Tip: Am I Lean Enough to Start a Mass Phase?

Is it time for a bulking phase? Are you sure? Here's an easy guideline to follow.

What's the Biggest Mistake Lifters Make?

It's trying to bulk up before they're lean enough to make the best use of the extra calories they'll be taking in. Should you be thinking about a mass phase? Follow this general guideline:

  • Men should aim to be about 12% body fat or leaner before bulking.
  • Women should be between 17-21% body fat.

A good indicator you're on the right track is having some ab definition before trying to bulk. If that's not you, think: "Get lean and bulk clean," in that order.

Why Clean? Why Not Dirty Bulk?

If you follow a "dirty bulk" or attempt to bulk up when you're too fat, you'll face a plethora of issues:

  • Fat Hyperplasia – Your body will increase the number of fat cells as a result of overeating. This makes it easier to store fat in the future and harder to lose fat in the here and now.
  • Decreased insulin sensitivity – You're making it harder for your body to break down food into energy. You'll add fat more easily and struggle to build muscle.
  • Poor habit formation – Sure, it's fun to occasionally eat junk. But bulking isn't an excuse to eat like a slob with the self-control of a 14-year-old boy visiting his first porn site. These habits are harder to break than you'd anticipate.

Ignore this advice at your peril. Sure, you'll gain size more quickly, but it'll be a muffin top over your jeans, not a sheet of armor over your pecs. Get lean and keep it clean. Progress will come slower, but you'll build big muscles, not a big gut.

Eric Bach is a highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach, located in Colorado. Eric specializes in helping athletes and online clients achieve optimal performance in the gym and on the playing field. Follow Eric Bach on Facebook