Picture of How to Bulk Up
In this Instructable, I take you through one of the processes of gaining muscle mass (there are many). This method involves resistance (weight) training and nutrition. This style is termed "Natural Bodybuilding" because of the fact that it doesn't involve supplements of any kind (i.e. anything recommended in the nutrition section can be found at any normal grocery store).

First and foremost I'd like to stress the importance of safety for people ready to begin a training program. As with any form of exercise, it is greatly advised to consult with a doctor in order to ensure your safety while putting your body under new (and tougher) conditions.

With that said, congratulations on having this much drive to begin a training regimen, and let's begin.

Step 1: Knowledge is Power

Picture of Knowledge is Power
This is by far the most important information in this Instructable:

You know your body better than anyone else


Every body is different

I would recommend strongly against taking any one source of information as truth (including this Instructable!). What works for some other people may not work for you. Self-knowledge is VERY valuable when you are working out. Much of the time that building muscle and strength is used figuring what works for you. As you advance in your training, you will learn more and more about your body, its strengths and weaknesses and how it will respond to different exercises, weights, rest periods, and other variables.

I would recommend having (or acquiring) some knowledge on nutrition, anatomy, and resistance training in general. These can be found in workout manuals (big books which look like telephone books). These are good for reference and getting new ideas for different workouts and exercises to put in your routine.
JP84681 year ago
Bodybuilding.com is a great source to find all the question you have.
JP84681 year ago
Good intentions, but to bulk up and gain muscle and weight you would do hardly any cardio. All your doing is burning calories your body needs. Diet makes up the majority of anything whether it's slimming down, building lean muscle or mass gaining. I do recommend taking in quite a bit of complex carbs like sweet potatoes. It's also important you do the right amount of repetitions with the right amount of weight. I do 80% of my max for 8 reps and five to six sets.
jshsmith4 years ago
Cardio first, then weights.

Lions in the wild sprint before they kill their prey, then eat a huge meal of protein, followed of course by a nap.

Any health report you read will say this, just using more words and science jargon.
I've read the contrary to your method of "cardio first, then weights." Doing both is of course going to be great for your health but there are a lot of critics towards this order because your body needs its energy stores most when doing weights and by doing cardio first you are burning off this "short burst" energy (think creatine and glucose stores).

I also would consider switching the fat free and whole milk so that you are not blunting the insulin surge brought on by the sugar in the milk with the fat from the whole milk on days you train. This is in theory, because the insulin surge helps push nutrients/protein into your starving/broken down muscles and aids in protein synthesis.

Also, it is a mistake to directly apply the habits of animals to human beings. Animals can be a great reference point for the study of behavior but don't forget the complexity man.
I like your good intentions, however this is an ineffective guide. Bodyweight exercises lack the ability to add weight (assuming most people will be doing them at home), this means linear progression is impossible. Linear progression is the most effective way for a novice to, 'bulk up' and it takes advantage of their ability to adapt quickly.
Do you have any other harder workouts you recommend? I can do sets of 50 pushups without much problems, 20 pullups, v-ups, and 25 dip sets. Any added suggestions? I've been doing weighted pullups and dips recently.
btw remember to train ur back. its done doing bridges test it out
bridges are easy
well then go from handstand to bridge to standing that aint easy :P
still no problem, I can do those easily. Try planche pushups,now those are hard.
do one arm push ups. if u cant do knee one armed pushups and go from that. with pullups (chinups whateva) its the same thing grip the bar with one hand and then grip ur arm with ur other hand then pull urself up. sholders i recommend handstand pushups start with a wall thou
Robnelson4 years ago
It takes 4000 calories to gain a pound. You have to eat a dramatically larger amount of food if you want to put on pounds and "bulk up". If you are working out as well (using the exercises in the next steps), you can be burning more calories than you think (3000 calories a day), and then you can have a tough time gaining weight.

That's why many weight lifters drink protein shakes or eat lots of egg whites. An easy way to get more calories without buying nutritional supplements is to drink milk. You can buy a gallon of milk for $3-4. A gallon of milk is 16 servings at 120 calories each = 2000 calories. If you drink 2 additional gallons of milk a week, you can gain about 1 pound a week.
Excellent information! I recommend 1 gallon of fat free milk and 1 gallon of whole milk a week, the fat free for days in which you are not working any major muscles, the whole milk for days with vigorous workouts.
borges01056 years ago
hello, i want to start working out but i have no clue in how many of each exercise i should do?
When you workout you want to focus on 2 or 3 body parts a day. Do 3 sets of 10 reps with a some what heavy weight. Rep to failure. More than 15 reps and the weight is too light. Do cardio after you hit the weights. Drink whey protein often. Even walmart has a good cheap protein. U want to take in 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Stay consistent and watch the muscles grow.
I don't have any way to add weight, any suggestions?
Until you feel it, hard.
that's what she said
Try what we call "pyramids". Do 30. Then 30 crunches. then 25 push ups. then 25 crunches. decrease by 5 for each until you get down to 5, then work your way back up to 30. I do that with my soldiers every morning (along with a lot of other stuff). Army PT works!
could u tell me some of those other stuff?
talk to a trainer at a gym! they usually give you advice based on you without charge. if your serious about this invest in one.
milamber5 years ago
hay im 16 and curently way about 50 kg and do light work outs at home with a weekly 4 hour continuas session of rockclimbing as well as running at least 2km per day and have gained over 4kg since 1/august 2009 and i have found that coconut milk/cream is great for protein and i take a bottle of coconut milk and a 2ltr camel pack fool of water this keeps me well hydrated and nutrient levels at a prime (i can now lift easily 2x waht i could befor i started this workout scheem
Nice job, I've been gaining around 2.5lbs a month for the 6 months, I'm 15 and weigh 160 now. I used to rockclimb alot but haven't recently. What workout do you do? I do gymnastics and basic conditioning.
Thats about 8 stone ! jeez im 13 and 48 kg already ! Although much of thats a chocolate belly!
Tom Buckey5 years ago
Which, in your opinion, is the hardest between under grip pull ups or just normal pull ups?
Under hand pull ups recruit your biceps and latissimus dorsi  which make them easier. Wide grip overhand pull ups isolate the latissimus dorsi more so, making them do the majority of the work.
Yeah, the different grips at different locations work your back in different ways. Like wide grip works out your lats especially your lower lats while closer grip focuses on upper lats and also more on the rotary cuff (back of shoulder) and rhombius (maybe I named it wrong but they're the muscles between your shoulder blades). My workout is 12 reps of chinups, then 12 pullups, then finish with a burnout of chinups. And sometimes on "in between" days or days where my lats burn too much but I want to work my biceps and upper back I do those alternating pullups that you grip your hands close along the bar and you pull your head up alternatively on each side of the bar.
Yeah overhand are a bit harder, it flexes your bicep differently
They are different. Chinups use your biceps more, overhand uses your back and lats more.
Under hand pullups? - that'd be a chin wouldn't it?
AustralLord4 years ago
It also works your pecs, back of shoulders, and the muscles in between your shoulder blades (rhombi I think); and like pushups, you can variate the grip width for different targeting (close grip for for pecs and wider for "rhombi" an shoulders)
for legs try doing bodyweight squats and step ups on a box..
ged15 years ago
Hi there - just joined Instructables today - and I couldn't agree more with you - there is a lot of really bad instruction on line, in forums and in the mainstream bodybuilding press. I read a copy of Flex recently, and I counted over 300 ads for bodybuilding supplements in a 350 page magazine! This proves that they don't have your best interests at heart. They often recommend dangerous exercises as safe too....... (EG upright row, pressing behind the neck and so on. Just mu 2 cents worth! Ged www.bodybuildingthatworks.com
borges01055 years ago
Can any body tell me what I should be doing cause, I really want to have a better body now, I am 6'2 168lbs skinny looking, but I just dont know where to start from, the article gave alot of tips and I wanted to find out what I could do more(like exercises, and how many per set)...THX
cheezwhiz5 years ago
I see it mentioned here, but it bears reiteration - you need to incorporate leg work unless you don't have the use of your legs.
Completely agree. Not just for the hormonal increase but, legs help stabilize your body for many other lifts you wouldn't think. Especially if you are doing any sort of dead-lifting or chest work.

One thing of utmost importance is form. Maintaining good form not only prevents injury but prevents other muscle groups being pulled in other than the one you are focusing on.

surfreak7 years ago
Ehh... Incomplete at best. Any body building or strength program will fall far below par without leg work. Heavy squats and lots of calories are synonymous with muscle gain, as they increase hormonal response and work MASSIVE muscle groups. Also, it doesn't matter how much protein you take in past a certain point. It's calories you're really after when you're gaining, not solely protein. Squat heavy and drink a gallon of whole milk a day and I promise you'll get huge. Google and buy or torrent 'Starting Strength' by Mark Rippetoe. Just get ready to drink the SS kool aid.
I don't recommend drinking that much milk.  It raises your chances of developing prostate cancer.  Check the studies.  But I also agree that the intake of protein, (whey) while very benificial, should be calculated depending on your weight and long term goals.  Generally, your caloric intake must be a lot but only from whole natural foods.  Supplements can help, but remember that your body will respond best to real foods.  I speak from experience.  Determine what you need, and find real foods to achieve your nutritional requirements.  This means giving up the beers on the weekends, and getting rid of the chips and processed foods.  A little change in your shopping list will go a long way! :)
mo55 years ago
i hate dips soooo much
cterry5116 years ago
Thanks nice incite.
duck-lemon7 years ago
when you are doing your push ups keep your body straight i see there that you have your body on an angle from you pelvis to your head, in other words your pelvis is too low and your head too high. P.S edit you video so it doesn't show the bits when you crack up.
Why is it that when someone tries to workout and get fit, someone else is always there to criticize? You are one of those guys at the gym that thinks they have a free ticket to tell other people what to do. LOOK AT THE GUY IN THE VIDEO, clearly he is building muscle -- lay off! To sum up 'constructively,' if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
dude don't get agro i'm just trying to improve his technique.
is agro a term off a game or an everyday word?
agro= aggrevated
aggro = aggressive/beatdown style when constructing trading card game decks.

WHY do I know these things?
ok, i always used aggro in a game when a monster had a red name and was going to attack without a reason
haha aggro=many varriations of definiton from games...
WoW=Red monster who will attack no matter what
Runescape=a monster more than your level divided by two that will attack you without pause
Lineage&most other games=same as wow lol
i like these games in my downtime but lots of money to buy some... you spend alot on these things? any free games you would suggest?
in this kind of stuff its extremely important to have good form. sure you build muscle from doing things improperly but if you have bad form you have a good chance of getting hurt, especially when weights are being used.
Cruncher1236 years ago
dammit, I tried all of this and still nothing. What a waste of my time.
Maverchick6 years ago
Whoa! Slow down. To get the maximal workout from a push-up, slow down and let the muscles do the work. If you go fast, force capability actually decreases.
killarowa7 years ago
Sweet! A work out instructable... I have a question, which hopefully wont stray to much away from this instructable....... Q: Why aren't supplements, which are used to build muscle, approved by the FDA? **and added comment, no need for lower body workout if you a guy, all guns baby!
According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, supplements cannot make disease or health claims without evidence and/or investigation from the FDA; but they can however make claims on how the supplement affects the structure and body. (Kessler Why the FDA Does Not Approve Supplements). So quite frankly there is a very gray area with supplements. Oh and btw, people that don't work their legs always look funny. Huge upper-body and little chicken legs? haha.
Thank you DEFDOM for the regulation on FDA approved supplements..... but almost NONE... or very few supplements are FDA approved..... shouldnt the FDA speed up their investigation process so more of these products get the certified "OK" to be used? I believe these products are all shames unless, i dunno, unless the FDA approves it? **My wife calls em cows legs, but yeah, ALL GUNS BABY! YEAH!.... besides, everyone knows how hard running is.... oh the mental struggle!
Bahh! Just get some good music or a friend and running can be pretty fun!- Of course living near the beach also helps getting motivated. ;D
I mean, come on, creatine..... whey's and proteins.... the FDA cant put an approval on these things? Its ridiculous!
Yeah, I agree. The DSHEA really weakened the FDA's pull. I mean just walk into any GNC and roughly 90% of the supplements in there are not FDA approved. It really is ridiculous. The only thing we can do as consumers is educate ourselves and read the labels on products and understand how each chemical affects the human body.
hey thanks for this detailed explanation! I am also interested in this topic (obviously...) and I don't really want to buy weights.... so how long does it take to see result w/ just bodyweight push-up? (for you) alright thanks!
Well we were talking about whey as in whey protein supplements to take in accordance with a workout regiment. Funny you mention bodyweight excercise though, because I am currently on an endurance program which involves most all bodyweight excercise. To be honest, I've started to see results within the first week of my workouts. If you would like, I could suggest some excercises you could do. Just send me a message so we don't spam KantWeThink's Instructable.
cool instructible. really informative. could you set out what you would eat in an average day if you were trying to bulk up? you've said eat more, but i don't really know how much. im 6"1' and weigh about 163 pounds and i probably have about 2000 calories on a given day (and if im over, thats with sugar rather than carbs or protein). also, i usually run about 4-5k a day. would that make it harder to bulk up, taking away energy that would be used on muscle growth?
Great Instructable!
Liam Wolf7 years ago
Awesome Workout, I'll be sure to give this a try. I have alot of trouble doing pull ups, Any advice?
KantWeThink also mentions bending your legs at a 90 degree angle behind you to have a friend provide support on step 6.
If you have access to a gym, I suggest using the Lat machine. Its the machine that has the horizontal bar hanging down from above a seat. Then you just adjust the weight for how much you can pull down comfortably until you are at your weight. Most gyms these days also have pull up/dip machines, which is basically a pull up station with a platform you kneel on. You just set the amount weight you want the machine to "subtract" from your own body weight and do pull ups that way. A home alternative, if you do not have access to the gym is to get on a pull up bar and bend your knees behind you at a 90 degree angle and cross your feet. In this position you can have a someone assist you by supporting your feet and lifting at the toughest part of the pull up. Another way is doing negative pull ups which is where you use a chair or some other method to get to the top position of the pull up and then slowly let yourself down with as much control as possible, then repeat the process. Hope these suggestions helped. Good luck with the pull ups!
great instructable :) very good idea to have a vid for each step.
HOMEPIE647 years ago
for milk whole milk 2 % 1% or skim? i usually drink skim
Pkranger887 years ago
Not bad stuff. If you get a chance you ought to check out Stew Smith's stuff on Military.com. He has a web site of his own at www.stewsmith.com. He's a former Seals trainer. His stuff works.
madhops06207 years ago
during the off-season this winter, our highschool soccer team had training where we would go and just do fitness. We had it every week twice a week and we would run a 2 mile, do 150 push-ups and 150 sit-ups, and do 30 pull-ups. We also did wall sits and some other drills too. Everyone was in great chape at the end of the 3 months but nobody wanted to keep doing it after it ended so now we're all in horrible shape again lol.
tepse7 years ago
sweet dude im getting started right away how about adding some lower body stuff and and abdominal to and i would love it if you would post some recipes you personally use or something great instructable!! (from denmark sorry about the crappy spelling)
actually you didnt spell anything wrong, or at least not that i can see
KantWeThink (author)  tepse7 years ago
Sure thing.

I have a lot of work on my plate right now but check back, I'll add pages about legs and abs by Wednesday. Recipes maybe sometime in the near future too.
I'm studying in Denmark, by the way.

tepse tepse7 years ago
i'll post my progress when i get some ill do one of thoose things where you take a pick every day:p
cry_wolf7 years ago
Its great that you posted this. I'm 15 and began lifting last year. It has changed my life tremendously. I used to be somewhat medium sized, but had no muscle mass. I started lifting 3 times a week starting in November of 2006 and i have continued that. My muscle mass has shot up and my body is doing and looking great. I flex my arms and i feel accomplished because i worked very hard for it and have never had that before. I used to actually be fat when i was younger, so being like this now is amazing to me. I have currently however, been eating a bit too much so i have been trying to cut down on fast food. Those wide grip pull ups are a great exercise, along with curling, tricep curls, and the dips are great too. Great instructable with great documentation. :D
sugarf357 years ago
It looks interesting and would work, but how about us fatties just starting out.
Dr.Paj7 years ago
Always be careful around the machines, if you use them incorrectly you could easily injure yourself. Always have someone (such as an employee) show you the correct form when using these. Also start low and do a few reps at a time.
camb00 Dr.Paj7 years ago
MY uncle died on a repping bench becuase he was on his own the bar sliped on to his neck and he couldt lift it back up because he had just worked out with it and he choked to death.RIP
f451 camb007 years ago
The reason for this is using collars to hold the weight on the bar. If you do a bench press with a bar and are alone don't use collars. If you find yourself in this type of situation it's fairly easy to shake the weights off one end of the bar.
Dr.Paj camb007 years ago
I have nothing to add.
tmwest197 years ago
All upper body, no legs?
fosho4 tmwest197 years ago
Seconded. I would be nice to see some lower body stuff. Other than that great instructable. I started everything yesterday.
KantWeThink (author)  fosho47 years ago
Stay tuned, It took ages for me to upload the videos to YouTube for some reason. I'll try and add the section on legs this weekend. Let me know how it goes.
yodasoda67 years ago
thanx gud job
TKEdwin5827 years ago
Ugh... I hate pull-ups, but good instructable! I need to bulk up and lose a little weight...