Bulking vs. Cutting: Pros, Cons, and Comparison

How to start a bulk

When starting a bulk, the first step is to determine your maintenance calories — the number of calories you need to maintain your weight. Various online calculators can help you estimate this number.

You then tack on a 10–20% calorie surplus. For example, a 175-pound (79-kg) man of average size would add around 250–500 calories to their daily intake (1).

Meanwhile, a 135-pound (61-kg) woman of average size might add about 200–400 calories (1).

Bulking vs. Cutting: Pros, Cons, and Comparison

From there, aim for a daily protein intake of 0.7–1 gram per pound of body weight (1.6–2.2 grams per kg) to support muscle gain. The rest of your daily calories are made up of carbs and fats, though this depends on your preference (1).

You may find it helpful to track your daily intake using one of several smartphone apps.

Weigh yourself regularly to track your progress, shooting for a weight gain of 0.25–0.5% of your body weight per week (1).

If the number on the scale isn’t moving over the course of a couple of weeks, gradually increase your weekly calorie intake by 100–200 calories.

People usually pair a bulk with high intensity resistance training to maximize muscle gains.

A bulking phase can last anywhere from 1 month to over 6 months or longer, depending on your goals.


To start bulking, add a given number of calories to your typical daily calorie intake. You can determine how much to add with a quick calculation. The goal is to promote a weight gain of 0.25–0.5% of your body weight per week.