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The Building Blocks Of Bulking Up: Diet And Excercise. Oh, And Your Pituitary Gland!

The Building Blocks Of Bulking Up: Diet And Excercise. Oh, And Your Pituitary Gland!

You know crash diets don't work. Almost 65 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lost within three years on crash diets, and they're terrible for gaining muscle mass.

If you want to lose fat and bulk up with muscle, you have to stick to the old standby, despite all the hard work: diet and exercise.  

What does that mean, exactly? What's the perfect exercise routine for amassing bulk? How about the perfect daily diet?

And what roles do your pituitary gland and hypothalamus function play in all this? (Spoiler alert: it's a big one.)

Read on for all the answers to your burning questions.  

How to Exercise to Bulk Up

What's the ideal way to exercise to add muscle definition? Should you lift heavier weights, or lift for longer?  How much cardio should you do?  

Don't Over-Cardio

Here's the thing about cardio workouts: they're great for  melting fat,  not building muscle.  That's great when you're building muscle underneath  because you're ditching the fat on top to show those shiny new abs off. The cardio isn't what's going to build those abs in the first place, though.  

Try to avoid consistent steady-state cardio workouts, too. Instead, opt for high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT.

This is a cardio workout which involves giving it your all for 30 seconds to one minute, then relaxing to a walk or jog for the next 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat throughout the duration of the workout.

It's way more effective in burning fat than steady-state cardio is.  Not only that, but high-intensity interval training will help you burn calories even after your workout is done. Steady-state cardio workouts don't offer that perk.

You should start by alternating HIIT workouts with steady-state cardio to allow your muscles time to recover. HIIT workouts can be a lot for your body to jump into right off the bat, so ease into them a few times a week at first.

Weight Train 3 Times Per Week

Now that you've got the skinny on what cardio's doing for you to build muscle, you need to figure out what weight training is doing. The answer? Everything.

Weight training is what  works the muscles in your body. These exercises push muscles to grow bigger and stronger to handle the strain of the weight they're under.  

That's why weight training needs to be at the core of your workout. You should be weight training at least three times per week. Don't forget to take rest days, too-your muscles need them to recover and grow.  

Here's another burning question people have about weight training: should you lift  heavier  weights, or use light weights for more reps?

The answer? Heavier weights.

Subjecting your muscles to that strain is what pushes them to grow. If you subject them to less weight for a longer period of time, they'll tone, not grow. If what you want is bulk, heavier weights are for you.

How to Eat to Bulk Up

Here's where we start to put the puzzle pieces together. Exercise isn't the only important element for gains-your diet plays a  huge role in how much muscle you'll amass in your workout. Read on to learn more.

Carbs-Consume, Cut, or Cycle?

With protein-heavy diets like the Paleo and Keto diets trending, carbs have gotten a bad rap as being the main contributor to body fat. In reality, fat, protein, and carbs all function  together  to either create great gains or bad days at the gym.  

Carbs are not the problem, and you don't need to cut them from your diet entirely. Of course, simple carbs like refined sugar, white bread, and breakfast cereal are never going to do you good. We're talking about good, complex carbs, like:

  • Sweet potatoes  

  • Oats

  • Broccoli

  • Brown rice  

The question, then, becomes: when should you eat carbs for max gains? Is carb-loading a good idea before a workout? How about carb cycling?

The answer: you should focus on eating carbs after your workout. Carbs will raise your blood sugar, which stimulates the production of insulin. Insulin increases your muscles' ability to intake protein, leading to accelerated muscle growth.  

The Deal on Protein

Like carbs, there's a lot of conflicting information out there about the amount of protein we actually need daily. Ask your average vegan and they'll tell you it's not as much as everyone thinks. Ask your average bodybuilder and they'll sing a different tune.  

Turns out that overloading on protein doesn't increase your gains, but being protein deficient will lessen them. So how much protein do we need per day?  

That depends on your daily caloric intake and your body weight. Generally, you should consume about .36 grams of protein per each pound of body weight.  

That means that someone who weighs 180 pound needs almost 65 grams of protein per day. That should be enough to maximize your gains at the gym. Eating too much protein can actually harm your body, so be sure not to overload too much on protein powder.

You should consume the bulk of your protein before you hit the gym. You should also try to distribute your protein consumption throughout the day better instead of sticking to the classic bowl of cereal for breakfast and piece of chicken for dinner.  

It's best if that protein comes from whole food sources. Your body utilizes these better than shakes and powders.  

The Best Sources of Protein

First off, there are great protein shakes and powders on the market that contain more than protein. It's a good idea to look for one with a multivitamin in it to contribute to your overall health. There are also a whole variety of  protein sources in the powders, including soy, pea, milk, hemp, and rice.  

Vegetarians and vegans prefer plant-based protein powders, while many bodybuilders prefer whey protein, which also boosts your immune system.

Besides protein powders and shakes, here are the best sources of whole foods based proteins out there:  

  • Eggs

  • Quinoa

  • Lentils

  • Beans

  • Yogurt

  • Chia seeds

  • Almonds  

  • Peanut Butter

  • Tuna

  • Pumpkin seeds

Whole foods are the best sources of protein, so try to include them in every meal!  

Your Pituitary  Gland and Your Muscles

You've read up on the best way to exercise and eat to bulk up. Now, do you want to know the real secret to adding muscle mass?  

Your pituitary gland function. Specifically, peptides, HGH, and what you can do to get them to work better for you.  

What are Peptides?

Peptides, supplement stacks, amino acids-you've heard the buzzwords around the gym, but what actually  are  peptides?

Essentially, they're amino acids derived from the human growth hormone (HGH) which your body recognizes and then uses to perform a particular action. In this case, the action is building muscle.  

The best part about them? Their amazing health benefits. Peptides can burn fat, build muscle, enhance your mood, and even accelerate cell regeneration.  

It's not only bodybuilders that take them, either. Even medical professionals have taken peptides to keep them healthy during their busy lifestyles.  

HGH and Muscle Growth

As someone who wants to bulk up, you probably like the name already: human growth hormone. Turns out, it lives up to its title.  

HGH is a hormone created in your pituitary gland that's responsible for (you guessed it) human growth. Since it's a master hormone, it directs your other pituitary gland hormones to grow the specific areas of your body they're responsible for.

It's essential in cell regeneration and in keeping your muscle tissue healthy. HGH actually increases your blood glucose by offsetting insulin, which makes your body get its energy from fat instead of glucose.  This is because HGH works to increase the release of IGF-1, which is one of the main proponents of tissue growth.

What does that mean for you? It means that upping your HGH has the power to:

  • Increase muscle mass  

  • Melt fat  

  • Metabolize food faster  

  • Synthesize peptides and amino acids  

If you're lifting like crazy and not seeing results, you may have an HGH  deficiency that you don't even know about. About 6,000 adults are diagnosed with HGH deficiency in the U.S. each year  

Here are some signs and symptoms you might be one of them:

  • Excessive  abdominal fat

  • Low energy

  • Thin, dry skin

  • Failure to grow muscle despite lifting weights  

  • Depressed or anxious moods

If this sounds like you, you might want to consider taking a  pituitary gland blood test and enrolling in  IGF-1 hormone replacement therapy. It's a safe, easy way to get back on the road to gains in a hurry!  

Bulk Up  

Navigating the world of figuring out the role of your  pituitary gland in bulking up isn't easy. There's tons of complex information to understand, and we don't blame you if it makes your head spin.

That's where we come in. We're always happy to help! Get in touch with any questions you have about the HGH hormone, IGF-1 replacement therapy, or anything else you have questions on!  

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

5 min read