When you are bulking, you will have "fat days."
In fact, you will gain fat. It is impossible to put on 5lb of muscle and no fat at all.
Your expectations may be too high. I hear a lot of women talk about putting on 20lb of muscle in one off-season. Not likely. Realistically, depending on your frame, the average natural woman (we are not talking about pro female bodybuilders who are using all kinds of drugs here!) can put on 5-10lb of muscle in her first year, 3-7lb in her second year, and 2-5lb in subsequent years. With a really great and consistent training and nutrition program, sure, you may be able to add a little more than that, and yes, some women do have great genetics that allow them to exceed these amounts.
|This is the result of 12 months of almost continuous bulking|
But you are simply not going to look like Erin Stern or Jamie Eason after one off-season.
I have also found that quite a few women share what I thought was a ridiculous fear of mine: the fear that after bulking, they will lack the willpower to diet back down.
And you know what? I did for a while. I dieted really hard in 2010 - much harder than I should have (1300 calories/day, up to 90 minutes of cardio/day, 7 days a week, lifting 5x/week), and as a result, I was burnt out and needed a break. And some food. So I basically bulked straight through 2011. But once I decided to cut back down, I had no issues sticking to a diet.
Through my own experience and observing others' bulking cycles, I have come to the conclusion that in general, there are three keys to successfully sticking to a bulk:
1. Have realistic expectations. If you are expecting to put on 15lb of muscle and 1lb of fat and look like a fitness model, you will be disappointed and probably will quit before you have given yourself a chance to add any muscle at all.
2. Go slow and steady. Men can gain muscle more quickly than women, and that's why they can eat at a caloric level that results in 4+lb of gains every month. If you (women) are gaining 4lb a month on a bulk, the weight you are gaining is probably 50+% fat.
3. Have a support system. Many of your friends and family members will not understand what you're trying to accomplish. Find someone, anyone, who shares your goals, and keep in touch with them. You can always e-mail me - I understand & I love helping others =)
Those of you who have completed a bulking cycle: any advice to add to this? If you are considering bulking, what are your fears/hesitations?