A bulking cycle shouldn't mean gaining belly fat.
The goal of bulking up is to put on large amounts of muscle, and for some, to do it by any means necessary. This can result in large amounts of fat being gained in addition to the muscle, which soon necessitates "cutting" to get rid of the unwanted spare tire. To bulk up without adding belly fat requires a combination of tactics, both in terms of how you train and how you fuel your body.1.
Focus on how you feed yourself. Your diet has a profound impact on your body composition, and while it's tempting to excuse any indulgence in the name of bulking, it can be very counterproductive. You can do a "dirty bulk" with pizza, burgers and ice cream, or you can do a "clean bulk" with lots of meat, whole grains and starchy vegetables and dairy. The first option will make you gain belly fat along with muscle, while the second option will help prevent you gaining body fat as you build up your mass.2.
Include two sprint or interval sessions in your weekly workout schedule. The "International Journal of Obesity" found that high-intensity interval training was highly effective at reducing body fat, particularly in the belly area. HIIT also will not break down lean muscle mass, as other types of cardio can do. Preferably, your HIIT sessions should happen on different days to your weightlifting sessions, as both are very demanding on the body.3.
Manage your stress. Stress from your work, relationships and living situation can drive up the concentration of cortisol, a hormone that contributes directly to an increase in belly fat. Training is also a cause of stress, and will contribute to this just as much. Be sure to take relaxing walks or swims, to have hot baths, use a foam roller and get massages regularly. Additionally, focus on getting eight hours of sleep every night. All these factors will your muscles to recover and develop more quickly, while reducing cortisol and the associated belly fat.
- Make sure your meals include plenty of fibrous vegetables, which will help reduce bloating in the belly area. Drink plenty of water, as this will also help reduce bloating.
- When sprinting, warm up properly or you run the risk of injury.