I’m going to attempt to cover a question that has been a long debated and is a real question in our gyms, online and even down the pub.

The question is ‘how do I bulk up’?

‘How do I get big’, ‘how do I get hench’ or the latest one that I find amusing ‘how do I get those lean gainz’.


Well its important to mention that no amount of routines in the gym, track or however you train physically will be the total answer to a goal. Nutrition plays a large part in this process. This article will already assume a sensible and well crafted nutritional program is in place that will assist a bulking goal.

So we are purely going to address the physical training side of bulking and how to use weights properly to gain muscle

What is bulking up?

Bulking up is a term that is used to describe when a person who wants to increase the size or mass of their muscles. There are many sub terms used such as ‘dirty bulk’ or ‘lean or clean bulk’.

A dirty bulk: Not to get too bogged down with terminology, a dirty bulk is when a person just gains mass without paying too much attention to gaining fat and water as well as muscle.

Lean or clean bulking: this is where there is a concentration on just gaining muscle mass and minimising fat and water gains at the same time.

Most people will aim to lean or clean bulk simply because it’s aesthetically more appealing. However it can be a meticulous feat and most people end up dirty bulking by default and then aim to ‘CUT’ the water and excess fat later.

how to use weights properly to gain muscle_2Muscle types and how our muscles grow

Our muscles as we know control our physical movements. Muscles work in two simple movement patterns. Flexion and extension, is the shortening and lengthening of the muscle (isotonic).  Alternatively there’s contraction without flexion or extension where the muscle stays the same length (isometric).

To grow muscles they need to encounter force or loads that challenge the movement patterns I just mentioned. In layman terms they need to push, pull or hold heavy things for sustained periods to induce growth.

Just heavy lifting  all the time will not make muscles grow bigger.

The reason for this is that not all muscle can work in the same capacity. We have three types of skeletal muscle fibres that respond differently to loads in movement. Understating them can give us the advantage on how to load them correctly and at what intensity to stimulate growth.

The three types of muscle fibres

1. Red Slow (Type 1 slow twitch fibres)

2. Red Fast (Type 2a fast oxidative fibres)

3. White Fast (Type 2b fast glycolytic fibres)

This isn’t a science lesson so I won’t get too technical.

To explain the 3 types briefly, White Fast muscles allows fast intense strong contractions. Red Slow allows mild but sustained contractions and Red Fast is somewhere in the middle of White Fast and Red Slow.

The important thing to know is that these muscles use different energy systems for their function and this is the key to muscle development.

Look out for Part Two of the article tomorrow, where I’ll be teaching you how to put this knowledge of Red Slow, Red Fast and White Fast to good use the gym!

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