Its winter and like so many others you’ve decided to use this time of year to build muscle. You’ve got your training programme written out and planned down to the very last bicep curl. You’ve got your supplement cupboard stocked up and your gym bag is packed with lifting belts, chalk and if your hardcore enough, smelling salts.

There’s just one thing let to determine…how many calories you need to bulk up.

Time for a little inspiration…

Building muscle takes a lot of hard work both in the gym and the kitchen. Eating mammoth amounts of food every day may seem like a dream come true but it can sometimes feel just as challenging as a heavy set of squats, especially toward the end of your bulk.

So, when you are faced with yet another mountain of food to tackle, it can help to know there are some out there who have been there and done it, to show that each and every mouthful will reap the muscle building rewards you are after.

Eddie hall

During his prime, when he won World’s Strongest Man and became the first man in history to deadlift 500kg, Eddie claimed to be consuming in the region of 12,500 calories every single day, spread over 8 meals, in order to pack on the mass needed to achieve the above.

At his heaviest, he was walking around at 31 stone, with a 63 inch chest and 24 inch biceps and was eating more than five times the calories recommended for an average adult. Even now as he diets down, he is still on a staggering 7,000 calories per day.

Thor Bjornson

You cant speak of Eddie Hall without mentioning his “arch nemesis” Thor, who became only the second man, after Eddie, to deadlift half a tonne (plus a little extra) earlier this year.

In order to achieve this world breaking feat Thor was known to be consuming in excess of 10,000 calories per day, over six meals, in order to support his training, gigantic frame and world record breaking feat of strength.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

You don’t need to be a wrestling or action movie fan to know that the Rock is one of the biggest stars in the world…quiet literally. Earlier this year he revealed that his daily calorie intake is an eyebrow raising 5,000-6,000 calories each day and up to 7,000 on his cheat days in order to achieve and maintain his Hollywood physique.

Back to bulking reality

When you are looking to bulk up it can be easy to get carried away and think you need to eat every single piece of food that comes in sight and hit the numbers of the likes above.

However all the “big bulkers” above are pushing (or have pushed) their bodies to the limits for their sports and careers and so had to go to extreme measures in order to achieve success, which included their diets and calorie consumption.

When it comes to the average gym goer looking to add mass, such measures aren’t necessary. We still need to be ensuring were eating more food than usual to give our bodies the extra calories needed to build muscle, it just doesn’t need to be so drastic.

We should look to the above for inspiration rather than replication.

How many calories do I need to bulk up?

In order to add on muscle mass, you won’t need as many extra calories as you may think. In fact, just consuming 10-20% over your maintenance calories is enough to start the muscle building process. (1)

Lets say your currently taking in 2,200 calories each day and you’re maintaining weight at this intake, in order to push your body into a surplus, and providing it with the extra fuel needed to bulk up, you would only need to consume an extra 220-440 calories each day.

It may not be the jaw dropping numbers of the three men above, but then again, most of us are only trying to fill out our t-shirts a little more, not become literally some of the biggest and strongest men in history.

  1. Lambert CP, Frank LL, Evans WJ. Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Med. 2004;34(5)

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