Dirty Bulk vs. Clean Bulk (Explained)

Bodybuilder or not, you’ve probably heard the following many times: “I’m bulking”.

Said by someone who was 250 pounds, carrying a liter of water and had a voice deeper than the tuba you played in middle school.

Or at least that’s how the stereotypes go.

This is bodybuilding vernacular for, “I’m putting on size/muscle” but more often than not, I see it being used as an excuse to go on a see-food diet (see food and eat it). 

Bodybuilding in itself is already a dangerous sport. From weight lifting to consuming the necessary foods, your heart and digestive organs are put through immense stress. Not to mention your muscles…those poor things. 

As a bodybuilder, you’re constantly experiencing some kind of pain (either in training or recovery). Therefore, shouldn’t it be your responsibility to relieve some of that stress wherever possible? Shouldn’t it?

Unfortunately with our definitions of “bulking”, that’s not the case.

 

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WHAT IS BULKING?

Bulking is simply eating at caloric surplus with the intention of gaining muscle. 

The surplus of calories will naturally increase your weight and with resistance training, you can direct those calories towards mostly muscle gains.

The two most common methods are clean bulking and dirty bulking.

Clean Bulk – Caloric surplus with some dietary restrictions (no sugars, no junk food etc).

Dirty Bulk – Caloric surplus without any dietary restrictions (eat anything you want).

BOTH require macro tracking, adequate sleep and rigorous training to ensure optimal muscle gain.

 

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DIRTY BULK (PROS/CONS)

If you care nothing for your health (mental or physical), this is the one for you.

The rule stands that if you eat healthy food, you’ll live a healthy happy life. Do the opposite and you’ll have the honor of selecting from the following: low energy levels, diabetes risk, feeling terrible, skin problems, etc.

But donuts and pizza are so good!!

I’m with you on that, but I’d rather feel fine for the entire day than great for 30 minutes and terrible for the rest of the day.

And as far as gaining muscle faster…yeah, that’s a myth. 

Remember, your body’s the perfect machine. It’ll just extract whatever it needs for muscle growth and convert the rest into fat.

In fact, studies show that a higher fat percentage (caused by a dirty bulk) will actually hinder your muscle gains. Cathe (Cathe.com) explains, “higher levels of body fat are linked with insulin resistance…”

Insulin is the hormone that ferries amino acids (from the protein you consumed) to the muscle cells, so they can use them to build muscle tissue. The higher your insulin resistance, the more difficult it’ll be for the amino acids to reach your muscle cells.

In other words, the fatter you are, the more difficult it is to build muscle. 

In terms of PROS, dirty bulking does have a mental advantage. Turns out eating a dozen donuts is easy so therefore it’s easier to stick to a dirty bulk than a clean one.

Unfortunately, a bigger problem arises when you’ve finished the donuts and you don’t have enough space for the rest of your macros. 

Then the work you put in the gym that day also goes out the window along with your health. Double whammy!

 

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CLEAN BULK (PROS/CONS)

Unlike dirty bulking, clean bulking doesn’t throw your health out of the window. 

As always, health is number one here are Boy Meets Bod so I will always recommend and encourage a clean bulk.

You’ll avoid any health concerns I mentioned above and on top of that, you’ll actually see the changes you make to your body (they won’t be hidden by fat).

And as far as CONS, unlike dirty bulking, you might struggle to eat mostly clean. After all, it is easier to eat a large pizza than rice, chicken and veggies.

But at least you’ll be absolutely certain you hit your macros every night.

 

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WHICH ONE SHOULD I DO?

For intermediate/advanced lifters, always go with clean bulks. Even if your frame is decent and you just started lifting, clean bulking is the better option.

Remember, a 5-pound muscle difference isn’t worth your health. 

For beginners, you’ll always be told to go with a dirty bulk. This is because your main concern isn’t putting on muscle but building your frame/foundation.

In this case, a dirty bulk would be most effective but once again, the choice is yours. The beginning is always the hardest but the choice remains the same. 

Will you risk your health for size? Is a dozen donuts better than a nutritious meal?

If you were my client, I’d advise you to follow a 70/30 clean bulk (healthy/unhealthy) as opposed to the typical 90/10, which’ll be a little less restrictive.

This’ll encourage you to eat more and keep you fairly aware of what it is you do eat.

 

CONCLUSION

Clean or dirty, the best option is one you can follow. 

While dirty bulking is easier, your health is most important. Especially at a younger age, your body is still developing and with the wrong tools it could do permanent damage.

Your body is working round the clock to perform for you, so return the favor and relieve some of the stress it goes through. 

 

 

 

 


Disclaimer

None of the information written above or supplied by links is suitable for follow without a doctor’s consent. 


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