You want to build muscle and you want to do it quickly, so what do you do? You start eating a lot and don’t stop until you’ve packed on the pounds.
More weight means more muscle, right?
Except it doesn’t quite turn out how you wanted it to. Instead, of building lean muscle you gain a lot of fat.
Your muscle definition disappears, the abs you worked so hard to achieve are a distant memory and you now face the daunting prospect of having to lose all the fat just to see if you built any muscle at all.
Not quite what you were expecting is it.
The truth is the era of dirty bulking is over, it’s ineffective, detrimental and pointless. If you want to build lean, dense muscle and maintain a good physique all year round you need to avoid it and I’ll show you why.
In this article, we’ll look at what exactly dirty bulking is and 7 reasons you should never do it.
Bulking is defined as a period of time exclusive dedicated to the goal of building muscle. When bulking the aim is always to try and maximise muscle gain, whilst minimising fat gain.
To build muscle during a bulk period you need to be in a calorie surplus to give your body the necessary nutrients it needs to build muscle. Dirty bulking takes this and runs wild it.
With dirty bulking the idea is to eat as much as you can of whatever you want. Nothing is off-limits in the quest to gain weight and build muscle. The thought is that by eating this way you’ll quickly gain weight, which will predominantly be muscle.
However, this ignores one irrefutable truth of muscle building. Your body can only build muscle at a certain rate and any excess calories beyond what is used to do this are stored as fat, not muscle.
In short, dirty bulking is an ineffective approach to building muscle and I’ll show you why.
Maybe you’re still tempted by the idea of dirty bulking. If so, then let me share with you 7 reasons you should never, ever dirty bulk if you want to build muscle.
Here’s the thing about building muscle, you can’t do it very fast. This means that most people only need to eat 150 – 300 calories over their maintenance calories to build muscle. It’s enough to fuel muscle growth whilst minimising fat gain.
Dirty bulking ignores this completely and instead sees you eating above and beyond a 300-calorie surplus which means the amount of fat you gain skyrockets as everything that isn’t used by your body to build muscle is stored as fat.
Calorie portioning refers to how your body uses calories.
Note: in both instances, it will do both but it’s the rate and preference that makes a difference to your body composition
The effectiveness of your calorie partitioning comes down to 2 things; genetics and body fat percentage. Obviously, there is nothing you can do about your genetics but that’s not true of body fat percentage.
This means the leaner you are, the easier you’ll find it to build muscle and keep body fat off. Dirty bulking messes this up in 2 ways;
When done properly the process of changing your body involves moving between periods where you focus on building muscle and periods where you focus on losing fat. Ideally, you want to maximise your time spent building muscle as it’s a slower process.
This means you’d aim to bulk until you reach a certain body fat percentage (more on that here) and then switch to a shorter fat loss stage to lose any excess fat, before going back to building muscle.
However, when you dirty bulk you reverse this process. You gain a lot of fat in a short space of time only to spend much longer trying to lose it all only to start the process over again.
This makes it more difficult to both get and stay lean but also build muscle in any kind of reasonable timeframe.
Part of successfully building muscle is the ability to stay in pretty good shape during the process. This allows you to see the progress you’re making as you go, whilst also shortening the time it takes for you to get lean again when you’re finished.
By dirty bulking and gaining lots of weight you ruin any chance you have of staying in good shape throughout the process.
This means instead of stay relatively lean, being encouraged by the changes you see in your body and feeling confident and comfortable you lose all muscle definition, find it difficult to tell what’s going on and suffer from body confidence as your weight balloons.
Body confidence and self-esteem play a big role in how you function and perform, both in your everyday life and in relation to how likely you are to stick to your training plan and diet.
Gaining weight quickly can mess with your confidence and cause you to go off track and/or decide to try and get lean again before you’ve really had a chance to build any muscle.
This might seem trivial to some, but it is an unnecessary expense bought on by an impatient approach to building muscle.
If you during your fat loss and muscle building cycles, you can move between 2 well establish weights or body fat percentages you can easily get away with using the same clothes throughout.
However, if you start dirty bulking, you’ll rapidly gain huge amounts of weight and find that your clothes no longer fit your expanding waistline, chest and thighs and not in a good way.
You’ll find yourself buying new clothes only to no longer have a need for them when you finally lose all the excess weight again. This is both a waste of time and money.
Dirty bulking not only ruins any natural calorie partitioning effect but as we’ve seen it also prolongs the amount of time it takes you to build muscle. This means when you compare someone who bulks sensibly and someone who dirty bulks, the dirty bulker will gain less muscle in the same amount of time.
Related: 5 Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle
Two of the biggest reasons people give up on their goals are because they feel like they’re not seeing results in the short-term and they feel like it’s taking them too long to see results overall.
Dirty bulking feeds into both of these problems.
By quickly gaining a lot of weight you’re both extending the overall amount of time it’ll take you to see the results you want as the amount of time you need to get lean again after dirty bulking is massively extended due to the excessive weight gain.
You’re also making it near impossible to feel like you’re seeing any results week to week and month to month as any muscle you’re building is hidden behind the excess fat, making it difficult for you to tell what’s really going on.
There really is no upside to dirty bulking and I strongly suggest you avoid it at all costs.
It not only makes it more difficult to build muscle, but it also slows down the rate which you’ll gain muscle and makes getting lean again much more difficult.