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Sounds like a fantastic reason (read: excuse) to eat everything in sight! Well it is just that, an excuse. Ladies, we do not bulk, we build and improve. You have heard it many times, or chosen to ignore it, but we don’t “bulk” to build muscle. Trust me, I tried it. Chicken and brownies! Protein shakes and doughnuts! Tilapia and tiramisu! Laugh if you want, but these were my actual post-workout meals during my first “bulk.” Don’t get me wrong, it was a blast, it just didn’t work. Well, that isn’t all true, my stomach and butt definitely “bulked.” Whether or not I gained serious muscle in my actual muscles, the jury is still out, because by the time I dieted and did enough cardio to lose all of the FAT, yes FAT, I gained “bulking,” my muscles shrunk too.
So we have established that we don’t bulk, but just how do you improve? Well let’s start with a little secret, you can build muscle while staying relatively lean. Shhhh don’t tell anyone! Nevermind, tell EVERYONE! Off-season or improvement season is the time to lift heavier, push your limits and decrease your cardio from what you did during contest prep. That is decrease, not eliminate. As far as nutrition goes this is the time to increase food, but in the form of healthy carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats. This is a perfect time to add fruit back into your plan, especially pre or post-workout. Expand your carb choices to include quinoa, whole grain breads and white potatoes. And maybe add an egg yolk to your morning whites. And if you haven’t already, add back in that cheat meal once or twice a week.
This is definitely not your contest prep, but it is also not a free for all, bulk and lift! The less body fat you have to lose during the prep, the less stressful it can be. Since you will be lifting heavier and really kicking up the intensity don’t forget your HMB to help you recover faster and make the most of your increase in calories. Good luck building and improving and still looking great while you do it!