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The Incredible Bulk: 5 Tips to Getting Big Without Feeling Huge


Emerge this spring as a newly jacked butterfly.

Now that we'veresigned ourselves to the fact of winter (yes, we know some of you live in L.A. and Miami, but bear with us), it's time to take advantage of the cold and bulk up. This is the perfect season for adding size so that when spring and summer roll around, you can emerge from your sweater-and-long-john cocoon a newly jacked butterfly.

But that's only if you play the bulking game correctly. Gain too much weight, and it will be hard to diet down and get lean again once the beach starts calling your name. When you're adding pounds, it's best to err on the side of discretion. You want to elicit reactions along the lines of "Looking swole, kween!" rather than "Aw, when did the breakup happen?"

This is what we call a "clean bulk" -- as opposed to a "dirty bulk," which is really just a Morgan Spurlock documentary waiting to happen. You want to stay healthy when bulking while still making those #gainz. Here, a few tips to getting big without feeling huge.

Don't be afraid of calories

The number 1 rule to gaining weight is you have to consume more calories than you expend -- you want to run a surplus of 500 to 1,000 calories. That can be hard if you're very active or just a slim-waisted little bird used to sucking down seeds and oxygen for energy. But bulking is not for the shy or wispy. Set your sights on calorie-dense foods and go to town: healthy grains like granola, whole wheat bread, and rice cakes; nuts and nut-related foods like peanut and almond butter; basically any dairy product; and oils like olive, coconut, and canola.

Meet protein, your new best friend

Professional meatheads suggest getting 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight in your daily diet, but if you're too lazy or busy to count, just make sure you have a source of protein in every meal you consume. Egg whites for breakfast, chicken breast for lunch, grass-fed beef for dinner, jerky or Greek yogurt or protein shakes for in-between snacks, repeat. But you know, have fun with it. Throw in some salmon once in a while because, hey, Mr. Sister -- you've earned it.

Choose your supplements carefully

Mass gainers are a great way to meet excessive caloric requirements, but they can leave you feeling as bloated as Liza after a night out at Studio 54. If you decide to use a gainer, aim for quality. You want to avoid gainers overloaded with sugar or carbs. Look for powders with about twice as much protein as fat and twice as many carbs as protein.

Get pumped!

Although nutrition is a big part of bulking, you have to put in the work -- and more important, the werq -- at the gym. You're ingesting all that protein and all those calories so you can grow all them big muscles, so don't be afraid to up your weights and reps. If you're used to benching 150 pounds for 3 sets of 8 reps, work your way up to 180 for 4 sets of 10. Gradually, of course. Nobody likes a hero.

Jog, don't run

Generally, think of bulking as your one good excuse not to do cardio -- though to keep your heart healthy while stuffing your face, it's a good idea to add some light cardio once or twice a week. Nothing too crazy, though, or you'll run the danger of negating your gains.

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