Effective bulking phase training: guidelines (I)

Effective bulking phase training: guidelines (I)

There are just a few days of summer left and some of you may already be thinking about doing a bulking phase during the cold months. I am sure that you want to gain some muscle in the most effective way possible, but you may not know how to plan everything.

Well, do not worry! Here at HSNstore we are going to create a series of posts so that you will be able to organize a bulking phase effectively. You will get examples of weekly routines and diets of all kinds. However, this will be a general guideline that each one of you will have to adapt to your own needs and demands, but it will be a good base regardless.

We will publish the first routine for the month of October throughout the next week, which will be a 3 days full body (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

But, before starting, we want to make a recapitulation of the guidelines of a bulking phase training in a special post. It is a MUST read in order to understand the routines:

Routine guidelines

  • Warm-up: we will always warm-up before starting, either with 5 minutes of cardio or 2 sets of 15 reps of an exercise that involves the muscle group that we are going to work first.
  • Stretching: it is always important to stretch the muscles we have used during the workout at least 10 minutes after training and before the cardio. We will stretch the legs once again after the cardio.
  • Break between exercises: we will always take a break around 129 seconds between an exercise or between set of exercises. However, the break between sets will be marked in the corresponding column each week or week group.
  • Pace: the pace of each repetition will be marked in the routine, it is the time of each phase: seconds in the negative phase (eccentric) – seconds in the inflection point (isometric) – seconds in the positive phase (concentric).
  • Until muscle failure: some exercises have to be carried out until muscle failure and they will be marked with an f. This will mean that you will have to do the number of reps until failure +/- 2 reps.
  • Technical failure: in other exercises the technique may not be so strict, and we will mark them with a t next to the number of reps of that set. It also means that it has to be +/- 2.
  • Rack: we may have to make a rack descent in some exercises. This is done once we have completed the set, lower the weight (take dumbbells with less weight for example) and do another set until failure, as many times as the table indicates.
  • Lumbar: every time we work the abdomen (except if that day we train the lower back) we will need to compensate for that with 3-4 sets of lumbar hyperextensions.

Training guidelines

  • Beginners: they should not start with this routine, but since we are going to start as if we have not done anything during the whole summer, it could be useful for them as well. However, they should be supervised by someone who has experience, either a monitor or a colleague.
  • Duration: it lasts 24 weeks, we will provide examples of a simple bulking phase diet, another one a little more advanced and other for pros.
  • Training on an empty stomach: you can do so as long as you have some experience. A good diet for this would be an IF. We suggest taking a scoop of EVOBCAAs on an empty stomach 20′ before training.

Sets and supersets guidelines

  • Descending pyramid sets: when the sets have a number of reps that drops (like 12-12-10-8) we will have to increase the weight in each set. You should use a weight that will allow you to do the whole set and feel that you could do between 1 and 3 reps more.
  • Ascending pyramid sets: when the sets have a number of reps that increases (like 8-10-10-12) we will have to lower the weight in each set. You should use a weight that will allow you to do the whole set and feel that you could do between 1 and 3 reps more.
  • Supersets: you are going to perform several exercises (bi-sets, tri-sets, supersets and giant sets) one after the other without stopping. I will indicate this with a + in the exercise column.
  • Bi-sets, tri-sets and giant sets: these are two, three or more exercises non-stop, one after the other without a break. This means that you will have to prepare all the exercises in advance. First, you will do one without stopping, then another one and so on. Once you are done, you will make a break that is specified in the table. You will have to execute the number of sets that are written on the table. If you have never done supersets I do not think you are ready for this training.
  • Read a column with supersets: if you find one column with EXERCISE 1 + EXERCISE 2 + EXERCISE 3 and in the reps column with XX-XX-X-X, YY-YY-Y-Y, failure, this means that you will have to do exercise 1 with XX-XX-X-X reps, exercise 2 with YY-YY-Y-Y and exercise 3 until failure. If there is just one of these written in the reps column all the exercises are done with the same reps.

Cardio guidelines

  • Cardiovascular exercise: always do this at a moderate pace, that is, a 65% of your maximum heartbeat, around 40 minutes. We may add some HIIT in certain weeks, but this is not going to be the usual thing.
  • Type of cardio: the best cardio burns fat while running, but you can do the cardio that you like most as long as you control your heartbeat. I do not advise spinning, body pump, aerobics… since you cannot control the heart rate.
  • Cardio days: you have to do mainly from 2 to 3 days of cardiovascular exercise, unless the routine marks the cardio days and the type of cardio. We may have to do some HIIT as I said before.
  • When to do cardio: the best thing would be to do cardio after weights, except for the leg-day and the day afterwards. If you take a protein shake you can do so after the cardio (it will not make a great difference if you take it before).


  • Weigh yourself: The most basic way of following your progress is to weigh yourself once a week at the same time, preferably after waking up on an empty stomach. However, we will not know if we have lost fat, muscle or liquid.
  • Measure the fat and muscle: it would be ideal to measure the fat each month to see how we evolve. This is done with a calliper (measuring the skin folds and using a formula) or bioimpedance scale (which are not so reliable). If we know the amount of fat we will also know the muscle. The calliper is used by specialists, such as sport doctors.


  • Questions about exercises: if you do not know how to do the exercises do not be afraid to ask in the comments below. Take some time to read the previous comments to see if your question has been already answered.
First Month
Bulking Phase Training Review

Routine Guidelines - 100%

Training Guideliness - 100%

Sets - 100%

Progression - 100%


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About David Diaz Gil
David Diaz Gil
David Díaz Gil contributes with excellent articles in which he deposits the essence of his experience as well as scientific rigor.
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