Stronglifts for bulking?
Genrally Stronglifts is not the ideal program for building a lot of mass quick, if that is your goal. If you want to clean bulk and accomapny that by a well rounded multi purpose lifting program as a beginner, 5x5 is a solid and widely tested choice.
What is bulking ?
I personally find it is important to talk about the meaning of things before making a decision and give people perspective based on my personal experience which is the purpose of this article. I hope the image I picked for this post illsutrates why answering this question first is important.
The word itself means:
Size, mass or volume, especially when very large
Bulk buy, bulk mailing
Bulk up: to gain weight by gaining muscle
Bulking is generally referred to as the process of putting on mass within bodybuilding circles. In business terms it would be used to describe the process of buying something in big quantities to get a cheaper price per unit to drive down production cost and therefore turn over a bigger margin per item.
As you have found this article in the context of Stronglifts 5x5, which is a weightlifting program, let's focus on bulking in terms of gaining muscle mass.
There are two types of bulk which you will find most commonly discussed. First being a "dirty" bulk and second a "Clean" bulk.
A dirty bulk has the main purpose of gaining weight as quickly as possible by any means necessary. This includes fast food, mass gainers, protein shakes and eating everything within your grasp without checking calorie intake. You eat as much as you can, even if your hunger is satisfied. This way of bulking is generally preferred by less sophisticated and some might even call them lazier bodybuilders. This would include me as I personally do not like to count calories as I do not go on the stage. However I do not go mad by eating everything within sight. I check my intake with my hunger and take care that my food choices are generally healthy. Therefore I managed to stay between 80 - 85 kg of bodyweight at 185cm.
A clean bulk is more sophisticated in its approach by being very specific about what kind and how much food you take in over the day while at the same time checking on the calories you burn. This involves either having an individual like a personal trainer do all the leg work for you in terms of cooking & calorie counting or investing more time in educating yourself first and then tracking your progress accordingly. As my goal is not to be on a stage, but to get strong, this is too much hassle for me personally. Still if you want to look like the super shredded magazine covers, you either have to be meticolous by bulking clean or go through extended periods of cutting (calorie deficit), to basically starve yourself to the aesthetic level you want.
The most basic approach for bulking is to enter into a calorie surplus to put on mass for the purpose of building muscle. A good diet and a training program are the two major drivers for putting on mass. "You can't outrun a bad diet" is something you might hear from personal trainers all over the world, which is true. The interesting question in this is however, why the diet is bad.
What is your goal?
The clearer your goals are, the easier it becomes to determine whether a certain action as a detraction from that goal or getting you closer to reaching that goal. In easier terms, with a goal you can say what is a good or bad diet which does or does not help you get there.
As you are looking to bulk when you found this article, the questions i why do you want to bulk. If you want to bulk for aesthetic reasons, a dirty bulk might not be advised. If you want to bulk because you feel weak / not strong enough a dirty bulk might not be the best option either. If you want to go up a weight class in sports as quickly as possible or put on a protective layer of fat over your muscles as a boxer, a dirty bulk might just be the right solution for you.
Your personal goal while also determine which program you want to pick. If you want to gain muscle to look big in a bodybuilding stage, to get drafted as a line backer in football but you currently do not meet the size criteria or generally want to get stronger different strategies might be advised.
Stronglifts 5x5 for bulking ?
For someone who wants to become a bodybuilder I would not advise to follow Stronglifts 5x5. When big muscles take priority over strength for you German Volume Training might be the better program for that purpose. I have discussed the effect of 5x5 and GVT on hypertropy and hyperplasia at length in my article in which I compare the two programs and it might be a worthwhile read if you are an aspiring bodybuilder.
For someone who is in sports and wants to hit a certain weight at a certain date I personally think there are two approaches. If this date is far in the future and you have the time and will for a clean bulk, this is the preferred and generally recommended option for health purposes. Stronglifts 5x5 is a good program to accompany this process in the first year to move to more dvanced lifitng programs afterwards.
If you are looking into hitting that weight goal in a very short period of time, a dirty bulk up until that date accompanied by German Volume training might be a preferable option to get there, even though there are risks attached to that approach.
I am not a professional so please always consult your doctor for feedback which is specific to you.
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