Winter is still long and for many of us, this period amounts to a brutal and reckless bulk phase. The calories and the number of free meals increase and, in the end, the dear old sweatshirt is ready to cover us from the inquiring looks of those who admired us in the summer! After all, the swimsuit season is still far away, am I wrong?
The problem is that many do not realize that what we do in the winter months represents a very important presupposition of what we will be able to bring out in the subsequent cut period. It is in winter that we have the opportunity to build and shape the body with exercise and strict, targeted diet to prepare ourselves to show it on the beach or, better yet, on a stage.
In this article, we will see how to manage training and nutrition in the winter months to bring out the best possible shape for the summer.
The importance of winter preparation
Credits: Ludovico Lemme - Rhinocoaching
Let's try to understand the three main reasons why the winter months dedicated to putting on mass are so important for the final result.
- First of all, and this is self-evident, it is in these cold months that we build the new muscle tissue that will characterize the fit body shape we will present at the end of the definition phase. When we are in the cut period we can work on the general condition of our body, on building fuller muscles, but new muscular tissue will hardly create then. When, on the other hand, we are in the caloric surplus of the bulk phase, we can dedicate ourselves to our shortcomings, to the improvement of those districts that we have to develop more and to gain weight and muscles in general.
- Secondly, in these cold months, we can also do metabolic construction work. This means going to gradually increase calories leading to an increase in our energy consumption. Performance goes up, as does weight. These factors lead us to increase the caloric requirement, which is very important because the higher we are in caloric levels when we start the cut phase, the less effort will then require to lower the fat rate.
- Last but not least it is in the bulk that we create the basis of the gym performance that will accompany us during the cut phase. Being able to count on better sports performance and higher loads will also lead us to give a different input to our body during the definition. By training more intensely we will give a signal of greater need for muscle tissue, and this will be reflected in better muscle maintenance even in the last weeks of definition when the calories will drop significantly.
It is easy to understand how what we do in these winter months will reflect a lot on the final result. Let's try to understand now how to manage training and nutrition in detail.
How to set the power supply for the mass
For the bulk phase, we have to start with our energy expenditure. We can use the Harris-Benedict formula described below:
- Men: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5
- Women: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161
We will then have to multiply the result obtained x1.5 if we are sedentary, or x2 if we are active.
What you get will be your basic calories. Increase now by 20% to stay in a calorie surplus. It is in fact on the calorie surplus that you will build new muscle tissue. Without going into specifics, let's try to understand how to move over the months. My advice is to gradually rise in calories throughout the mass phase because once stabilized to a certain caloric input, our body will adapt to maintain homeostasis, balance.
In other words, if you stay 4 weeks at 3000 kcal it is likely that, in the end, you will no longer be in caloric surplus because your body will have adapted and is now actually consuming 3000 kcal per day (remember the metabolic construction concept in the previous paragraph?).
So, what you can do is increase your calories by 10% every time you see a performance and weight stall for more than 3 weeks. Continue like this, without haste, until the end of the mass phase.
How to set up your workout for muscle mass
As we said, training in winter is an important element. We must make the best use of the gym to lay the working conditions in the subsequent definition phase. So, in these winter months, my advice is to keep a very high training intensity, effort, and volume. I would say, ss high as possible based on your ability to recover.
The calorie base will allow you to push properly! You have all the petrol in this world, use it and do your homework in the gym. You will see that this will give you great benefits in the next stages!
What NOT to do in winter months
We conclude with tips on what NOT to do during winter months.
- Firstly: not going too fast with calories. Many are eager to see the needle get higher, but what you would see would only be fictitious results. The increase in muscle mass takes time, grant it to your body! Go up calmly, gradually, trying not to force your hand, and you won't regret it.
- Second point: not training properly. Often out of laziness, you can "underestimate" training's importance. This is absolutely wrong. As I said, this is the phase in which to invest all that is possible in concrete and lasting gains. Give it in the weight room!
- Last advice, the opposite of the first, not put on enough weight for fear of getting "dirty", of feeling bad, etc ... the bulk phase also includes an increase in fat, there is little to do. This is evident to many people. The body tries to return to fat mass levels where it feels "comfortable", for those with high set-points this can mean having a fairly high-fat mass in the winter months. Don't worry, do things calmly and you will see that in the definition phase the situation will improve enormously!
We have seen that the winter months are absolutely fundamental for what we are going to do in the subsequent cut and definition phases. We also understood how to behave, how to slowly rise in calories, not be afraid to gain weight and, above all, push in the gym!
Now you know what you need to do, it's up to you to lay all anabolic foundations for this 2020!