keto approach on lighter days. This was my first experience with carbohydrate/caloric cycling.
Nate trains 5 days a week. He lifts weights, sprints and conditions on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. His lighter days of Wednesday and Sunday he walks and moves around as a recovery tool. Saturday is his big conditioning and movement day but we will keep the carbs low on this day.
Nate would match up Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as his heavy training days and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday as his lighter days.
Heavy training days called for the Diet of Thirds. This is where Nate will cut his macronutrients in thirds or 33%/33%/33%.
This means he will cut his 4000 calories into 33% protein, 33% carbohydrates and 33% fat. The number wont come out exactly right; so just make up for the extra by dumping the surplus into carbohydrates.
4000 cals x .33 = 1320 calories
1320 / Protein (4 calories) = 330 grams of protein
1360 / Carbohydrates (4 calories = 340 grams of carbohydrates
1320 / Fat (9 calories) = 146 grams of fat
Nate will need to consume 330 grams of protein, 340 grams of carbs and 146 grams of fat on his heavy training days.
On his lighter training days, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, Nate will need to switch up his macronutrients by dumping the carbs down to 10% of his total caloric intake, or 100 grams, and up his fat to make up the calories.
1320 calories / Protein (4 calories) = 330 grams of protein
400 calories / Carbohydrates (4 calories) = 100 grams of carbohydrates
2280 calories / Fat (9 calories) = 252 grams of fat
On the off days, Nate will need to consume 330 grams of protein, 100 grams of carbohydrates and 252 grams of fat.
This should keep you busy for a few days and get you headed in the right direction. Stay tuned for the third and fourth installment of the bulking protocol where we discuss meal timing and tools for success.
And keep an eye out for the training program designed to compliment the Bulking Protocol. Here are a few before and after pictures, I dug up of myself and Ben after following the Training and Diet Bulking Protocol. Ben and I each put on about 30 lbs with this approach.