Many of you will be looking at gaining some size ready for next year so that you can look bigger and better for your holidays, competitions and just generally in life. When you go through this process you might notice that you put on more body fat than you are used to seeing or you may feel bulkier and heavier than you were in the summer. When you increase calories you are going to see a change but make sure you are doing everything you can to minimise an increase in body fat.
Keep Body Fat Low
Of course you want to keep body fat low when bulking because no one wants to walk around with an extra 5-10% fat on them. If you are an athlete then you will understand that this is only going to slow you down and not just in a physical sense. Gaining body fat reduces how effectively your body burns fat and the rate at which you optimise testosterone within the body. So, think again when you're stuffing your face with refined sugars, pizzas, burgers etc and thinking that this is 'okay' because you're bulking. You can still eat healthy foods and increase your calories by adjusting your intake of carbohydrates and fats.
It goes without saying that you need to check what you're eating when you are putting on more size but don't forget to change your lifting style too. In the summer months your goal may have been to train for maintenance and therefore your calories were monitored much better than what they are now. As your goal changes so must your training and this means having a different focus when you are in the gym. When you consume a larger amount of calories than you were normally having, a good way of keeping body fat down is by performing compound lifts when in the gym. This is what we call the 'Gut Check'....
You shouldn't be a stranger to compound lifts any time of the year, but if you're going to step your game up it might as well be when you need to perform them most. No one says you have to go ridiculously heavy when it comes to these lifts, train smart and mix it up. Here is a very basic and general breakdown of when I would perform each compound lift...
Chest day - Bench Press
Back Day - Deadlift
Shoulder Day - Standing Press
Leg Day - Squat
The above wrap up the four main compound lifts you should perform when you are looking to counteract an increase in body fat whilst at the same time trying to develop more muscle mass. These exercises also really work your core muscles which help to maintain a good balance within your body. Your abdominal and intricate core muscles will be tested when performing compound lifts so be prepared for some hardcore sessions that test you both mentally and physically.
Try and increase your lifts each week by challenging yourself with new targets. This could be in the form of more reps, sets, weight, shorter rest times and so on. If you are used to doing these exercises generally, be prepared to notice a huge difference when you do them alongside more calories as you will be surprised at how much more you can do.